It is the Last [poem by John Shaw Neilson]

[Editor: This poem by John Shaw Neilson was published in Heart of Spring (1919) and Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson (1934).]

It is the Last

White is the world, the weather warm and sweet,
But time is dear
To thee and me, my friend! for we may meet
Just once a year.

Soon shalt thou rest, a warrior home from war:
It seems not strange:
Gently Time maketh thee more ready for
The old sharp change.

Thou hast done well indeed to come thus far,
Cheery and bright,
Bold as a tranquil summer evening star
Smiling good-night.

Thou hast beheld the sunlight, sung the song,
Fought with the fears,
In the grim days thou hast been all along
The track of tears.

Thou art not teased of love, afraid of fate
Or storms within;
Too weary art thou now for hope or hate,
Small strife or sin.

Still is thy talk of olden time and friend
That thou hast known;
But all thy stories run to one sad end —
“I am alone.”

How goes the time, O friend of mine? I think
Thy voice doth fail.
Here is my best tobacco; let us drink
This good brown ale.

Smoking, I watch thy fading features through
The smoky way . . .
O, ancient friend! shall I clasp hands with you
Next Christmas Day?

Shaw Neilson, Heart of Spring, The Bookfellow, Sydney, 1919, pages 79-80

Also published in:
John Shaw Neilson (editor: R. H. Croll), Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson, Lothian Publishing Company, Melbourne, 1934 [May 1949 reprint], pages 71-72

Editor’s notes:
In Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson (1934), the word “fading” is replaced by “fainting”.

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