Julie Callaway [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).]

Julie Callaway

This world, I always call it mine,
Because no other world I know:
Love it or hate it, how you will,
With kindness like the overflow
Of some bare river rambling on,
So does it only seek to bless:
— Oh, dry your tears! for, all things gone,
The old world kindly wanders on.

This world of mine, this world of yours:
November, and a glorious day,
So drowsily the bees did hum
And pretty Julie Callaway
Stood laughing, lingering at the door . .
Of all this sweetness, grace and gleam
The old-time singers sang of yore;
So let us all sing evermore.

The air grew sweeter; days were long;
Yet everywhere beneath the sky
Death, who would never be gainsaid,
Sat waiting with a watchful eye . .
On every tree there comes a flower,
To every lad and lass a time —
A dancing day, a month, an hour —
The gold world trembles in a shower.

Oh, pretty Julie Callaway,
God surely loved her for her dream —
A little home not far away . .
How wonderful the world may seem
When one we love (and Love is strong)
Walks with us in the flowery way:
All else that in the world is wrong,
How soon forgotten. Love is long.

It is not far, you see her grave,
’Tis in the shadow of the trees;
I sometimes fancy Julie hears
The mid-day murmuring of the bees
And knows our footsteps every way
And this sweet world to her denied.
— ’Twas in the bloom of bride’s array
She died, upon her wedding day.

And is God merciful or kind?
He knoweth all, full well He knew
Millions of hard, sin-maddened men
And wasting, worn-out women too,
Praying for Death, as devils pray;
And she pure-hearted, beautiful . .
In orange bloom, in bride’s array,
Death found her on her wedding day.

Shaw Neilson, Heart of Spring, The Bookfellow, Sydney, 1919, pages 19-20

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 19-20

Editor’s notes:
gainsay = contradict, oppose, or speak against (also to declare untrue, deny, or disagree)

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