Marian’s Child [poem by J.S. Neilson]

[Editor: This poem by J.S. Neilson was published in The Bulletin Reciter, 1901.]

Marian’s Child.

First we thought of the river,
But the body might be found ;
And it did not seem so cruel
To bury it in the ground.
So small it seemed, so helpless —
I hardened my heart like stone —
She kissed it over and over,
And then I heard her groan.

I took it out of her bosom :
It cried, and cried, and cried ;
I carried it down the garden —
The moon was bright outside.
I dug a hole with a shovel
And laid the baby down ;
1 shovelled the sand upon it —
The sand was soft and brown.

But, ah ! its cry was bitter —
I scarce could cover it in,
And when at last ’t was hidden
I sank beneath my sin.
Down at the foot of the garden,
Where the moon-made shadows fell,
I sold myself to the Devil
And bought a home in hell.

Down at the foot of the garden,
Where the weeds grew rank and wild,
Under the shivering willows
I murdered Marian’s child ;
My heart was wildly beating,
My eyes and cheeks were wet,
For I heard the baby crying —
O God ! I hear it yet.
I hear it crying, crying,
Just as I heard it cry
In Marian’s arms in the morning
When I knew that it must die.

* * * * *

Neither of us was woman —
I was the younger one ;
And we strove to tell each other
What a wise thing we had done.
Why should it live to plague us ?
Why should it ever begin
Travelling roads of trouble,
Soiling its soul with sin ?

Marian ! ah, she remembers !
In spite of all her tears
Sweet children call her mother
These many, many years.
Yet when I saw my darling,
Her blue eyes seemed to swell :
“Annie !” she said, “do you hear it ?
Listen ! I hear it well !

In the night I hear it calling
With a muffled, plaintive wail,
And my heart stands still to count its sobs,
And ever I try and fail ;
For I think the depth of my baby’s grief
Will never fathomed be
Till the fires are lit in the bottomless pit
To blast eternity.”

Once in a southern city
Joy came into my life —
He loved me, kissed me, thought me
Worthy to be his wife . . .
No, I will never marry.
God ! I had rather die —
If ever I had a baby
’T would curse me with its cry !
For down at the foot of the garden,
Where the moon-made shadows fell,
I sold myself to the Devil
And bought a home in hell.

J. S. Neilson.



Source:
A.G. Stephens (editor). The Bulletin Reciter: A Collection of Verses for Recitation from “The Bulletin” [1880-1901], The Bulletin Newspaper Company, Sydney, 1902 [first published 1901], pages 56-59

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