[Editor: This booklet, consisting of the poem “Old Granny Sullivan” by John Shaw Neilson (given here as “Shaw Neilson”), was published in 1915.]
Old Granny Sullivan
By Shaw Neilson
A pleasant shady place it is, a pleasant place and cool —
The township folk go up and down, the children pass to school:
Along the river lies my world, a dear sweet world to me:
I sit and learn — I cannot go: there is so much to see.
But Granny she has seen the world, and often by her side
I sit and listen while she speaks of youthful days of pride.
Old Granny’s hands are clasped; she wears her favourite faded shawl —
I ask her this, I ask her that: she says, “I mind them all.”
The boys and girls that Granny knew, far o’er the seas are they;
But there’s no love like the old love, and the old world far away.
Her talk is all of wakes and fairs — or how, when night would fall,
“’Twas many a quare thing crept and came!” And Granny “minds them all.”
A strange new land was this to her, and perilous, rude and wild —
Where loneliness and tears and care came to each mother’s child:
The wilderness closed all around, grim as a prison wall;
But white folk then were stout of heart — ah! Granny “minds it all.”
The day she first met Sullivan — she tells it all to me —
How she was hardly twenty-one, and he was twenty-three.
The courting days! the kissing days! — but bitter things befall
The bravest hearts that plan and dream. Old Granny “minds it all.”
Her wedding dress I know by heart: yes! every flounce and frill;
And the little home they lived in first, with the garden on the hill.
’Twas there her baby boy was born, and neighbours came to call;
But none had seen a boy like Jim — and Granny “minds it all.”
They had their fight in those old days; but Sullivan was strong,
A smart, quick man at anything; ’twas hard to put him wrong …
One day they brought him from the mine … (The big salt tears will fall) …
“’Twas long ago, God rest his soul!” Poor Granny “minds it all.”
The first dark days of widowhood, the weary days and slow,
The grim, disheartening, uphill fight, then Granny lived to know.
“The childer,” ah! they grew and grew — sound, rosy-cheeked, and tall:
“The childer” still they are to her. Old Granny “minds them all.”
How well she loved her little brood! … Oh, Granny’s heart was brave!
She gave to them her love and faith — all that the good God gave.
They change not with the changing years: as babies just the same
She feels for them — though some, alas! have brought her grief and shame.
The big world called them here and there, and many a mile away:
They cannot come — she cannot go — the darkness haunts the day;
And I, no flesh and blood of hers, sit here while shadows fall —
I sit and listen — Granny talks; for Granny “minds them all.”
Just fancy Granny Sullivan at seventeen or so,
In all the floating finery that women love to show!
— And oh, it is a merry dance! the fiddler’s flushed with wine,
And Granny’s partner brave and gay, and Granny’s eyes ashine …
’Tis time to pause, for pause we must — we only have our day —
Yes: by and by our dance will die, our fiddlers cease to play:
And we shall seek some quiet place where great grey shadows fall,
And sit and wait as Granny waits — we’ll sit and “mind them all.”
Wholly printed in Australia by Wm. Brooks & Co., Ltd., 17 Castlereagh St., and published by The Bookfellow in Sydney, Australia.
Also issued in this series — no. 1 — The Tale of Tiddley Winks, by Mary Gilmore
Shaw Neilson, Old Granny Sullivan, Sydney: The Bookfellow, 
The booklet does not include a year of publication; however, as two newspapers reported receiving the booklet in December 1915, it is therefore believed that it was published in late 1915 (the timing of its release was possibly aimed at making the booklet available for sale in time for Christmas).
See: 1) “Christmas cameos”, The Australian Worker (Sydney, NSW), 23 December 1915, p. 17
2) “[We have received copies of two Christmas books]” (untitled item), The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, NSW), 24 December 1915, p. 10
The front cover of this booklet states that this publication is number 2 in the series “Australian Poetry Books”. Number 1 in the series was The Tale of Tiddley Winks, by Mary Gilmore (1915).
The booklet includes a header graphic, depicting two magpies feeding three chicks in their nest. A small photo of John Shaw Neilson was included near the end of the booklet.
There are various differences of punctuation between published versions of this poem; however, there are three significant differences to be noted, the most significant of which is the exclusion of an entire stanza:
1) In Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson, the 2nd line of the 2nd stanza is given as:
“I sit and listen while she speaks of all that women pride.”
Whereas in all of the other published versions of the poem (listed here), that line is given as:
“I sit and listen while she speaks of youthful days of pride.”
2) In Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson, and in The Wagga Wagga Advertiser (16 February 1907), the 4th line of the 10th stanza (which begins “The big world called them here and there”) ends with:
“minds it all”
Whereas in all of the other published versions of the poem (listed here), that text is given as:
“minds them all”
3) The original 11th (second-last) stanza (which begins “Just fancy Granny Sullivan at seventeen or so”) was not included in the book collections of John Shaw Neilson’s poetry.
Also published (with the original second-last stanza) in:
The Bookfellow (Sydney, NSW), 17 January 1907, p. 8
Goulburn Evening Penny Post (Goulburn, NSW), 9 February 1907, p. 2 [reprinted from “The Bookfellow”]
The Wagga Wagga Advertiser (Wagga Wagga, NSW), 16 February 1907, p. 4 [reprinted from “The Bookfellow”]
Wollondilly Press (Bowral, NSW), 28 March 1908, p. 8 [reprinted from “The Bookfellow”]
J. J. Stable (editor), The Second Bond of Poetry: A Book of Verse for Australian Schools, Melbourne: Humphrey Milford; Oxford University Press, 1938, pp. 6-9
Also published (without the original second-last stanza) in:
Shaw Neilson, Heart of Spring, Sydney: The Bookfellow, 1919, pp. 22-25
John Shaw Neilson, Ballad and Lyrical Poems, Sydney: The Bookfellow in Australia, 1923, pp. 31-33
John Shaw Neilson (edited by R. H. Croll), Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson, Melbourne: Lothian Publishing Company, 1934, pp. 22-25 [uses the same page numbers as Heart of Spring]
The Advocate (Burnie, Tas.), 9 May 1949, p. 9 [only includes the first five stanzas]
childer = (British and Irish dialect) children
gay = happy, joyous, carefree; well-decorated, bright, attractive (in modern times it may especially refer to a homosexual, especially a male homosexual; can also refer to something which is no good, pathetic, useless)
mind = (British dialect) remember
o’er = (archaic) over (pronounced the same as “oar”, “or”, and “ore”)
quare = (British and Irish dialect) queer, remarkable, strange (can also mean good or great; in Irish usage it can also mean “very” or “extremely”)
rude = primitive, raw, or rough, or in an unfinished state or natural condition (distinct from the modern usage of “rude” as someone being discourteous or ill-mannered)
’tis = (archaic) a contraction of “it is”
’twas = (archaic) a contraction of “it was”
Wm. = an abbreviation of the name “William”
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