[Editor: This poem by John Shaw Neilson was published in Heart of Spring (1919), Ballad and Lyrical Poems (1923), and Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson (1934).]
Over the road she lives not far,
My neighbour pale and thin:
“Sweet is the world!” she cries, “how sweet
To keep on living in!”
Her heart it is a right red heart
That cannot stoop to pine;
Her hand-clasp is a happiness,
Her welcome is a wine.
Love, she will have it, is a lilt
From some lost comedy
Played long ago when the white stars
Lightened the greenery.
Ever she talks of earth and air
and sunlit junketing:
Gaily she says, “I know I shall
Be dancing in the Spring!”
Almost I fear her low, low voice
As one may fear the moon,
As one may fear too faint a sound
In an old uncanny tune.
… Over the road ’twill not be long —
Clearly I see it all ..
Ere ever the red days come up
Or the pale grasses fall.
There will be black upon us, and
Within our eyes a dew:
We shall be walking neighbourly
As neighbours — two and two.
Shaw Neilson, Heart of Spring, Sydney: The Bookfellow, 1919, pages 11-12
Also published in:
John Shaw Neilson, Ballad and Lyrical Poems, Sydney: Bookfellow in Australia, 1923, page 34
John Shaw Neilson (edited by R. H. Croll), Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson, Melbourne: Lothian Publishing Company, 1934, pages 11-12
ere = (archaic) before (from the Middle English “er”, itself from the Old English “aer”, meaning early or soon)
junketing = (archaic) (noun) a junket: (as a noun) a celebratory banquet or feast; a festive event or occasion
’twill = (archaic) a contraction of “it will”
uncanny = strange, mysterious, hard to explain, eerie, weird (especially in way that would make one uneasy, unsettled, or fearful; often used in a supernatural sense); beyond normal expectations, inexplicable
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