[Editor: This poem by John Shaw Neilson was published in Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson (1934).]
If ever I go to Stony Town, I’ll go as to a fair,
With bells and men and a dance-girl with the heat-wave in her hair:
I’ll ask the birds that live on the road; for I dream (though it may not be)
That the eldest song was a forest thought and the singer was a tree.
Oh, Stony Town is a hard town! It buys and sells and buys:
It will not pity the plights of youth or any love in the eyes:
No curve they follow in Stony Town; but the straight line and the square:
— And the girl shall dance them a royal dance, like a blue wren at his prayer.
Oh, Stony Town is a hard town! It sells and buys and sells:
— Merry men three I will take with me, and seven and twenty bells:
The bells will laugh and the men will laugh, and the girl shall shine so fair
With the scent of love and cinnamon dust shaken out of her hair.
Her skirts shall be of the gossamer, full thirty inches high;
And her lips shall move as the flowers move to see the winds go by:
The men will laugh, and the bells will laugh, to find the world so young;
And the girl shall go as a velvet bird, with a quick step on her tongue.
She shall cry aloud that a million moons for a lover is not long,
And her mouth shall be as the green honey in the honey-eater’s song:
— If ever I go to Stony Town, I’ll go as to a fair,
And the girl shall shake with the cinnamon and the heat-wave in her hair.
John Shaw Neilson (editor: R. H. Croll), Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson, Melbourne: Lothian Publishing Company, 1934 [May 1949 reprint], pages 117-118
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