The Birds Go By [poem by John Shaw Neilson]

[Editor: This poem by John Shaw Neilson was published in Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson (1934).]

The Birds Go By

Westward at even . . . yet never, never to die!
Surely they live as ever the laugh and the sigh:
After the fight and the fall, the defeat of the pilgrim,
The birds go by.

No, not for dying like all the sweet flowers are they,
— Flowers giving hope to mankind on their little stay,
Failing only as love fails at the end of the day.

Green earth and water have gladdening out of their cry,
Lifting the eyes of the heart to the height of the sky:
I dream that they bear to the dead the thoughts of the living . . .
The birds go by.

John Shaw Neilson (editor: R. H. Croll), Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson, Melbourne: Lothian Publishing Company, 1934 [May 1949 reprint], page 111

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