[Editor: This poem by John Shaw Neilson was published in Heart of Spring (1919) and Ballad and Lyrical Poems (1923).]
“The Day is Thine”
’Twas in that far-off land of mine,
Dear land I never more may see:
The grey church like a ghost stood up:
The old sun-dial spoke to me —
Spoke deep into this soul of mine:
Only the day, the day is thine.
The bright-eyed baby buds and flowers
Showered sweetness on the dancing Spring;
Down in the dark green shade I heard
The singers of the deep woods sing;
The old sun-dial said its say,
This, only this, no other day.
The players of the playtime pass —
How swift the troublous seasons turn
All that we strive for, most we love,
And loving, never yet may learn.
The old sun-dial still speaks on:
This day — already, ’tis far gone.
The kisses and the fallen tears,
The hearts that could not hold their pain,
Seem holier in the mist of years:
The old sun-dial speaks again,
Stern teacher to this soul of mine:
This day, quick-perishing, is thine.
Shaw Neilson, Heart of Spring, Sydney: The Bookfellow, 1919, page 33
Also published in:
John Shaw Neilson, Ballad and Lyrical Poems, Sydney: The Bookfellow in Australia, 1923, page 73
sun-dial = a device built (for use outside when the sun is shining) to show the time of day, using a raised piece which casts a shadow onto a flat surface, which is engraved or marked with numbered places which show the various hours of the day when the sun’s shadow falls upon them (also spelt: sundial)
thine = (archaic) yours; your (“thine”, meaning “your”, is usually placed before a word which begins with a vowel, e.g. “To thine own self be true”)
’tis = (archaic) a contraction of “it is”
’twas = (archaic) a contraction of “it was”
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