The Lover Sings [poem by John Shaw Neilson]

[Editor: This poem by John Shaw Neilson was published in Heart of Spring (1919) and Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson (1934).]

The Lover Sings

It is not dark; it is not day;
The earth lies quivering to the dew:
Shall we not love her? All men may.
Lo, here a lover passes too!
Down a green shadowy path he goes
And in his hand he bears a rose,
Still singing that his heart is true.

Creeps the low darkness where the eve
Groweth more gloomy; and anon
The lover sings. And doth he grieve
For red-lip kisses three days gone?
Hark how he sings! high heavenly clear,
Chief messenger of light to cheer
The brown earth and that bides thereon.

Listen, and we shall leave the earth,
Brooding no more o’er baser things.
My lily love hath rosy worth!
Like to a happy flower she clings!

Glories have come up in his eyes —
Wrapt in a fire he leaps, he flies . . .
Not for himself the lover sings.

In every loveless lane or way
Hearts have been heavy, prison-cold:
For all who only moan and pray
Still doth he sing — he sang of old,
Joy-bearer, bard of better things:
Not for himself the lover sings:
Singer of Summer uncontrolled.

Mourners move onward from the gloom —
Not for himself the lover sings:
Give us, they cry, the buds, the bloom,
The long light on our journeyings.
Star follows star in the dull grey,
Deep is the dark, it drinks the day:
For very love of God he sings.

Shaw Neilson, Heart of Spring, The Bookfellow, Sydney, 1919, page 41-42

Also published in:
John Shaw Neilson (editor: R. H. Croll), Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson, Lothian Publishing Company, Melbourne, 1934 [May 1949 reprint], pages 37-38

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