The Sacrifice [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 Sacrifice

White for the grave, strange-eyed and sable-dressed,
Is this my love so quietly doth lie?
The sunlight of her sweetness, her dear grace,
All that she gave . . . falls to the earth to die.
Love’s utter sacrifice — life’s old long pain —
Lost! lost! and shall this ever live again,
O, God of pity!

White for the grave — all grace, all glory gone!
My love was young, my love was sweet and warm,
And so we dreamed as quiet voyagers . .
Most hateful wreck! too cruel strife and storm!
The grave will cry its hunger every hour;
Yet thus to spoil the glory of a flower,
O, God of pity!

Yet in her rest she shall not see gray hairs
Or children trampling on the holy things;
Though every day be dark, still in the dark
Love looks for light, the old hope climbs and clings
Up through all tears . . . In the black gloom and pain
My torn heart cries, “Give me my love again,
O, God of pity!”



Source:
Shaw Neilson, Heart of Spring, The Bookfellow, Sydney, 1919, page 57

Also published in:
John Shaw Neilson (editor: R. H. Croll), Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson, Lothian Publishing Company, Melbourne, 1934 [May 1949 reprint], page 51

Editor’s notes:
sable = a colour that is black, dark, or gloomy (“sables” was an archaic term for garments worn for mourning; “sable” in heraldry refers to black); arising from the colour of dark sable fur, as taken from a sable (a furry mammal, Martes zibellina, which is primarily found in Russia and northern East Asia, and noted for its fur which has traditionally been used for clothing)

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