The Unlovely Player [poem by John Shaw Neilson]

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

The Unlovely Player

Over his petty mouth, his sorry chin,
There runs a carnival — a summertime
of follies men call sin.

What thing is on his soul he will not say.
Come on! come on! ye keen of wit and hear
the unlovely fellow play.

Playing and loving much, he seems so hot
He could show sweetness to a sunbeam, and
he would offend it not.

Have ye within your soul so faint a joy?
He will put diamonds on it, though he be
a dull, grey-headed boy.

His heart hath done a warfare with old Time,
And he moons deep as ballad-maker who
tracks up a vagrant rhyme.

He hath been long with Summer, and the gold
Of memory props him up to be a man
and quite defy the cold.

Sweethearts and fools who have the best of day
Come on! come on! ye quick of wit, and hear
the unlovely fellow play.



Source:
John Shaw Neilson (editor: R. H. Croll), Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson, Melbourne: Lothian Publishing Company, 1934 [May 1949 reprint], page 95

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