To a Lodging-House Canary [poem by John Shaw Neilson]

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

To a Lodging-House Canary

In you are all the good jigs of the Irishman out for a day,
Little one! close to the Maker you whistle away.

Prisoned, and born in a prison, and yet in your song
Out to the top o’ the twilight you take us along.

The goodman has need of sweet noises; he calls to his dame:
And she, being barren, she knows but the edge of the flame.

You dance into heaven, O rude one! — and higher and higher
You mock at the craven who eats not his fill o’ the fire.

Free men we are not: we cannot come out of the fear.
Call the dead! Let the dead march in your merriment here!

Soldier you are, and good neighbour: you come not to cry
Of any dull ache in the body or doubt in the sky.

In you are all the good jigs of old Irishmen out for a day,
Little one! close to the Maker you whistle away.



Source:
John Shaw Neilson (editor: R. H. Croll), Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson, Melbourne: Lothian Publishing Company, 1934 [May 1949 reprint], page 147

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