’Twas in the Early Summer Time [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).]

’Twas in the Early Summer Time

Perchance it was of Chaucer’s day —
Old Chaucer! — cheerier soul than he
Ne’er drank the good red wine of life,
And all his rhymes rang joyfully.
Or did it spring from some sad heart —
A dreamer wandering in the blue,
Who in the slumbering sunlight sang
Of sweetness that he never knew?
Poor old faint half-forgotten rhyme!
’Twas in the early Summer time.

I dreamed a dream of gardens clothed
In many a bloom of pink and snow;
Of meadows where a river ran,
And woodland noises sweet and low:
The bold hills and the great calm sky,
The song-birds warbling far away,
The green wheat in the ear, and all
The glory of a golden day:
— Poor old quaint, half-forgotten rhyme!
’Twas in the early Summer time.

I dreamed of kisses and of tears,
A sweet warm world, and wondrous fair;
Of lovers lingering in the gloom,
And holy men at evening prayer;
Of singers and their brave old songs,
Of flowers and many a field of hay,
Of strong men riding out to war,
And children dancing at their play:
— Poor old quaint, half-forgotten rhyme!
’Twas in the early Summer time.

Five hundred years ago, and more!
Five hundred years — and I to-day
Am sauntering in the bloom, and lo,
A sigh! a kiss! they haste away . .
My heart beats happier for your loves!
My heart is merrier for your joy!
God’s blessings come in sun and bloom
To every love-sick girl and boy!
— Poor old quaint, half-forgotten rhyme!
’Twas in the early Summer time.



Source:
Shaw Neilson, Heart of Spring, The Bookfellow, Sydney, 1919, pages 45-46

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 40-41

[Editor: Added an apostrophe to “Twas” in the title, in line with the title as given in the book’s list of contents and in line with the usage of “’twas” in the poem.]

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