Love’s Coming [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).]

Love’s Coming

Quietly as rosebuds
Talk to the thin air,
Love came so lightly
I knew not he was there.

Quietly as lovers
Creep at the middle moon,
Softly as players tremble
In the tears of a tune;

Quietly as lilies
Their faint vows declare
Came the shy pilgrim:
I knew not he was there.

Quietly as tears fall
On a wild sin,
Softly as griefs call
In a violin;

Without hail or tempest,
Blue sword or flame,
Love came so lightly
I knew not that he came.



Source:
Shaw Neilson, Heart of Spring, The Bookfellow, Sydney, 1919, page 40

Also published in:
The Daily Herald (Adelaide, SA), 13 May 1911, page 2
John Shaw Neilson (editor: R. H. Croll), Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson, Lothian Publishing Company, Melbourne, 1934 [May 1949 reprint], page 36

[Editor: The last lines of the third and fifth stanzas appear to have been accidentally swapped over in the publishing of the book, so the placement of those two lines has therefore been corrected: a) the last line of the third stanza has been changed from “I knew not that he came” to “I knew not he was there”, and b) the last line of the fifth stanza has been changed from “I knew not he was there” to “I knew not that he came”, in line with 1) the rhyming flow of the poem, 2) the poem as printed in The Daily Herald (13 May 1911), and 3) the poem as printed in Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson (1934).]

Comments

  1. Ralph Ne'erdowell says:

    I’ve always thought of Shaw Neilsen as Australia’s answer to Gerard Manley Hopkins. Evocatively precise, controlling cadence, pace and controlling the tongue and heart of the reader before the mind is engaged. It is always this two layered response where you react and understand emotively first, before reflecting and intellectualising the poem. The meaning informs the method rather than the other way around. His poems consequently float and have a spiritual ethereal quality. It is hard to think to think of Neilsen as a worldly body- he seems to operate somewhere above or beyond that…
    Love’s Coming is a perception from above, an overview rather than reflection- timeless in a sense. I always liked ‘The orange Tree’ for the same reason.

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