Recently there has been a marked awakening of interest in the work of Shaw Neilson, who has been hailed by competent literary critics as one of our most important poets. The work here published has all been done since the appearance of his Collected Poems four years ago — with the exception of three early pieces from “The Clarion” (Melbourne) and “The Bookfellow” (Sydney). These are “The Sundowner,” “The Time of Tumult,” and “Uncle to a Pirate.”
The delicate magic of Shaw Neilson remains, as will be seen in lyrics such as “Golden Fugitive,” “The Crane is My Neighbour,” and the title piece, as well as in the sustained “The Poor Can Feed the Birds.” Of new interest is the inclusion here of Shaw Neilson’s light verse, in which medium he has a rare and delightful touch all his own.
C. Hartley Grattan (Carnegie Research Scholar), in an article in the “Australian Quarterly,” says that Shaw Neilson, Bernard O’Dowd, Furnley Maurice, Chris. Brennan, and William Baylebridge are the five Australian poets “who have something to say and can say it effectively.” Further, that in them “we have all the poets worthy of really close inspection” in the “reassessment of the nature and purpose of poetry.”
Shaw Neilson, Beauty Imposes: Some Recent Verse, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1938, page 7