The White Flowers Came
’Twas in the sweet month, tremulous
With dancing joys that none may quell,
The white flowers came upon the world:
They taught the old-time parable.
Life looked so very sweet a thing:
The watcher wept, the lights burned low:
He moved, he felt the long cold kiss
And yet it seemed not good to go.
Two damsels, underneath the stars,
Lay listening on the cool green ground:
Faint as the falling dew they heard
The song that spins the world around.
Strange bickering rose where Death and Life
Sat quarrelling on the green hillside ..
Soft as a blessing spoke the bells,
Blue sky and blossoms for a bride.
Toiling and tired at close of day
A thin white widow woman prayed ..
In many a lighted town was told
The mystery of man and maid ..
’Twas in the grey of eventime,
Cool earth and sky delightsome mild,
God’s pity came … In tears he saw
The blue eyes of a little child.
Shaw Neilson, Heart of Spring, Sydney: The Bookfellow, 1919, pages 81-82
Also published in:
John Shaw Neilson, Ballad and Lyrical Poems, Sydney: The Bookfellow in Australia, 1923, page 103
John Shaw Neilson (edited by R. H. Croll), Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson, Melbourne: Lothian Book Publishing Company, 1934, page 73
In the last stanza, apparently in reference to God, the wording given is “In tears he saw”, whereas usually in Neilson’s works any reference to God is capitalised (normally, that phrase would be given as “In tears He saw”); that phrase in the poem is the same in Heart of Spring (1919), Ballad and Lyrical Poems (1923), and Collected Poems of John Shaw Neilson (1934).
’twas = (archaic) a contraction of “it was”