A Classic Year: 12.0 "The Gentle Water-Bird" by John Shaw Neilson

John Shaw Neilson was born in 1872 in Penola, South Australia, the eldest son of the poet John Neilson. The country life was hard at that time and Neilson only spent two and a half years at school before leaving to help his family. The Neilson family moved around a lot over the next few years until they settled near Nhill in western Victoria.

Nelson's first poems were published in the local Nhill newspaper and his had his first poem in "The Bulletin" in 1896. The poetry in Australia of that time was dominated by Paterson and Lawson and tended towards the well-known bush poetry genre. Shaw Neilson was different. His poetry was of a lyrical form, viewing nature and the surrounding countryside with a new eye, resulting in a body of work that has continued to grow in esteem.

"The Gentle Water-Bird" is a case in point. Consisting of 16 verses of 3 lines each, the poem is Shaw Neilson's evocation of God in nature. There is no quasi-mysticism here, just a gentle sense of God in the world.

Full text of the poem. [PDF file]
A John Shaw Neilson webpage.

The next four works in this Classic Year:
13. My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin (1901)
14. The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay (1918)
15. Coonardoo by Katherine Susannah Prichard (1929)
16. 10 for 66 and All That by Arthur Mailey (1958)

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on April 7, 2008 9:07 PM.

Combined Reviews: Secrets of the Sea by Nicholas Shakespeare was the previous entry in this blog.

Australian Bookcovers #109 - Hits! Skits! and Jingles! by W.T Goodge is the next entry in this blog.

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