Poem: Hugh McCrae and Shaw Neilson by Olive Willey

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When Hugh McCrae takes up the pen
The sweaty centaurs stamp and prance,
Their hooves come thund'ring down the glen
And scatter green-clad dryads' dance;  
At maid and knight in sweetheart love
A satyr sneers from dark dim cave,
A dragon snatches bleeding glove
And makes a mock of manhood brave;  
Hugh drains the bowl of Rhenish wine
And calls to dance Elizabeth,
The 'cellos sigh for Columbine
And Hugh is not afraid of death;
But Neilson's songs much sweeter are
With ecstasy of springtime wine,
No ugly thought will ever jar
The tenderness of love divine
When Neilson sings of man and maid;
He sings of cherries red mid green
And all the wonders that shall fade
When summer brown comes in as queen;
The light that shines on orange trees
From realms rarely seen by men,
Is caught in Neilson's ecstasies
And prisoned by his poet's pen,
And music from the further spheres
Where man's sublimal love is born
Has cut his bonds of human fears
And made him strong who was so worn,
And there among the shadows cool
Where stood the gentle water bird
In reeds about the silver pool
His Maker's Voice he clearly heard.

First published in the Western Mail, 27 February 1947

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