O Lady of the Dazzling Flowers by John Shaw Neilson

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O, lady of the dazzling flowers
And the frock so white and fine,
How hopeless is thy prettiness
And that cool heart of thine!

Thou has not been to the rude field
Where men and women war;
Thou hast not found what a woman's mouth
And a man's full heart are for.

Thy speech is all of a thin calm,
Of sleep and slow sunshine:
Oh, hopeless is thy happiness
And that pale heart of mine!

Through the love-feud and the love-thirst
Thou hast not fought and smiled;
Thou hast not heard the strings that speak
In the crying of a child.

Thou has not seen where tears lie hot
And words can only run,
Thou has not cried to the bare night
Nor prayed for the white sun.

First published in The Bookfellow, 15 February 1914;
and later in
Green Days and Cherries: the early verses of Shaw Neilson edited by Hugh Anderson and Leslie James Blake, 1981; and
Selected Poems edited by Robert Gray, 1993.

Author: John Shaw Neilson (1872-1942) was born in Penola, South Australia.  His father, John Neilson was also a published poet who earned his living on the land, mostly as an itinerant labourer after his farm in Victoria failed.  Shaw Neilson had little schooling but did have a flair for poetry and began publishing in the early 1870s in local papers such as the Nhill Mail.  He graduated to appearing in major periodicals such as The Bulletin and Bookfellow, and published 6 collections of his work during his lifetime.  Since his death his reputation has only continued to grow. He died in Melbourne in 1942.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on February 15, 2011 8:12 AM.

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