In the Street by John Shaw Neilson

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The night, the rain, who could forget? --
The grey streets glimmering in the wet:
Wreckers and ruined wreckage met:
   There was no dearth
Of all the unlovely things that yet
   Must plague the earth.

Gloom, and the street's unhallowed joys:
The sly-eyed girls, the jeering boys:
Faint-carolling amid the noise
   A woman worn --
A broken life: a heart, a voice,
   Trembling and torn.

She did not sing of hillside steep,
Of reapers stooping low to reap;
No love-lorn shepherd with his sheep
   Made moan or call:
A mother kissed her child asleep,
   And that was all.

Slowly into our hearts there crept
I know not what: it flamed! it leapt!
Was it God's love that in us slept?
   I saw the mark
Of tears upon her, as she stept
   Into the dark.

First published in The Bookfellow, 4 April 1907, and again in the same magazine August 1914;
and later in
Poems by John Shaw Neilson, 1964;
Australian Letters, 4 September 1964;
The Vital Decade: Ten Years of Australian Art and Letters edited by Geoffrey Dutton, 1968;
Green Days and Cherries: the early verses of Shaw Neilson edited by Hugh Anderson and Leslie James Blake, 1981;
The Collins Book of Australian Poetry compiled by Rodney Hall, 1981;
John Shaw Neilson: Poetry, Autobiography and Correspondence edited by Cliff Hanna, 1991; and
Selected Poems edited by Robert Gray, 1993.

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 April 4, 2011 8:37 AM.

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