The Bard and the Lizard by John Shaw Neilson

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The lizard leans in to October,
   He walks on the yellow and green;
The world is awake and unsober,
   It knows where the lovers have been.
The wind, like a faint violoncello,
   Comes up and commands him to sing:
He says to me, "Courage, good fellow!
We live by the folly of Spring!"

A fish that the sea cannot swallow,
   A bird that can never yet rise,
A dreamer no dreamer can follow,
   The snake is at home in his eyes.
He tells me the paramount Treason;
   His words have the resolute ring;
"Away with the homage to Reason!
   We live by the folly of Spring!"

The leaves are about him; the berry
   Is close in the red and the green.
His eyes are too old to be merry,
   He knows where the lovers have been.
And yet he could never be bitter;
   He tells me no sorrowful thing:
"The Autumn is less than a twitter!
   We live by the folly of Spring!"

As green as the light on a salad,
   He leans in the shade of a tree;
He has the good breath of a Ballad,
   The strength that is down in the sea.
How silent he creeps in the yellow --
   How silent! and yet can he sing:
He gives me, "Good morning, good fellow!
   We live by the folly of Spring!"

I scent the alarm of the faded
   Who love not the light and the play;
I hear the assault of the jaded,
   I hear the intolerant bray.
My friend has the face of the wizard;
   He tells me no desolate thing:
"I learn from the heart of the lizard,
   We live by the folly of Spring!"

First published in Aussie, 14 March 1931;
and later in
An Introduction to Australian Literature edited by C. D. Narasimhaiah, 1965;
Cross-Country: A Book of Australian Verse edited by John Barnes, 1984;
My Country: Australian poetry and Short Stories, Two Hundred Years edited by Leonie Kramer, 1985;
Two Centuries of Australian Poetry edited by Mark O'Connor, 1988;
An Anthology of Australian Poetry edited by C. D. Narasimhaiah, 1990;
John Shaw Neilson: Poetry, Autobiography and Correspondence edited by Cliff Hanna, 1991;
Selected Poems edited by Robert Gray, 1993; and
Hell and After: Four Early English Language Poets of Australia edited by Les Murray, 2005.

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 March 14, 2012 7:02 AM.

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