He was born in 1872 to parents of Scottish ancestry at Penola, South Australia. Neilson's father, John Neilson, wrote poetry, and encouraged his son's interest in doing so. His wife, Margaret, was by all accounts warm and loving, but also rigidly Presbyterian and prone to nervousness....the family moved throughout north-west Victoria in search of a better life, but never managed to overcome their poverty as other early settlers had done. Neilson worked with his father clearing scrub, and often composed poems in his head.
the concluding lines of "The Walker on the Sand" (1934):
The spires so delicate are but the fears
Of the poor fishes back a million years;
These terraces that bring the eye delight
Are but the wishes of the birds at night.
They all have feared the Riddler, he who planned
The reptiles and the fishes hungry from the sea.
Slowly I walk, I walk uneasily
Along the sand.
"The Smoker Parrot"
He has the full moon on his breast,
The moonbeams are about his wing;
He has the colours of a king.
I see him floating unto rest
When all eyes wearily go west
And the warm winds are quieting.
The moonbeams are about his wing:
He has the full moon on his breast.
A savage old critic named Dyer,
Renowned for his gloom and his ire.
XXXWhen to Hell he went down
XXXLooked around with a frown
And began to belittle the fire.
from "The Eleventh Moon"
Night--and the silence honey-wet:
XXXThe moon came to the full:
It was the time for gentle thought
XXXAnd the gathering of wool.
Monday, September 24, 2007
TLS September 21 2007
from Oliver Dennis' Commentary piece "Smoke rings" on the first unapologetic poet of Australia, John Shaw Neilson: