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The Land where I was Born

John Shaw Neilson 1872 (Penola, South Australia) – 1942 (Melbourne, Victoria)

HAVE you ever been down to my countree
Where the trees are green and tall?
The days are long and the heavens are high,
But the people there are small.
There is no work there; it is always play;
The sun is sweet in the morn;
But a thousand dark things walk at night
In the land where I was born.

Have you ever been down to my countree
Where the birds made happy Spring?
The parrots screamed from the honey-trees,
And the jays hopped chattering.
Strange were the ways of the water-birds
In the brown swamps, night and morn;
I knew the roads they had in the reeds
In the land where I was born.

Have you ever been down to my countree?
Have you ridden the horses there?
They had silver manes, and we made them prance
And plunge and gallop and rear.
We were knights of the olden time,
When the old chain-mail was worn:
The swords would flash and the helmets crash
In the land where I was born.

Have you ever been down to my countree?
It was full of smiling queens:
They had flaxen hair, they were white and fair,
But they never reached their teens.
Their shoes were small and their dreams were tall:
Wonderful frocks were worn;
But the queens all strayed from the place we played,
In the land where I was born.

I know you have been to my countree
Though I never saw you there;
I know you have loved all things I have loved,
Flowery, sweet, and fair.
The days were long,—it was always play;
But we,—we were tired and worn;
They could not welcome us back again
To the land where I was born.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:27 min read

John Shaw Neilson

John Shaw Neilson was an Australian poet. Slightly built, for most of his life he worked as a labourer, fruit-picking, clearing scrub, navvying and working in quarries, and, after 1928, working as a messenger with the Country Roads Board in Melbourne. he died when he was 70 years old. more…

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