John Shaw Neilson

Tell Summer That I Died

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.






When he was old and thin
And knew not night or day
He would sit up to say
Something of the fire within.
How woefully his chin
Moved so slowly as he tried
Some lusty word to say:
Tell Summer that I died.

When gladness sweeps the land,
And to the white sky
Cool butterflies go by,
And sheep in shadow stand;
When Love, the old command,
Turns every hate aside,
In the unstinted days
Tell Summer that I died.

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