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John Shaw Neilson Biography

(1872–1942), Old Granny Sullivan, Heart of Spring, Ballads and Lyrical Poems, Beauty Imposes, Witnesses of Spring

poet spring poetry verse

Australian poet, born at Penola, South Australia, the son of the poet John Neilson (18421922); he received an elementary education in Minimay, Victoria, and spent most of his adult life as an itinerant labourer. Having achieved recognition as a poet, he was awarded a pension from the Commonwealth Literary Fund in 1922 and held a sinecure with the Melbourne County Roads Board from 1928 onward. In 1896 his verse began appearing in periodicals and his first volume of poetry, Old Granny Sullivan, was published in 1916. His subsequent collections include Heart of Spring (1919), Ballads and Lyrical Poems (1923), and Beauty Imposes (1938). Witnesses of Spring (edited by J. Wright and others, 1970) and Green Days and Cherries (edited by M. Anderson and L. J. Blake, 1981) were assembled posthumously; The Poems (1965) is a collected edition produced by A. R. Chisholm. The refined musicality of Neilson's verse and its austere lyrical clarity have established him as one of the most noteworthy of Australia's poets of the early twentieth century. The best of his poetry displays a visionary depth of response in its elegiac and celebratory treatments of the natural world. The Folly of Spring (1990) is a study of Neilson by Cliff Hanna.

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