Image from the excellent OzLit blog Matilda.
There is a good online collection of Slessor’s poems on Old Poetry, including “Snowdrops”. Reading Larry Writer’s Razor (Pan Macmillan 2001) as I have been lately I can now make sense of the poem, itself a document of the Darlinghurst and Surry Hills of Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh. “Snowdrops” = “cocaine”.
The Snowdrop Girl in fields of snowdrops walks,
Whiter than foam, deeper than waters flowing,
Flakes of wild milk gone blowing,
Snowing on cloudy stalks.
The Snowdrop Girl goes picking flowers of snow,
Blossoms of darkness bubbling into dreams,
In a strange country, by the shadowy streams
Where the cruel petals of the Coke-tree grow.
From the smoke and the fume of the backyard room,
Where poverty sits and gloats,
On runaway feet from a dirty street
To a field of snow she floats;
And tickets to Hell have a curious smell
And a dangerous crystal whiff,
Where men hawk Death in a snowdrops’s breath
At a couple of shillings a sniff.
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