Penola alleyway mural pays homage to famous poet

Adelaide graffiti artist Zeno has been working day and night - literally - to bring a mural to life which celebrates John Shaw Neilson's poem, 'The Orange Tree'.

"I've got to fit it in with my day job, so I've been trying to fit it (the mural) in when I can, a couple of hours in the morning and the evening."

Zeno received the interesting assignment from Penola gallery owner Guy Detot, who owns the Le Max Gallery at 28 Young Street.

"I was down here for a holiday and was having a look inside the gallery, and Guy asked, 'Are you an artist?' I said yes, and showed him some of my work.

"He said, you must come with me, and took me for a walk to see some statues, and one of them was of Shaw Neilson."

Guy commissioned Zeno to paint a mural on the side of the Young Street alleyway which paid homage to the famous poet, and after a bit of research, Zeno chose 'The Orange Tree'.

On Monday May 20 Zeno set to work, painting the background blue before getting to work on the details. After being used to working in cities where there's distractions in the form of curious pedestrians, being in the country was a relaxing change of pace.

Guy is pleased to see the alley being brought back to life, and hopes that locals and tourists will come to see the completed artwork.

"People don't notice it (the alley) usually, but it is great to have something like this here, it's very unique."

The Orange Tree

The young girl stood beside me. I

Saw not what her young eyes could see:

A light, she said, not of the sky

Lives somewhere in the Orange Tree.

Is it, I said, of east or west?

The heartbeat of a luminous boy

Who with his faltering flute confessed

Only the edges of his joy?

Was he, I said, born to the blue

In a mad escapade of Spring

Ere he could make a fond adieu

To his love in the blossoming?

Listen! the young girl said. There calls

No voice, no music beats on me;

But it is almost sound: it falls

This evening on the Orange Tree.

Does he, I said, so fear the Spring

Ere the white sap too far can climb?

See in the full gold evening

All happenings of the olden time?

Is he so goaded by the green?

Does the compulsion of the dew

Make him unknowable but keen

Asking with beauty of the blue?

Listen! the young girl said. For all

Your hapless talk you fail to see

There is a light, a step, a call,

This evening on the Orange Tree.

Is it, I said, a waste of love

Imperishably old in pain,

Moving as an affrighted dove

Under the sunlight or the rain?

Is it a fluttering heart that gave

Too willingly and was reviled?

Is it the stammering at a grave,

The last word of a little child?

Silence! the young girl said. Oh why,

Why will you talk to weary me?

Plague me no longer now, for I

Am listening like the Orange Tree.

- John Shaw Neilson (1919).