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Number One of 1944 



In this Number . . . 

TIME S HURT By Ken Levis 





ADAM LINDSAY GORDON By George Gordon McCrae 




MOTHER OF DAN By Murray Gordon 





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Subscription for four numbers (including postage), eight shillings and sixpence. 

Registered at the G.P.O. Sydney for transmission by post as a periodical. 


R. G. Howarth, B.A., B.Litt., 
Department of English, University of Sydney. 

Business Manager 

F. T. Herman, B.A., 

55 William Street, Roseville. 

Advisory Committee 

Beatrice Davis, B.A., H. M. Green, B.A., LL.B., Thelma Herring, 
M.A., A. D. Hope, B.A., A. D. Mitchell, M.A., Ph.D. (Chairman of 
the Executive Committee of the A.E.A.), with H. M. Butterley 
(Honorary Secretary) and Lilian Shephard, B.A., B.Ec. (Honorary 


Contributions are invited from all writers, whether members of the 
Association or not. A stamped and addressed envelope should be 
enclosed for return of unsuitable contributions. Should circum 
stances permit, payment for contributions accepted will be made later. 

Southerly is printed for the Australian English Association, 
Sydney, by the Australasian Medical Publishing Company Limited, 
Seamer Street, Glebe, on behalf of Angus and Robertson Limited, 
89 Castlereagh Street, Sydney. It is obtainable from Angus and 
Robertson Limited and from all other leading booksellers in 






Editorial 3 

Public Library, by Karl Shapiro , . . 4 

Time s Hurt, by Ken Levis 5 

John Donne Undone, by W. Milgate 8 

Sonnet, by Rupert Atkinson .. .. .. II 

Elegy for a Dead Soldier, by Karl Shapiro 12 

On a Day: A Warning Not to Dance, by Hugh McCrae . . . . 15 

The Blank Verse of "The Wanderer" 16 

We Are the Gods, by Rupert Atkinson 17 

Promenade, by R. T. Dunlop 17 

Shaken Mists, by Mary Lisle . . . , 18 

Crusoe, by Karl Shapiro 25 

Adam Lindsay Gordon, by George Gordon McCrae 26 

Flood, by Ian Maxwell 28 

The Invocation, by A. D. Hope 29 

A Harpur Discovery 31 

Recollection of Mubo, by R. T. Dunlop 31 

Johnson Frustrated, by Hugh McCrae 32 

A [i] 


Wamba, by Peter Hopegood 35 

Storm Central Station, by Kathleen McKay 36 

Mother of Dan, by Murray Gordon 37 

Miss Hardy s "Donne": Additional Remarks, by R.G.H 43 

/ Loved You . . ., translated from Pushkin by R. H. Morrison 43 
Writer and Reader 

Their Reach Exceeds their Grasp, by Joyce Ackroyd . . . . 44 

"Affirmation" in "Poetry", by O. N. Burgess 47 

Twixt Totem and Taboo, by C. R. Jury 49 

Some Australian Poets and War, by M. Hagney 51 

Brave Spirit, by Ian Maxwell 53 

The Poet s Vision, by H. G. Seccombe . . . . 53 

Unexpectedness, by Ian Maxwell . . . . 54 

Poet Militant, by G. Tennent and S. Deane 55 

Personal Poem, by Norman K. Harvey 56 

The Australian English Association 

Addresses, 1943 58 

Annual Dinner, 1943 59 

Annual Report, 1943 60 

Financial Statement, 1943 . . 62 

Our Poetry Readings 57 

Notes : 6 1 




The present number of Southerly now in its fifth year marks 
the beginning of a new series. Solution. of our financial problems 
has made possible an increase in size and an improvement in presenta 
tion. We hope to continue publication of the magazine in this form, 
and also to issue it, in future, every quarter. 

While Southerly will maintain its character as a catholic medium 
and critical review, even more attention is to be paid to Australian 
literature than in the past. Among the contributions by living writers, 
in this number, will be found works by some who are part of our 
literary tradition : a poem of Charles Harpur s, a letter written by 
Chris. Brennan in explanation of the verse of his sequence "The 
Wanderer", and a personal reminiscence, by George Gordon McCrae, 
of Adam Lindsay Gordon ; none of which has been published before. 
In the next number we plan to include selections from hitherto unpub 
lished writings by J. A. R. McKellar. Readers who have in their 
hands material of similar character and interest are invited to submit 
it for publication. 

The firm of Angus and Robertson Ltd., booksellers and publishers, 
of Sydney, has generously agreed to finance Southerly for a period, 
and will in future distribute the copies, with the exception of those 
issued to members of the Australian English Association. 

As Southerly enters on this new stage of its career, we take the 
opportunity of repeating our thanks to all supporters in the past, and 
expressing the hope that their confidence and continued support will be 
fully justified. Large promises would be as much out of place here as 
would depreciation, direct or indirect, of the achievements of other 
publications, to which we wish as well as we trust their producers 
do ours. 




To E.P.F.L. 

Voltaire would weep for joy, Plato would stare. 
What is it, easier than a church to enter, 
Politer than a department store, this centre 
That like Grand Central leads to everywhere? 
Is it more civic than the City Hall ? 
For whose great heart is this the monument? 
Where is the reader at the stationer s stall, 
The copyist hollow-eyed and bald and bent? 

Its one demand is freedom, its one motto 
Deep in the door, Read, Know and Tolerate. 
That tree of knowledge from which Adam ate 
Flourishes here, our costly quid pro quo. 
It shades us like a Mission with its green, 
Its girls, its neatness, and its excellent quiet. 
In all the city no paving is so clean, 
So broad, so permanent. Croesus cannot buy it. 

Long long ago these photographs of thought 
In cell and stoa and school and catacomb 
Accumulated; scroll, palimpsest, tome, 
Books chained to walls and Bibles bound in brass, 
Fragments of science, cherished, disinterred, 
And one found a machine that like a glass 
Could mirror, multiply and save the word. 

Who kriows? Some disappointed scholar here, 
Some poet with vision faultless as a beam, 
Some child with half-articulated dream, 
May reach and touch the spring that opens clear 
On brilliant prospects of new history. 
How many daily doubts are here resolved, 
Secrets exhumed, brought out of mystery, 
Hypotheses defeated, cases solved? 

And what we call behaviour and goodwill 

Are modelled here in fiction. On the slate 

Of the fresh mind fresh images dilate, 

And lives turn at a phrase, and lives stand still. 

This gathering of silent volumes roars 

Uninterrupted, ceaseless, without ban; 

These teachings break through wide-flung open doors, 

The Talmud, Naso, and The Rights of Man. 

May 24, 1943, 
New Guinea. 



The wind pushed the grey foliage of the ironbarks before it, so 
that the black trunks stood bare while branches and twigs struggled 
with the gale. Their movements resembled the straining and lifting of 
a fish fighting against a taut line. Every now and then brittle twigs 
would snap and sail on the wind s force to the grey thin grass of the 
hillside where they would bowl over and over till caught by one of the 
small bushes tugged by the westerly. 

Around the house the wind was most insistent. It swept across 
the valley from the far hills, up along the spur to the house. The 
house seemed to split the gale in two streams, each curving, on up 
the hill over the red clay patches and cattle tracks, curving up past 
the cow yards and bails and thence swirling on again in one swift 
stream broken only by ironbarks the timbergetters had not yet taken. 
The earth, it appeared, crouched beneath the clean swirl of the gale. 
The patches of thin dry grass looked to be racing headlong over the 

As the boy stared at the labouring trees he felt the desire to go out 
of the house into the stream of the wind. Everything in the house was 
quiet. Now and then the side window through which he gazed would 
rattle as a cross-current of wind struck the wall. From time to time 
the frame building would shudder on its piles, when sudden gusts from 
the valley punched against its high front. 

The boy let himself out by the back door where the force of the 
w T ind was least. For some minutes he stood by the tank-stand listening 
to the gale. The spoutings and gables combed the rushing air into a 
swirling of sighs and whistlings. The tank intimately rumbled a steady 
protest. Over at the fowl house a piece of iron clang-clang-clanged 
with vigour. A hen attempting a last picking in the darkening light 
stood braced against the wind, its black feathers sprayed over its body. 

The boy stepped away from the buildings into the unbroken 
stream of the wind. At once he abandoned himself to it. He sprinted 
off across the hill face, his coat flying. He caught its ends and held it 
tight, outstretched as a sail, and raced. Then he turned and ran against 
the wind, mouth open. He felt the wind curling, sweet and cool, 
within his mouth against the hollow of his cheeks. Reaching the rail 
fence he climbed on a stolid old weathered corner-post. He stood 
there, bracing himself against the gale, the rough post top pimpling 
his bare feet. He expanded his chest, beat it hard Avith his fists in 



defiance, and shouted with all the might he could muster. The wind 
continued its blowing. A feeling of outdaring the gale held him. He 
shouted, waved his arms, then stood poised, statue-like, sensing the 
keen delight of the wind curving by his warm body. 

Suddenly his mood changed. He jumped backwards from the 
post top, turned in the air, landed on all fours as he had often practised 
and rushed up the slope, the wind assisting. He ran on tip-toe as he 
had read sprinters ran. He only allowed the balls of his feet to touch 
the soil. He sped noiselessly as he could, wondering whether Redskins 
made less noise than he. They went noiselessly through the forest. He 
concentrated upon avoiding any twig likely to snap, he skirted the long 
grass in his endeavour to outdo the Indians. Then he avoided the red 
clay patches, treading only on the short grass lest his tracks be spied 
by possible pursuers. 

With a change of thought he became a speedway rider, holding his 
arms bent as dirt-track aces do. Grasping his handlebars he swerved 
and raced and cut in, his lips stuttering the roar of the full-throttled 

In a final burst of speed he drew up by the rails to the out- 
paddock. He climbed through and, puffing, turned towards the steeper 
slope. He snatched up dry sticks and sent them whirling and leaping 
with the wind. Then he experimented with sticks hurled high against 
it. They soared carefully, swerved and returned overhead, boomerang- 
fashion. The boy rushed to an ironbark felled by the sleeper-cutters, 
ran along its fallen trunk, clambered over the greying bark of the 
branches, swung out beyond the yellowing clusters of drying leaves. 
He raced back to the stump, reaching up to scrape with this finger the 
jdly-like red gum below the cut. He tasted it and spat it out at once. 
He gathered the largest chips, trying his strength by lifting them above 
his head with one hand, then hurled them a little distance with the 
westerly s aid. As he ran on he smelt the sweet tang of the new-cut 
chips s* *? on his hands. It was good. 

Now he stopped to look back at the house below him on the 
windy slope. The wind took the smoke from the chimney and swirled 
it instantly out of sight in the half-light. The boy ran on, taking 
gigantic steps along the open ground. Suddenly he stopped. He heard 
the stuttering alarm cry of the plovers. 

Through the dim light he peered seeking the grey birds. He 
wondered if he should find their nest. Before, he had never succeeded. 
He went on, searching the bare-ground patches, looking for hollows 
where the speckled eggs might be lying. The plovers were crying 



together, the harsh piercing noise whirled about by the wind. The boy 
considered their cleverness. They would run deliberately to lead him 
from the nest. As he stayed searching likely ground, the first bird 
made its sudden attack. A whirr of wings and a sharp beak-snap just 
over his head. The boy ducked and shouted at the wheeling bird. Its 
mate now wheeled round, banking on the wind with piercing cries, and 
came in snapping at the boy. For a while he watched them, waving his 
arms as they snapped at him in their fury. Then, seizing a long 
crooked stick he whirled it round his head as if defending his life from 
some foe. "Come on !" he shouted at the birds and the wind. "Come 
on ! See what you get !" 

The first plover came swooping along the wind, pursuing its 
shattering cry. The boy swung his stick, feeling himself some hero of 
old stepped from his story books. He was defending this outpost. The 
bird came in close, snapped, and the stick caught its body, lifting it 
high above the boy, tossing it on to the ground yards away. The plover 
tried to fly in vain while its mate circled above with its loud piercing 
cries. Each time the bird struggled the wind would catch it, blowing 
it over and over. The boy s dreams had fled with the blow. He had 
not thought to hurt the plover. He went down and picked up the wing 
the stick had wrenched off. The little piece of raw flesh at its end 
filled him with anguish. He ran after the bird, hoping to catch it and 
carry it back to the spot where its nest must be. But each time he 
approached, the wounded plover would run on, desperately giving a 
little half-flutter, and then be rolled over and over by the wind. It 
couldn t realise it could fly no longer. In desperation the boy tried to 
catch the bird, but it kept ahead of him stubbornly till he left off the 

In his bitterness he reproached himself with that bitter self- 
accusation of childhood, deep as if is rare. Without knowing why, he 
carried the wing back with him inside his shirt. Before he reached 
home he carefully laid it in a hollow by the fallen ironbark and put 
stones over it so it wouldn t blow away. 

As he entered the sudden warmth of the kitchen, he became aware 
of the night wind streaming past. It filled the air with fancied 
echoes of the lost bird s stuttering cries. 





By now, after fifty years and more of penetrating and sensitive 
study on the part of many of the acute and scholarly critics working 
during that time, a book on the life and character of Donne must 
possess great merit indeed to hold its own, or for that matter even to 
justify its existence. It is doubtful whether Miss Evelyn Hardy s 
study, John Donne A Spirit in Coflict* can do either. If her book is 
meant as an introduction for the general reader (and the style usually 
suggests that this is so), it fails because it gives a wholly misleading 
picture of Donne as an almost desperate pathological "case" ; though 
in the sketches of the Elizabethan background, arid of the personalities 
with whom Donne became involved, Miss Hardy achieves some vivid 
touches. If, on the other hand, she means her book as a scholarly and 
exhaustive biography, such as has been urgently needed for some 
years, she has been far from successful. From the latter point of 
view, indeed, Miss Hardy s book resembles a collection of a 
psychologist s musing as he vaguely peruses a life of Donne written 
some fifteen years ago. 

In format, the book is a model of lightness and compactness 
the neatness of appearance and arrangement amply displaying a skill 
and resource in facing war-time restrictions which should influence 
book-publishing permanently and for the good. Though, however, 
there is a list of errata, it is very far from complete. A casual 
inspection reveals the following deficiencies: p. 12, "unmistakeable" ; 
p. 14 footnote, "Sir" Izaak Walton, and the page reference is to no 
particular edition of the Lives] p. 79 footnote, Sir "Charles" 
Cornwallis (= Sir William) ; p. 92, "Sherrif"; p. 133, "Anninersary" ; 
p. 169, "install" ; p. 180, "beseiged"f Again, in matters of fact, Miss 
Hardy is not reliable. She shows herself even more credulous than 
Gosse in associating Donne with the "Mermaid" tavern during his 
earlier years in London, the evidence being of the slightest ; she quotes 
a letter in proof of Donne s gloom during 1608-9 (p. 112) now known 
to be a concoction by Walton of the pessimistic passages from several 
letters ; she bases a long study of Welshmen in London during 
Elizabeth s reign on Walton s doubtful assertion that Donne s father 
was of Welsh stock; it was in the Devotions, not the Sermons (p. 15), 
that Donne says "My parents would not give me over to a servant s 
correction" and we cannot be sure that it refers to Donne personally ; 
Miss Hardy repeats Mrs. Simpson s statement in A Study of the Prose 
* Constable, 1942. 



Works that it was Dr. Jessopp who cleared Donne s name of the 
charge of complicity in the legal proceedings over Somerset s marriage, 
whereas in the Dictionary of National Biography (1888) Jessopp 
expressly accuses Donne of that complicity; she states definitely 
without proof that Donne was one of the "adventurers" in the Virginia 
Company; and she accepts the identification of the Dr. Andrews whose 
book was damaged while in Donne s possession, with the great bishop. 
The dogmatic dating of certain poems is often open to question : the 
verse letter "To the Countess of Huntingdon" ("That unripe side of 
earth") is said to have been sent from Plymouth (1597), apparently 
to the mother-in-law of the Countess who is the recipient of the other 
verse letters; "A Funeral Elegy" is ascribed to the early lyric period; 
the "Nocturnall upon St. Lucy s Day" is linked with Lady Bedford s 
illness in 1612; "The Primrose", "The Blossome" and "The Dampe", 
in all their biting sarcasm, are ascribed to 1613, Magdalen Herbert 
being the lady celebrated therein ; and the "Hymne to God My God" 
is still asserted to be a death-bed composition. One w^ould be interested, 
too, in any evidence that Donne was made a D.D.,of both Oxford and 
Cambridge in 1615, and that Donne claimed to have met Lord Hay 
through Francis Bacon ; I have not seen Lady Anne Clifford s diary, 
but suppose it to be the authority for Miss Hardy s statement that 
Donne preached at Knole in July, 1617, before the Earl of Dorset. 

The omissions are also noteworthy ; and it is significant that they 
are chiefly facts concerned with Donne s active life in society (what 
Miss Hardy would, I suppose, call his extravert activities) that are 
omitted. Thus she mentions neither of Donne s terms in Parliament 
(1601, 1614); she follows Walton s account of his journey with the 
Druries, omitting any reference to the brilliant reconstruction of his 
travels which appeared some time before the appearance of Miss 
Hardy s book, and she quotes the "apparition" story in full ; no record 
appears of Donne s activity on either the Ecclesiastical Commission of 
June, 1629, or (an event not so far included in any life of Donne) on 
that of July I3th, 1628.* Little is made of the influence of Copernican 
and Galilean thought on the mind and art of Donne, though the subject 
has been fully studied by scholars. 

More serious still is Miss Hardy s habit of making sweeping, and 
for that reason, inaccurate, generalizations. Here are a few : "On the 
whole, Donne fails to be lyrical" ; Jonson s phrases on Donne are 
"indicative of contemporary opinion" ; "The five Satires of Donne 
imitate Juvenal" ; "He never broke out into new and original thought" ; 

* In a letter to The Times Literary Supplement of August ist, 1942, I 
inadvertently gave the date of this Commission as June. 



Egerton "was the first whom he frankly regarded in the light of a 
father" ; he "attempts to foreshadow a theory of evolution objectively 
in The Progresse of the Soule " ; his entry into the Church "cleansed" 
Donne. All these statements are erroneous, or not sufficiently qualified. 
Indeed, Miss Hardy s style throughout seldom achieves grace or 
complete lucidity. She asks pointless rhetorical questions, strains 
metaphors, and is capable of such sentences as these : "The library 
(and doubtless the latter objects) was plundered and carried aboard"; 
"The ravelled sleeve of care hung ever upon his arm and, like the 
garments which Penelope wove so fruitlessly, never warmed his 
chillness of heart". It may be this defect which causes Miss Hardy 
continually to misinterpret or force the expressions used by Donne 
and others. She seems to think that any phrase that "rings true" is 
autobiographical ; statements like these are frequent : "such a passage 
rings too true for casual knowledge" or "rings too true to be pleasantly 
imaginative". Such statements, though paying to Donne s power of 
convincing expression a notable compliment, lead to most misleading 
conclusions. Yet another critical fault is the assumption that the 
thought expressed in any poem is numbered among the real convictions 
of the poet. Thus the line "Wicked is not much worse than indiscreet" 
is used to suggest that Donne was of a "secretive nature". 

Most serious of all is the basic defect of the whole book. The 
motto is taken from Ernest Jones s essay on Hamlet ; Miss Hardy 
herself speaks of a love "which, like Hamlet s, got twisted from its 
natural heritage and was nourished on a false diet", and says that 
Donne, like Hamlet, "would risk nothing to gain something" (this of 
the lover of Anne More!). Of course, the analogy between Hamlet 
and Donne has long been a commonplace of Donne criticism ; and Miss 
Hardy has now attempted a psycho-analytic study, secure from the 
charge that she is perverting criticism by performing clinical psychology 
on an imaginary figure. So Donne is assumed to be suffering from an 
advanced and pernicious "Oedipus complex" among other neuroses. 
In the course of the book, all the normal facts of human experience, 
and many of the abnormal, are painted in violent colours, and heaped 
upon the unhappy Donne. He is said to suffer, for example, from a 
conflict arising from "this early, painful, emotional upheaval centring 
round his mother s early marriage" ; from a "martyrdom" neurosis 
conflicting with the "rational, healthy side of Donne" ; there are in his 
personality conflicts between "impulse and passion" and "reason and 
reflective vision"; between "ruinous sensual fires of youth" and "the 
spiritual death of doubt and endless horror"; between "endearing 
simplicity" and "self -condemnatory pride"; between "action" and 



melancholy pensiveness" ; between "patriot" and "martyr" ; in short, 
between almost any activity of the mind and almost any other. Donne 
was also "profoundly ashamed of his bodily powers", not to mention 
hermaphroditic ! Miss Hardy apparently thinks that she has explained 
everything, simply by scattering through her book such phrases as 
"inner discord", "self-torturing conflict", "basic neurosis" and so on. 
How much all this "interpretation" is worth is shown by her con 
clusion: she asks, what was "the buried poison", the "dreadful 
reluctance"? "No-one can answer, for the secret died with its 
keeper" ! But on the next page, she continues, unperturbed, to write 
of "This tremendous struggle in the unconscious . . ." At length, 
after 250 pages in this vein, we have three containing a selection of 
extracts (and that not the best selection) to show the "joyful" side of 
Donne s make-up. And the final naivete is Miss Hardy s claim to 
credit for agreeing with such opinions of Donne as these, for which 
she is obliged to a handwriting expert who studied a specimen of the 
poet s calligraphy: "This is not an intellectually striking personality, 
nor is the intellect even strongly developed" ; there is "nothing of 
arrogance, or pretence, in his belief in himself. . . ." 

Miss Hardy s study cannot be said to have contributed much of 
importance to the criticism of Donne.* 

The Truth within us makes the world seem true ! 
We who can dare to rise can deign to fall ; 
Our lives are ours to relish and renew; 
Death is the gentle mother of us all. 

In time not far our vision shall so clear 
That we shall know the body is the soul 
Obscurely felt now, by our ignorant fear 
Extinguished, and revived by our control. 

This earth still tarries for our future bliss, 
Our loitering steps lag half the world away; 
This earth we fashioned from the void abyss 
To be our glad Valhalla night and day. 

Your faith in Your Own Soul, O Everyone, 
Is the same faith a flower has in the sun ! 


* See also page 43. 




A white sheet on the tail-gate of a truck 

Becomes an altar ; two small candlesticks 

Sputter at each side of the crucifix 

Laid round with flowers brighter than the blood, 

Red as the red of our apocalypse, 

Hibiscus that a marching man will pluck 

To stick into his rifle or his hat, 

And great blue morning-glories pale as lips 

That shall no longer taste or kiss or swear. 

The wind begins a low magnificat, 

The chaplain chats, the palmtrees swirl their hair, 

The columns come together through the mud. 


We too are ashes as we watch and hear 
The psalm, the sorrow, and the simple praise 
Of one whose promised thoughts of other days 
Were such as ours, but now wholly destroyed, 
The service record of his youth wiped out, 
His dream dispersed by shot, must disappear. 
What can we feel but wonder at a loss 
That seems to point at nothing but the doubt 
Which flirts our sense of luck into the ditch ? 
Reader of Paul who prays beside this fosse, 
Shall we believe our eyes or legends rich 
With glory and rebirth beyond the void? 


For this comrade is dead, dead in the war, 
A young man out of millions yet to live, 
One cut away from all that war can give, 
Freedom of self and peace to wander free. 
Who mourns in all this sober multitude 
Who did not feel the bite of it before 
The bullet found its aim? This worthy flesh, 
This boy laid in a coffin and reviewed 
Who has not wrapped himself in this same flag, 
Heard the light fall of dirt, his wound still fresh, 
Felt his eyes closed, and heard the distant brag 
Of the last volley of humanity? 


By chance I saw him die, stretched on the ground, 
A tattooed arm lifted to take the blood 
Of someone else sealed in a tin. I stood 
During the last delirium that stays 
The intelligence a tiny moment more, 



And then the strangulation, the last sound. 
The end was sudden, like a foolish play, 
A stupid fool slamming a foolish door, 
The absurd catastrophe, half-prearranged, 
And all the decisive things still left to say. 
So we disbanded, angrier and unchanged, 
Sick with the utter silence of dispraise. 

We ask for no statistics of the killed, 
For nothing political impinges on 
This single casualty, or all those gone, 
Missing or healing, sinking or dispersed, 
Hundreds of thousands counted, millions lost. 
More than an accident and less than willed 
Is every fall, and this one like the rest. 
However others calculate the cost, 
To us the final aggregate is one, 
One with a name, one transferred to the blest 
And though another stoops and takes the gun, 
We cannot add the second to the first. 


I would not speak for him who could not speak 
Unless my fear were true : he was not wronged, 
He knew to which decision he belonged 
But let it choose itself. Ripe in instinct, 
Neither the victim nor the volunteer, 
He followed, and the leaders could not seek 
Beyond the followers. Much of this he knew ; 
The journey was a detour that would steer 
Into the Lincoln Highway of a land 
Remorselessly improved, excited, new, 
And that was what he wanted. He had planned 
To earn and drive. He and the world had winked. 


No history deceived him, for he knew 
Little of times and armies not his own; 
He never felt that peace was but a loan, 
Had never questioned the idea of gain. 
Beyond the headlines once or twice he saw 
The gathering of a power by the few 
But could not tell their names ; he cast his vote, 
Distrusting all the elected but not law. 
He laughed at socialism ; on mourrait 
Pour les industriels? He shed his coat 
And not for brotherhood, but for his pay. 
To him the red flag marked the sewer main. 




Above all else he loathed the homily, 

The slogan and the ad. He paid his bill 

But not for Congressmen at Bunker Hill. 

Ideals were few and those there were not made 

For conversation. He belonged to church 

But never spoke of God. The Christmas tree, 

The Easter egg, baptism, he observed, 

Never denied the preacher on his perch, 

And would not sign Resolved That or Whereas, 

Softness he had and hours and nights reserved 

For thinking, dressing, dancing to the jazz. 

His laugh was real, his manners were home made. 


Of all men poverty pursued him least ; 
He was ashamed of all the down and out, 
Spurned the panhandler like an uneasy doubt, 
And saw the unemployed as a vague mass 
Incapable of hunger or revolt. 
He hated other races, south or east, 
And shoved them to the margin of his mind. 
He could recall ^he justice of the Colt, 
Take interest in a gang-war like a game. 
His ancestry was somewhere far behind 
And left him only his peculiar name. 
Doors opened, and he recognised no class. 


His children would have known a heritage, 

Just or unjust, the richest in the world, 

The quantum of all art and science curled 

In the horn of plenty, bursting from the horn, 

A people bathed in honey, Paris come, 

Vienna transferred with the highest wage, 

A World s Fair spread to Phoenix, Jacksonville, 

Earth s capitol, the new Byzantium, 

Kingdom of man who knows? Hollow or firm, 

No man can ever prophesy until 

Out of our death some undiscovered germ, 

Whole toleration or pure peace is born. 


The time to mourn is short that best becomes 
The military dead. We lift and fold the flag, 
Lay bare the coffin with its written tag, 
And march away. Behind, four others wait 
To lift the box, the heaviest of loads. 
The anaesthetic afternoon benumbs, 
Sickens our senses, forces back our talk. 

I 14] 


We know that others on tomorrow s roads 
Will fall, ourselves perhaps, the man beside, 
Over the world the threatened, all who walk : 
And could we mark the grave of him who died 
We would write this beneath his name and date: 


Underneath this wooden cross there lies 
A Christian killed in battle. You who read, 
Remember that this stranger died in pain; 
And passing here, if you can lift your eyes 
Upon a peace kept by the human creed, 
Know that one soldier has not died in vain. 

July 18, 1943, 

Somewhere South-west Pacific. 


A Warning Not to Dance 

On a day, 

A day, 

A day, 

On a distant summer day . . . 

Every lassock played her lad, 

Leg for leg, at "Heigh-go-mad" ; 

Even beldames, dipped in stum, 

Creakt for hope some fire might come. 

Fire came, and black-men, too, 
Clad in waving red and blue; 

Thrust each ancient paramour 

Head and shoulders thro the door 
Of Hell itself; where their feet, 

Bitten by a brimstone heat, 
May not rest, or pause agen, 
Dancing in the Devil s den. 




The following is from a letter written by Chris. Brennan on 
June 1 6, 1930, to his friend Richard Pennington (now Librarian of 
Queensland University). The extract is printed with the consent of 
Mr. Pennington and Mr. R. Innes Kay, Brennan s literary executor, 
to whom thanks are due. 

I have not written about my metrical innovations because there aren t any, 
only developments. But, as I know some people are troubled, I send you a brief- 
account of the matter to use at your pleasure. What is in question is the blank 
verse of The Wanderer . . . . 

There are two blank-verse measures. In numbers 86 (this by the way is 
the piece you are seeking), 96, 98," 99 the ordinary line of five stresses; in 87, 
91-95, 97 a line of six stresses. Another local critic, R. D. Fitzgerald, shrewdly 
guessed that this was a sort of Alexandrine : only he calls a caesura an hiatus. 
And tho , as a fact, I did get some provocation out of a controversy in the 
reviews over the possibility of a blank Alexandrine, I soon found I was writing 
nothing of the sort. The verse of five stresses is not an iambic pentameter and 
that of six is not an Alexandrine : the menagerie of English verse does not 
contain these outsiders. 

Stress is not accent. The two must coincide in the majority of cases, or 
there is no verse, but stress is primary. In the first line of Paradise Lost the 
fourth stress falls on "and". The second does not fall on the emphatic word 
"first" because, tho such mobility of the stress is one of the powers free to the 
poet, you do not begin with such a striking variation from your norm. To 
guide my reader s ear and save him perplexity, I have, almost everywhere, made 
stress and accent agree. Properly read aloud the measure ought not to worry 

I have used mobility of stress so as to bring two stresses together (as 
supposed in "Of man s /first dis-/") and the freedom of varying within the 
limits of the norm the number of syllables in the unstressed space. (They call 
this substituting anapaest for iamb and vice versa.) If the normal unit of your 
verse is . : you will very soon kill your reader if you don t admit . . : ( first dis-/ 
obe- / dience and : of course Milton didn t say disobeejence ), and the other 
way round . : for . . : ("When the hounds /of spring/ are on win/ter s 
traceCs]/"). All blank verse again permits of an extra unstressed space at the 
end : if I have for once filled that with two fugitive syllables that would have 
easily slipped past within the line ("and where / the hearth / sings merr-/ily") 
I have not gone outside my warrant : Comus 732 "The Sea o erfraught would 
swell and th unsought diamonds". 

I scan a few of the seemingly more licentious lines. 
Hither / &. thith / er upon / the earth / & grow / weary 

The woods /^shall awake /hearing^ them// shall awake / to be tost / and riven 
And the waves / of dark / ness yonder // in the gaunt / hollow / of night 
For un / til ye have / had care / of the wastes / there shall be / no truce 

(I mark a glide, but not an elision: that doesn t exist; doesn t itself is two 
syllables and Milton didn t pronounce thunsought.) Perhaps so much will do. 
I would not seem to try to justify myself out of a book which had nothing to do 



with my upbringing or with my verse-writing; but English ears might find a 

kindred measure in 

In Jew / ry is / God known // his Name / is great /in Is / rael 

At Sal / em is his tab / ernacle // and / his dwell / ing in Si / on 

There brake / he the arr / ows of the bow // the shield / the sword / & the batt / le. 

And there is William Blake. 


Our everlasting hunger for mortality 
Beguiles Our calm transmuted, self-decoyed ; 
Our phantom-flesh with feverish prodigality 
Reveals the world We ravish from the void. 

Death is the black delusion of the tomb, 
Our dread is Our remembrance ; undismayed, 
Unyielding, We, Who dare deride Our doom, 
We are the gods, the gods in masquerade. 

Our never-ending zest in Our carnality 
Would shirk no pang or torment, quick to master, 
By means mortiferous, each too harsh reality, 
Disease, despair, age, horror or disaster, 

We dare to suffer, dare to feel afraid 
We are the gods, the gods in masquerade ! 



Examinations of the trails 
From Skindewai to Latabia 
Convince pedestrians that nails 
And heavy boots for steering gear 

Are less than tactless. Mud is not 
The best ingredient for tea. 
Cold bully beef engenders hot 
Connivings at what used to be. 

Considered menus. Native boys 
In grubby lap-laps stop to grin, 
Not understanding what decoys 
Have spoiled in prospect venal sin. 

Rough corduroy is not as nice 
(Considered as a motor means) 
As ambulations on the ice 
No matter where the axis leans. 





It was the very first time Tony Hilton had worn his uniform. He 
felt rather pleased with the snatched reflections of himself he caught in 
the plate-glass of shop windows reflections that came and went, 
ghost-like, behind the superimposed realities of displayed goods, 
mostly feminine and ranging from corsets to cosmetics. He felt a 
little self-conscious too, and slightly ashamed of that self -conscious 
ness. The swagger that is the right attribute to a military uniform did 
not come naturally to Tony perhaps because he was a poet, or aspired 
to be one. No, that is unjust ! Tony was only reluctantly a poet. He 
admired the hearty type that achieves things by action, not thought 
chaps like Chris Stuart. He was a poet by some inner compulsion; 
and that he was not a successful one (that is, he had twice as many 
reject slips as published verses) was not the consolation it should have 
been. Even as a schoolboy, scribbling embryonic rhyme and blank 
verse, he had been haunted by a conviction that it would be more 
manly not to. Still, as has been said before, he couldn t help it; and 
every now and again he broke out and wrote copiously for a few days 
or weefcs till the fever subsided. 

He was wondering if the war and a military life would quench or 
kindle his spark when he saw Chris Stuart, and promptly dismissed 
speculations about verse from his mind. Chris was standing half-way 
down the steps at the entrance to the hotel, talking to Jim Arnall. 
Both Chris and Jim had been to the same school as Tony, not so long 
ago either, and certainly not so long ago as it seemed to them. 

Chris was in R.A.A.F. blue, Jim in khaki. They hailed him and 
all three went inside for a drink and a talk. 

"How s the poetry?" Chris asked, when a waiter had taken their 

Tony flushed. He was ridiculously sensitive about his verse, being 
a failure. 

"I ve given it up well, more or less !" 

"Impossible, you re like an inveterate drunkard ! A drunkard of 
the what s its name spring." 

Tony laughed. "Well, I sign the pledge, metaphorically speaking, 
every now and then !" 

"Someone", said Jim, speaking in his quick, staccato fashion, 
"someone ought to write an essay on the degeneration of the poet, or 
rather the status of the poet. It was all right at one time Sir Philip 
Sidney, and Chaucer, and Homer, and David. Guts and gusto and 



poetry in those days. What brought them down to long hair and 

"You write it !" Chris said. 

Tony was heard to murmur something about Rupert Brooke. That 
brought their conversation into another channel. 

"George Duncan s been killed", Jim said. "The last of three 
brothers to die. Rotten for the Duncans !" 

They spoke then of death and because the subject was a grim 
one they concealed it under a camouflage of light words. 

"I read a book once", Christopher said. "I can only give you the 
gist of it, as I m no good at remembering things properly and quotably. 
It was a book about Yogis, and there was something to the effect that 
a bloke s soul (they see it as a sort of sliver of light) has a 
definite time to live before passing to the next world, and that this has 
a kind of spiritual body. This stays on the earth for a while before 
going away, and how long it stays depends on well, if a bloke dies a 
sudden death while he s young it might have a fair time to hang about." 

"That makes quite a good explanation of ghosts", Tony said, 
"not that I believe in that hocus-pocus !" 

"Jimmy will concede that there s some truth in all faiths, won t 
you, Jim?" 

"Sort of curate s egg even Yogism, eh?" 

"Well, look here, Jim, you re the churchgoer of us three, isn t 
he, Tony? You say the Creed every Sunday. Do you really feel quite 
confident about oh, you know life everlasting?" 

Tony interrupted. 

"The resurrection of the body, that s what beats me worms 
and anyway what about hunchbacks ? Rough on them !" 

"It means a spiritual body, of course", Jim said. 

"That s done over to suit the modern palate; the compilers of the 
Creed meant the physical body rising up out of all the churchyards." 

Jim thought of alluding to St. Paul s symbol of the wheat grain, 
but refrained. It was a habit of his never to argue. 

"Proof", Tony said. 

"But what exactly would constitute irrefragable proof? Perhaps 
we wouldn t recognise a sign from heaven if we saw one!" Jim 

"Well, listen", Chris said, ignoring the question. "I vote we make 
a pact. We ll try and let each other know for sure anything we find 

"Wh a at ?" said Tony, who had been thinking of poetry again, 
and quoting softly, half to himself : 



And ah, to know not 

Whether tis ampler day divinelier lit 

Or homeless night without 

. . . New prospects, or fall sheer a blinded thing ! 

"Wh a at did you say?" 

"You mean", Jim said, "if one of us gets knocked we ll try to get 
through to the others!" 

"Yes if there s anything beyond: that s the gist of it. We re 
pretty representative, Tony and you, Jim, and me the emotions, the 
intellect, and well the plain physical heart, head and hand." 

"But if we don t succeed", Tony, asked, "are you prepared to take 
that as conclusive?" 

But Chris had warmed to his subject. "We ve got to try and 
tune in to each other s wave-lengths, see!" 

Jim s thoughts strayed down a private bypath : 

Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds 

From the hid battlements of Eternity ; 

Those v shaken mists a space unsettle, then 

Round the half-glimpsed turrets slowly wash again. 

(Tony wasn t the only one who read poetry.) 

Jim drained his glass and pulled in his attention. 

Tony was speaking. 

"All that unknown potentiality of radio in the world, and only just 
discovered ! There may be other untapped, unsuspected powers 

Chris looked at his watch. " Fraid I ll have to go", he said, "but 
have we agreed? Shake hands on it and swear a silent oath to do your 
best. Here !" He beckoned a waiter. "We ll wet the contract !" 

They stood then and solemnly and in silence and to the surprise 
of people at the next table, they shook hands. When the drinks came 
they permitted themselves to be particularly hilarious. 

A few minutes later they said good-bye in Castlereagh Street. 

"Don t forget, now!" Chris said. "Oh, and we d better appoint 
Tony our amanuensis, just in case!" 

They saluted with mock ceremony, and went their several ways. 

There was no hope left now, really none; and you realised how 
much a man had lived on hope all these dreadful nightmarish days 
and nights; and through the recurring horror of the roadblocks. It 
was only a matter of time now. Well he was thankful he wouldn t be 
a prisoner. Those chaps they had to leave in the trucks! The last 
bitter dregs of disappointment when they found Japs had the Parit 
Sulong bridge ! 



Jim Arnall lay listening to the jungle sounds. They hadn t come 
yet. It seemed ages since he had heard the crashing of the men s 
feet and their voices going away. They were going to make a last 
desperate try to get through. God ! if they only could ! He had thought 
he was good enough but he wasn t. That last shot got him in the 

Time blurred. There were so many sounds ; little noises he had 
not noticed before. Rain fell some time during the night, beating 
mercilessly; drumming on the leaves that, after the storm had passed, 
went on drip, dripping with the exasperating reiteration of a leaking 

Incidents of the last few days turned and turned in his mind. He 
must think of something else. Then all at once he recollected the 
pact he and Tony and Chris Stuart had made it seemed a hundred 
years ago. Well, he d soon know for certain what was ahead. 

He tried to say the Creed, but it seemed nothing but words. His 
mind had no function but to feel like an animal . . . The Father 
Almighty . . . All things visible and invisible . . . God of Gods, 
light of lights. What selection of words, that made them not only 
exactly right, but endowed them with a thaumaturgic quality so that 
they were the switch button that lit something inside you. They took 
a power to themselves that was not abstract or etymological, but started 
a current like electricity. (The originators of the fairy tales knew 
the secret of a word s magic.) 

Tony had wanted proofs "The Jews require a sign, and the 
Greeks seek after wisdom". And as always the Greeks were right ! 

Christopher Stuart s bed was at the very end of the long ward, 
near the door. Most of the other men seemed to be asleep, except a 
badly wounded airman who kept turning his head on the pillow. Chris 
cursed the luck that had put him into hospital for a trifle like a tonsils 
operation. Positively childish ! After all these months of flying and no 
accident it was beginning to look as though he had a charmed life. His 
thoughts were with his squadron. Moonlight flowed into the ward 
and made a pattern of squares and crosses on the floor. Bomber s 
moon! It brought memories to Chris. They d be out tonight most 
likely. Two more days and he would be back and into it again. 

He thought of night flights Jie had made with the sleeping unlit 
towns far down below, and the world washed in moonlight ; unsophisti 
cated, elemental as in some remote dawn beautiful and vulnerable. 
And moonless nights, dark as the womb of time; and nothing in 



existence but the plane s cockpit and the vitality of the glowing dials 
in front of him. 

Because he did not want to think about these things he switched 
on the radio beside his bed and adjusted the earphones. 

The B.B.C. was just finishing the news. Sounded pretty bad ! 
They were falling back in Malaya. What was the matter there? Well, 
Singapore could hold out from all accounts, but it sounded pretty bad. 
Jim was there. He d been growling about inaction being out of 
things in the last letter Chris had had from him. .Tony Hilton was 
there too ! He turned off the radio. 

The door, close to his bed, was open. Across the passageway 
beyond was a large window, through which the winter branches of a 
tree made pencillings on the moonlight. Chris saw that someone was 
standing there under the window. He had not heard anyone walking 
down the passage, only when he looked up the figure was there, blotting 
out the shadow-tracery of the boughs. It was a man in khaki shorts 
and shirt with sleeves rolled above the elbows. He moved across the 
doorway and turned his head to look directly at Chris. Then with a 
quick smile, and that characteristic sideways lift of the head, he was 

Christopher struggled out of bed. "]im I old chap ! I say, Jim !" 
he shouted. 

There was no sound but his voice. Chris drew a deep breath and 
sat back on his bed. His shout had wakened every sleeper, but that 
didn t matter because just at that moment the sirens sounded. 

Next morning the B.B.C. announced that a few enemy raiders had 
appeared over a south-west town. Some bombs were dropped. There 
were casualties and among the buildings damaged was a hospital. 

A later report listed the name Stuart, Christopher John, among a 
number killed in an air raid. 


Tony Hilton spat out a mouthful of berries and cursed. They had 
looked edible. Sour ! They say you get over feeling hungry. He 
wondered how long it took to reach that stage. Morris had warned 
them that if they lay hidden by day they had a chance of getting to the 
beach by night. The Japs were everywhere, but once they got to a 
beach there was a possibility of finding a boat. It was worth the effort 
of trying. God ! it was an awful country. Nature had been left 
too free a hand here, and overdone it run amok with vegetation for 
one thing. After this, if there were any after, all he wanted was 
pavements, streets, made roads, civilisation. Then he suddenly remem- 



bered an hotel lounge and three men drinking iced beer at a small 
round table under a large window ; and one of them was himself a 
thousand years and a million miles away in a life perhaps on another 

"For the love of Mike get a bit o sleep. It s all you ve got to 
keep yer strength up!" 

Morris was a good chap, and he had almost a sixth sense of 
direction that stood them in great stead, fugitives in the jungle. 

Somehow or other Tony managed to sleep, despite the rain-soaked 
ground and the crawling things, despite discomfort and anxiety and 
hunger. They were physically exhausted, and they slept ; though 
warily, like animals. 

Tony dreamed. He dreamed that he was sitting with Jim and 
Chris again and they were playing cards. A Red Cross hospital 
bedspread was on the table between them. Tony had an insistent 
feeling that it was tremendously important to win the game. Then 
he looked at his hand and saw with a shock that the cards had strange 
markings instead of the familiar suits, and he felt that he must warn 
the others before they started to play, because of course none of them 
knew the value of these cards. But Jim was saying quite quietly : 

"Perhaps we wouldn t recognise a sign from heaven if we saw 

Then Chris faded, as people do in dreams. Jim was still there, 
very close to him, bending over him. There was no table and he was 
lying down and Jim s face almost touched his and his eyes held Tony s. 
He seemed to be on the point of speaking, and then he only smiled, 
and Tony woke. 

So vivid was the dream that he seemed for a second or tw to be 
still in it. He w r as aware of a sensation of someone s presence like 
Jim in the dream, very close to him. He was in a strange heightened 
mood, which may or may -not have been due to the comparative fast 
he had endured lately. He felt keyed up to a new pitch, in a mood of 
calm exhilaration, lifting him temporarily out of the physical plane of 
his sufferings. He was also aware of two certainties. One of them 
was that Jim Arnall was dead. 

He rooted in his pocket and produced a small notebook; groped 
with two fingers, brought -out of his shirt pocket the stump of a pencil. 
Then hunched up, with mud squelching through rotten vegetation 
round him, he started to write. Abruptly dark came up over the 
jungle. Darkness would bring back the nightmare journey struggling 
and floundering for footholds one could only guess at. Scratched and 



torn by vines, and always the swamps, and little food, and the gnawing 
uncertainty. Meanwhile he wrote. 


Colonel Blackie was like many of his profession, a scholar and a 
reader as well as a soldier. The night before, he and Major Milburn 
had been talking about poetry. 

"There s a quality, don t you think, about the finest poetry, like 
music sometimes in no more than a line or two, (You know what I 
mean, Milburn?) Unmistakable! Something picked up from outside 
our dimension ! Planetary music Shelley called it !" 

It was Peters who handed him the little battered notebook. It was 
one of those that are annually given away by a manufacturing firm. 
Besides blank pages for notes they have all kinds of information 
printed from postal charges and public holidays to designs .for wool 
sheds and sheepdips. The unprinted pages of this one had been 
covered with a closely written but legible handwriting, though the 
pencil was faint in places. The red cloth cover had been blistered and 
bleached by water and perhaps sweat. 

The Colonel glanced casually over the first pages. Then: 

"Where did you say got this ?" 

"Captain Webb, sir, thought you d like to see it. Said it looked to 
be in your line. He got it from a cove who got away from Malaya in 
a boat of sorts, and was picked up. Wasn t his a mate gave it to him. 
Chap who got wounded, on the beach, I think it was. Anyway before 
he died he asked his mate to take charge o that." 

The Colonel turned a page and read some more, slowly. He had 
apparently forgotten Peters s existence. He was thinking of his 
conversation with the Major. 

"Anthony Hilton !" he read the name from the front page. 
"Anthony Hilton." 

"Never heard of him !" said Peters, feeling that some remark was 
required of him. 

"No, maybe", said the Colonel, "but you will ! But perhaps not ! 
Perhaps, Peters, you have never heard of John Keats and "The Grecian 
Urn", or Francis Thompson and "The Hound of Heaven". Perhaps 
not, Peters ! But Anthony Hilton will be heard of mark my words ! 
It s . . . it s . . . damn it all, I can t remember the words I want 
A trumpet, from the something battlements of Eternity! That s all, 

Peters. I ll see to this!" 


The hotel lounge was crowded. Three young soldiers, new to 
their uniforms, came in. 



"That table under the window", one of them said to the head 
waiter, who was trying to find them seats. "What about it"? Doesn t 
appear to be reserved." 

The head waiter positively started. 

"Why, yes, sir, to be sure ! Only, funny thing, I coulder sworn 
that table was taken ! As I came across the room, I d swear I saw 
three chaps there certainly ! Your orders, sir !" 

, "Rum, all right !" he said to Burrell, one of the other waiters, a 
few minutes later. "I saw three chaps standing at that table shaking 
hands, and the next moment they just wasn t there at all!" 

"Time you took a holiday, George !" Burrell said, "startin seeing 
things !" 


Shocked by the naked footprint in the sand 
His heart thumps in a panic; he looks away 
Beyond the curve of the last spur of the land, 
Searches the reef where combers boom and spray ; 

And shouldering his gun, his English dog- 
Running beside, returns to his clean cave, 
The precious cask of tools, the written log, 
The parrot, his rocker on its barrel stave. 


He says a prayer. The years of silence hear. 
He shall be answered with a man. To learn, 
To laugh, to teach, to feel a presence near, 
Share his beloved resourcefulness and return. 

For he has outwitted nature and shipwreck; 
Some day the tapering mast will fill the west, 
The castaway once more upon the deck 
Gaze at two worlds, and set sail for the best. 

Gladly he gives this isle to all mankind 
To tread the hills and shores with countless feet. 
Henceforth t the globe itself swims in his mind, 
The last unknown and insular retreat. 

June S, 1943, 
New Guinea. 



The account following is taken, by kind permission of his son, 
Mr. Hugh McCrae, from the late George Gordon McCrae s manuscript 
reminiscences. Part of its substance, only, was known to Mr. Hugh 
McCrae when, in 1935, he published My Father, and My Father s 

Adam Lindsay Gordon, take him all round, might have passed f for 
a silent man, one who would prove his friendship by coming to sit 
beside another for the better part of an hour without uttering a word ; 
the society finding its expression in a cloud of mingled tobacco-smoke. 
I never heard him sing nor have I met anyone who had ; nor do I 
believe he danced, at all events not after his arrival in Victoria. 

It would have been reckoned a stroke of rare good fortune to have 
received a letter from Gordon, for he seldom put pen to paper in the 
way of correspondence if it could possibly be avoided. 

A man that wanted a lot of knowing, but the knowledge once 
acquired (there never was any ice to be broken), he became a delightful 
companion; breaking clean away from his ordinary habit, he would 
talk, though at first chiefly in undertone, of the books . . . poems, 
poets and romances that he most admired ; of horses, hunting, cavalry- 
charges and duels. Here, his steely-grey eyes flashing with enthusiasm, 
he would exclaim aloud. There was no manner of affectation about 
hirn, whether in dress or otherwise : he was distinguished in no way 
from the ordinary run of men. He reached to about the medium 
height; thin, but well-knit, and with just that outward curving of the 
lower limbs which mafks the horseman. He walked alertly but with 
a slight stoop and a forward inclination of the head. He was short 
sighted to a degree as anyone would at once discover if he came across 
him reading a book or paper. Yet for so long as I knew him he never 
used either spectacles or eye-glass. 

One day, asking him how he took all those fences and ditches, he 
replied : "I know my horse, to begin with, but though I cannot see 
farther than his ears, and then only as though through water, I 
generally get over all right." We agreed in a perfectly friendly way 
to differ as to the risk. He wore habitually a dark "wide-awake" hat 
and with it a square-tailed black velvet jacket or rather coat, cords 
and generally had spurs on his boots. I have never yet seen a satis 
factory portrait of Gordon. Those brought across from South Aus 
tralia, besides being poor as photographs, invariably showed a self- 
conscious clean-shaved person without any distinguishing character. 



If he ever had any taken in Melbourne or Ballarat I never saw them, 
but our Gordon here was a man with a full russet beard and 
moustache, with thick overhanging eyebrows and to whom the Adelaide 
pictures presented but a shade of likeness. For so young a man his 
forehead had some show of wrinkles and the corners of his eyes each 
a crowfoot with its indication of humour. He had made some very 
rough experiences in his time in falls from horses besides in other 
ways. It used to be remarked of him from time to time his avoidance 
of liquor; which, in the midst of all-round drinking society, had the 
effect of keeping him very much outside. He would take a glass of 
wine out of pure politeness, but there he drew the line, over which 
nobody could lead him. One day, rallying him on his abstemiousness, 
he took my hand and, placing it on his head, laid one of my fingers in 
a long deep hollow in the bone I shuddered all over. It was the 
answer to the question a skull fracture received in one of his falls 
in the field. 

He sat his horse admirably; rode "long", toes down, and feet 
well home in the stirrups, yet I never heard of him being "dragged". 
In taking a leap it was his habit to throw himself back until his head 
touched, or nearly touched, the crupper, and recover position as he got 
over. It would have seemed to us though, as well as to himself, 
perfectly absurd to picture the long-limbed Gordon doubling himself 
up over the horse s wither in the squatting-frog posture of the "Tod"- 
seat of today. 

I do not believe that he cared for much company, but, like Kendall, 
preferring the strict tete-a-tete. To know the real Gordon one should 
have had him all to himself, then just behind two pipes and marching 
along under the stars. Like several others,- he was many-sided. Three 
sides I. seem to have taken in: the Poetic side, the Sport side and the 
side that reflected his warm friendships ; the remaining, and I feel sure 
equally creditable, sides may be left to others to dilate upon. A more 
conscientious or honourable man it were hard to meet. 

He was remarkably reticent as to his past or his family-affairs, 
but to me as an intimate he brought (and that shortly before the end) 
a bundle of parchments and papers relative to the Esselmont Estate 
in Scotland to which he was the reputed heir. So far as the legal 
verbiage was understandable by a layman, I made out that Gordon was 
a man much to be congratulated . . . but there arrived yet further 
papers, and a question of entail having cropped up, the lawyers gave 
the case against him and thus by the irony of Fate, Gordon was out of 
his inheritance altogether. . . .* 

* Nothing is omitted. EDITOR. 



After the death, I had written to Kendall from the "Yorick" [Club] 
inviting him to join us there before the funeral. In his very short 
note of reply he said : "I would, but that I am copperless." This the 
ostensible excuse, but the fact was that he was too severely shaken to 
be able to attend. I am perhaps one of the very few surviving who 
followed Gordon to the grave one pleasant feature no heavy clods 
only the purest of white sand. 

His rote-memory was remarkable. One day he asked me to come 
down to Massina s (the publishers). We went arm-in-arm and waited 
while the proofs of "Britomarte" wej-e got ready. After our return 
to the "Yorick", where we found an empty room, Gordon handed the 
proofs to me and I read following him on the printed paper as he 
marched up and down the room reciting as he went. He got through 
it all without a halt or error anywhere. It was characteristic of 
Gordon that he intoned or rather crooned the work ; it was in no way 
like the ordinary recitation. When he quoted poetry (as he not 
infrequently did) it was all intonation and not his usual speaking voice. 



Under the shadows 

dark waters rushing, 

under the willows 

a drowned eddy 

and the far wandering foam. 

Be now, 

in these shadowed waters, 

as storm light falling 

on fallen blossoms, 

fallen and floating 

on urgent paths alone. 


T^ie unshaken branch shall bud 
with blooms that are still and still, 
over the circling silver flood 
on the far side of the hill ; 
where, unreturning, lie 
waters that shall receive 
light from beyond the sky, 
shade that is not of eve. 





Now woman, if you have it in you to live, 
this is your living body s prerogative. 
You could not by yourself deliberate 
what only my impatience could create 
and I can do no more. This guess of mine, 
all my invention, my superb design, 
my courage, my challenge, my security 
I built you out of nothing : now build for me. 
With your divine intelligence possess 
my work; I did not spend myself for less. 
I want your suffering: the intense and bare 
strain of your will. I want to see you dare 
this difficult thing, to walk with agony on 
the knives of my imagination, one 
I scarcely know when even in your hands 
least moving something perfectly understands 
all I created you to feel and be. 
So I receive you, so you come to me 
and as to this complete accord we move, 
the imbecility of commencing love 
repulsed, and the grey nauseas of fear,, 
the body of my redeemer enters here. 
And in myself this man I have willed to know 
wakes at long last: Although I planned it so 
I did not know I had so much to bring, 
so much I could not give and dared not lend 
into these hands my spirit I commend . . . 
O take it, for it is a precious thing. 


They have dared the improbable dream ; they have made it theirs ; 
the nightmare house of shadows and wavering airs 
enlarged and curtained ; stuffed the window tight 
with a blank shutter of its outward night ; 
proportioned so the vast and stately bed 
blessed with the pillar of darkness at the head; 
tied the four posts with unseen dying flowers 
over its tall black cliff the music pours 
nightlong and plunges smoothly to the deep 
and touching with their naked breasts asleep 
they lie and have forgotten what joy it is : 
that first impulsive charity of a kiss. 
Deep flows the stream they do not hear it pass. 
They do not know if near them stirs what was 
the once beloved gesture, familiar pain. 
They cannot wake back to those selves again, 
by any intellectual vision learn 
what precious thing frets in the weeping urn 
of their content. And though the landscape still 



guards the assenting accent of their hill 

they will not look to see if it be there 

arrested yet against voluptuous air. 

They have walked on, away, and out of mind 

over the world s end what they ached to find 

abandoned the hollow mountain ate them up. 

No use to shout far down the spiral cup 

of the void ear : these bodies have taken over. 

Look here for love you will not find the lover . . . 

Only a moment, it may be, they toss, 

Smile, and so touch the treasure of their loss. 


So I perceive this last astonishment 
in you: that even the indifferent 
and things outlived and lost and left behind 
do not remain unchanged within the mind, 
but have their own life still, and that you grow 
daily in me, whether I will or no. 
Now even at night and lying long awake 
descending step by step the stairs that take 
me down the dark the grey enormous stair 
I cannot summon you as once you were : 
You come with a new movement; the surprise 
of unaccustomed hands, reluctant eyes, 
menstrual, remote. 

Unsummoned, you are still 
there : a cancer ripening in the will 
pushing its intricate trespass furtively 
in the soft belly fibre. Now I see 
the horror of Love, the sprouting cannibal plant 
that it becomes O God ! What do you want ? 
What do you want? Do you know where you are? 
This my room, my mind : Get out of here ! 

Take your damned clothes, your two-sex thoughts, your laugh ! 
Back to the simper on the photograph 
that was your smile, and is your smile no more. 
T have gone into my silence, closed a door 
Upon the comfort of its emptiness. 
Why do you trouble it then? And should you guess 
the magic syllables, I have made it bare. 
What do you hope? Even though I am there, 
do you expect your body again with me 
to utter in its guttural majesty 

the accent of life? . . . Or would you dare to build 
a garden suburb of kindness where we piled 
our terrible sexual landscape, heap on heap 
of raging mountains? No more! I know too well 
my need of loss, how easily we keep 
the vision that once could make the heart rebel 
changed to a song that gives the children sleep. 

A. D. HOPE. 




It is not often that manuscripts in the holograph of Charles 
Harpur come to light. Particular interest, therefore, attaches to a 
copy of his The Bushrangers, A Play In Five Acts, and Other 
Poems [Sydney: Published by W. R. Piddington, George Street. 
MDCCCLIII], which is inscribed in the author s own handwriting: 

The Rev. John Dunmore Lang. 

Presented in testimony of the Author s profound admiration for his 
character and public career, and of his gratitude for the great and 
manifold services he has rendered to his country, 

with the following Sonnet : 

Little perhaps thou valuest verse of mine 

Little hast read of aught my hand hath wrought, 
Yet I with thy brave memory would entwine 

Immortal amaranth. For thou well hast fought 

For Freedom ; well her sacred lesson taught ; 
Well baffled Wrong; well delved with far design 
Into those elements where Truth s treasures shine 

Richlier than those wherewith our hills are fraught. 
And when thy glorious grey head shall make 

One spot all-hallowed for the coming days, 
Tombed in the Golden Land for whose sole sake 

With labour thou hast furrowed all thy ways, 

Well a young Nation shall thy worth appraise 
Through the great grief that from its heart shall break. 


December, 1853. 


Plasmodia in sympathy 

With watered sunlight breeding heat 

(Exponents of the mystery 

That staggers beerless heads and feet) 

Decline to mate in human blood 
But rather spend their sporting days 
On wings beyond the tossing flood 
Of sweat and fevered eyes hot haze. 

Men do not need oases there 
Or heed distempered sticky shade, 
For water is their very air 
Where even desert is dismayed. 




"Is it kind to have made me a grave so rough?" 

He disappeared down the hollow of the tree. His neck broken in 
two places. 

No noise. No blood. 

And now, Dawson, having shovelled about eight pounds of dirt 
on top of his head, banged the spade (erstwhile tool-box) empty, and 
returned to the car. 

Together, we pushed the beastly thing on to the road. 

Then got in. 

Dawson settled to his place at the wheel, while I found room in 
the back, among suitcases, manuscripts, and books ; as much as the car 
could hold. Once, his: now, ours. We, the self-appointed heirs, and 

A horrid day outside. Black and wet. Clouds grafted into the 
sky, with that look of foreverness recorded by artists of the ante 
diluvian "wooden-cut" school. 

A difficult hour to paint. 

I rubbed the window-glass with a glove to see better ; but it 
stayed smudged : so, in the end, I said "Go to the devil !", and waited 
for Dawson to start. Dawson didn t. Instead, he dismounted, and 
opening my door, took away both money-bags and stowed them in 

Then; I realised how much safer I was in the back : safer, for 
instance, than if I occupied the driver s seat with Dawson behind. 

(You must know I was born timid: a congenital misfortune, 
which I try to hide.) 

Now again, after a skid of, perhaps, two hundred yards, Dawson 
pressed down the brakes ; and, with a wave of his hand, seemed to lasso 
me from the car. 

Without words, he walked beside me beyond sight of our stopping- 
place, until at last we came upon a tree, broken off about six feet up. 

Dawson said : "This paddock is thick with them." "S elp me God, 
it is !" After a pause, he added : "Do a man good to be buried here. 
Plenty of fresh air, and flowers, and birds, and all that sort of 

"Quite ! Quite !" I agreed. - 

He asked me ... ordered me ... to sit down. Sat down, 
himself, too, on the hard grass. 



"About this stuff of ours?" he continued. "The quids are all 
mine. That s agreed upon." 
, "Yu yes." 

"Oh! I m the mug, am I? You d double-cross ME; would you?" 

"I merely want the manuscripts" then, in case he mightn t under 
stand "the papers." 

I was so frightened, it became hard for me to breathe. 

"Oh, yeah! . . . Only want the papers! . . . Me, with 
thousands of smackers in the bag ... THOUSANDS ! . . . And 
you only want the papers ? . . . 

"Well ; take the papers ! . . . And, by Gee ! Take-your-hands- 
out-of-your-pockets-too ! ! Quick-and-lively ! Else, I ll do you in ! ! !" 

But I had the drop on him ; and he fell across my knees so peace 
fully that I knew he wasn t playing dog-o. 

I got up, and examined the tree. 

A sheath, strong as iron, encircled Mr. Dawson s funeral-hollow ; 
and there were broken warts outside that made steps high enough to 
enable me to see in ... to estimate how deep and roomy it was ; how 
velveted within. 

Tree-dust, I had gathered at the top, ran like lava from my hand, 
and, while it moved smoothly down the interior, I thought how 
voluptuously happy any tenant of that place could be. 

So I dumped him; and beautiful flocculi blew upwards, shaking 
the foliage of other trees. 

The only sound, a dull corrugated thud. 

Then, the old business, with the tool-box for a shovel "putting 
in the dirt". 

Henceforward, the car would be mine ; mine only, and all that 
therein was; the bagged-money, good clothes, boxes of cigars, four 
umbrellas, a case of Chambertin (eclipsing the wines of Bordeaux), 
and books, galore. 

Yet none of these compared for one moment with a certain manu 
script : a manuscript I shall name later on. 

I was so Happy that I went supperless to bed in the car: and 
slept soundly through the night : but woke with a concealed start when 
a policeman put his hand in at the window and told me to get up. 

Pretending to snore, I parted my eyelids just enough to separate 
the lashes: saw his face (a handsome one) and let fly. 

He was quite dead when I laid him on the floor of the bus ; and 
his long legs kept the door open while I drove along in search of some 
suitable tree. 

c 1 33] 


At last, I found the ideal thing: a stump, taller than the others, 
with branches that touched the ground, making ascent easy to its top. 

Yet I bungled the job, and the constable went to the bottom 
upside down. 

Afterwards, I saw many more hollow trees; but, not having 
anybody to put into them, pressed my foot against the accelerator and 
kept it there until I reached this pub. 

Well, here I am, still, at this pub; and let me tell you, in con 
fidence, that those three galoots in the billiard-room have warrants for 
my arrest. They ve already seized the car, and the cash, and the 
Chambertin, and the four umbrellas: BUT . . . come closer, in case 
they overhear . . . they shall never, never, lay hands on the manu 
script: the most interesting, the most enchanting, the most rare, and 

. . . EASILY . . . 
the most valuable asset I ve got. 

If you want to know its name, walk round here in the shadow 
of the bed. And I haven t any gat so you needn t be afraid. 

Well; that was his story. 

With a map of the district to guide me, I spent the whole of 
yesterday afternoon at Pinkabilly scrub, checking-up from Fat George s 
horse-paddock to the ford at Brandy Creek : and actually found the 
title-page of the manuscript. 

All that was left. 

The rest had been destroyed by grass-fires. Big packages, black 
and smoking; with gold edges on the side nearest the wind. 

The title-page, almost marginless, had become round, instead of 
square ; and looked like charred pancake in my hand. Nevertheless, it 
still retained goosequill scribendum . . . eighteenth century style. 

While I was verifying it, a frightened hare bumped against my 
leg. Consequently, I dropped the page, which fell down a crevice-hole ; 
and, when I stooped to recover it, was myself bitten by a flame death- 
torch to 

The Life of James Boswell, Esquire, 
By Samuel Johnson, LL.D. 



Murkal now stiffens: wamba seems the moon 
with ho-too-worries guttering his face 
hounded by Wibbi who, with eldrich moan, 
gibbers and stutters through the landscape lone, 
a woor and moora-moora haunted place 
where wan moongarrahs crowd Oongwalla s noon. 

Now is the time when doowees gather form 
and wreathe wilpina-wise from out the brain, v 

mazing the sleeper with waerawi grim .{: 

of Murriang s glamour and the Wurk Kerim 
where Dooloomai makes warrhul o er the plain, 
dread voice of Byamee from out the storm. 

Now is the time Boolooral frights the airs 
with strigil scream where wait-jurks lurk and cower: 
and Wa-wa writhes and slobbers in his pool 
and werbas kwark within the goolagool, 
while gurly-gurlies shun the kootchie s glower 
and mura-muras whimper in their lairs. 

The curlew catapults from dreadful dreams 
to tumble in the tumult of the night : 

Weeloo! he wails; Weeloo! and yet again, 
startling the goomblegubbons on the plain, 
hailing the mad star, Wamba s lurid light 
whose wild chaotic essence earthward streams. 

This verse seeks to illustrate the suggestive value of Native Australian 
words in English verse. The vocabulary is from J. Devaney s The Vanished 
Tribes : 

Murkal: darkness. 

Wamba: mad; the red planet. 

Ho-too-worries: clouds. 

Wibbi : the wind. 

Woor : demon. 

Moora-moora : demon. 

Moongarrah: ghost. 

Oongwalla: night. 

Doowee: dream- self which leaves the sleeping body to wander in the night. 

Wilpina : smoke. 

Waerawi : dream. 

Murriang : the place where the ocean ends, the next world. 

Wurk Kerim : the Dark Place, Death. 

Dooloomai: thunder. 

Warrhul : echo. : , 

Byamee : the Great Spirit. 

Boolooral: owl. 

Wait-jurk : murderer. 

Wa-iva: Water Demon. 



Wcrba: frog. 

Goolagool: water-holding hollow tree. 

Gurly-gurly : shadow, ghost. 

Kootchie : demon. 

Mura-mura : primitive beings, almost human. 

Weeloo : curlew. 

Goomblegubbons : bustards, turkeys. 



Stolidly waiting for my wonted train, 
while the day. brooded sullenly towards its close 
and the hush grew so intense that it could be felt 
above the preposterous clamour of wheel on rail, 
I looked across to a troop train slowly filling 
with the young lads, the gay lads, now stolid as I, 
stolid as cattle, crushed by the weight of youth, 
weight of farewell, weight of the burdened air. 

And I saw troop trains also in Tokio, 

troop trains in Moscow, London or Berlin, 

New York and Montreal, Cape Town or Rome, 

all of them slowly, inexorably filling 

with the young lads, the brave lads ; and suddenly, suddenly 

as at a thing become intolerable 

the tempest crashed like doom across the sky 

and crashed too in rebellion through the flesh 

till jagged lightning matched with ragged nerves 

and little fellow heart within the breast 

drummed out his puny thunder, echoing 

the heavens reverberation, and the eyes 

mirrored in tears the torrents of the rain. 

And oh, the whole being cried: here is relief, 
because for a span the grey wall of the rain 
cut off the world and all reality. 
Almost the tortured mind believed that here 
with this vast cleansing, sanity would return 
and we might wake as from an evil dream. 

But the storm passed, and there was the troop train still. 
27/10/43. KATHLEEN McKAY. 



Stephen came down the street looking for the numbers of the 
houses. He was sweating a little; it had been the devil s own job to 
find the place. At the bottom, where there was^a brick kiln, two women 
were talking over their side fence. He went down to them and spoke 
to one of them. 

"Which house is number forty- four?" he asked. 

The woman, although she had been watching him as he came 
down the street, was taken unawares. "Number forty-four?" she said. 
"Er, why, that s Mrs. Herriot", and she pointed with two fingers to 
the woman whom she had been talking to. The other woman looked 
at him, came down her path, stopped, half smiled, took another step, 
and waited. 

Stephen fumbled with the gate. I ll wait till I get right up to her 
before I say anything, he thought. But as he went through the gate he 

"Mrs. Herriot, I recognise you from the photograph. I am Stephen 

"Yes?" she said. 

"I was with Dan at Darwin." 

"Yes", she said, her face lighting up with pleasure. "Oh yes, Dan 
has told me about you. Do come in." 

She pushed her body against the door to open it. "This door has 
been stuck for the past month ; it s the wet weather we ve been having. 

"Come in", she said. "You ll stay for lunch, won t you ?" 

"Well, no. I can only stay for a quarter of an hour. I have to be 
back in town at twelve o clock." And he looked back at the eyes that he 
knew so well, the green up-slanting eyes, expressive and penetrating. 

"Well, you will have a cup of tea, won t you, Howard?" 

"Yes, I d like that, thank you." 

"Please sit down", she said, and went to a drawer for a cloth. 

"Now you re the one who took the photos of Dan, aren t you?" 


"That was a lovely one taken with the revolver. I ve got it here 
somewhere ; I ve put it into a little frame I had." She produced it and 
showed it to him. "Now that is an excellent photo of Dan", she said. 
"His father would have loved that ; he was very keen on photography." 

He looked at the photograph that he had often looked at, and then 
at her, looked up into a face glowing with some strange emotion, into 
Dan s eyes staring at him from out of the head of this huge woman. 



"Do you live in Sydney?" she asked. 

"No, in Melbourne. I am here for part of my leave. I have a lot 
of friends in Sydney." 

"Oh yes? That s nice." 

"Excuse me", she said, and disappeared into the kitchen. Stephen 
looked around the room, at a vase of artificial flowers on the wireless, 
at lace curtains, and at a magnificent portrait of Dan as a corporal, 
on the piano. 

She returned with cups and saucers, which she sorted on a bridge 

"Did you have any difficulty in finding the place?" she asked. 

"It was all very confusing. It has taken me about an hour to get 

"What a shame", she said, looking down at him the way Dan did 
when he waited with Stephen for the ambulance to come that time 
when Stephen had gastro-enteritis during the manoeuvre. "It is such 
a long way out. Are you staying at a place in town?" 

"No, I have a sister at Cremorne Point." 

"That s nice. How long were you with Dan altogether?" 

"Eleven months." 

"You were there when it happened, weren t you?" 


But she knows that, he thought, I wrote to her about it. How her 
eyes searched his face ! As if they were trying to see through into his 

"Will you tell me about it when I ve made the tea?" 

Oh God, he thought, to tell her about it. . . And yet, that was 
what he had come for, to lead her grief into a definite channel, and to 
let her know why she mourned for her son. 

"Excuse me", s he said, "I think the kettle must be boiling." 

She returned carrying an enamelled teapot. "Do you take milk, 

"No milk, thank you." 

She poured the tea. 

"Mrs. Herriot, Howard is my surname." 

"How silly of me, I m so sorry." 

"It s all right, everybody gets them mixed." 

"Then er what s your first name?" 


"Yes, Stephen, I remember it now. Stephen Howard. I ve got it 
right now, haven t I ?" she said, smiling. 

She passed a plate to him. "I made these cakes yesterday; they re 
very nice." 



He took one. 

"You say you haven t much time", she said. "That is a pity." 

He knew what she meant, but he couldn t dive cold-bloodedly into 
the story. 

"Dan takes after you", he said. 

"Yes, everybody says that. He wasn t like his father a scrap. But 
I think that is customary, boys take after their mothers and girls take 
after their fathers, don t you think?" 

"I have never taken much notice of it." 

"It is a pity that you cannot stay longer", she said; "I could show 
you Dari as he grew up. I have got all his years well recorded." He 
didn t know what she meant. "My husband was a keen photographer 
while he was alive ; he was always taking photos of Dan. I still have 
his cameras and things. I was hoping some day Dan would take an 
interest in it. But he never took to it. You are interested in it, aren t 
you, Stephen? Dan told me all about the photos you used to take." 

"That s a fine photo of Dan on the piano." 

"Yes, it is", she agreed. "That was taken just before he went to 
Darwin ; he was nineteen then." As he looked at her he knew that she 
wasn t going to break down. She had Dan s spirit. But she stared at 
him so ! She was so hungry for news of her son buried up there. It is 
natural I suppose, he thought. 

Her son had lived there behind the face, his life through all those 
years was held there, recorded by her eyes and stored there in her 
mind. Years piled up on years, and as they slipped away behind Dan, 
so they gathered in her memory. His youthful years were never lost, 
because she had his life there, and all the twenty years of him were 
shining down from her now, and Dan from baby to soldier looked 
down at him. 

He began telling her the story. 

"It happened on a manoeuvre", he said. "It was arranged for 
Dan to go back to camp in the company ration truck because he had 
been up nearly all night working. So that I could go on the truck too 
I feigned pains in the stomach. As I had been stricken with gastro 
enteritis a few weeks earlier they believed me. 

"But we missed the truck. We were to wait for it at a certain 
turn in the track, but we didn t find it. It was dark, you see; the 
battalion moved off before dawn. When we got back to the place 
where we had camped during the night, to move with the marching 
personnel, we found that they had gone, the whole battalion had gone. 
So we conspired ; we said we wouldn t chase our company, but would 
go back leisurely on our own, cut off as much distance as we could, 
and rest when we wanted to. Which we did. 



"But we got a bit lost. We had made for a certain line of hills, 
which was deceptive, and we were following the wrong ridge. That 
is how we discovered the place. We went down into a gully, intending 
to get to a saddle in the ridge that we were familiar with, but when we 
got down to the bottom of the gully we found a running stream and 
one of the most beautiful pockets of scenery either of us had seen. 
Everything was so lovely there that we both got an overwhelming 
desire to follow the stream up. So we did, and after we had gone 
about a mile we found that we were entering a gorge, which became 
deeper and more magnificent the further we went. 

"We stopped there for lunch ; we built a fire by the stream and 
sat on a flat rock and ate. Usually we only carried bully beef and 
army biscuits, but this time we had brought with us a tin of apricots 
too. We boiled some water and made tea, and rested there and talked." 

How brightly her eyes shone as she looked at him ! She was 
seizing every word he spoke, she wanted him to go on, to tell it all. 
He went on with his story. 

"It is a strange thing, but Dan talked a lot about his childhood 
that day. I let him talk he usually was the one who did the talking 
and I the one who listened. He told me about early holidays he had 
had up the coast, about playing by himself all alone on the long wide 
beaches. It was lovely to listen to; he was almost lyrical. He told 
me about the dog he had called Pongo, who rambled over the country 
with him, about lizards he had watched and birds he had listened to. 

"He talked on for a long time, about all the places he loved so 
well, that I have never seen, but places that I loved because he did, 
places that I knew because he talked about them so often. But never 
in such retrospective delight as he did that day. Perhaps he knew, 
perhaps he knew that he would die that day." 

Her eyes became misty. She looked over his head and she became 
the woman who had watched Dan as a boy. 

I ll have to go, he thought, I ll have to leave her, I cannot bear it 
any more,, to be gazed upon as Dan has been, I cannot bear to think 
of being linked with Dan in this way. 

He frowned and rubbed 1 his knuckle between his eyes. 

"You haven t got a headache, have you, Stephen?" she asked. 

"No", he said, "it is all right." And he continued. 

"We were there for about an hour and a half, and then I suggested 
that we push on, to see how far we could go into the gorge. So we 
packed our haversacks, and went further into it, with the walls of it 
rising hard and grim over our heads. 

"I was following Dan, about twenty paces behind him. I heard him 



let out a cry, and then he said, Struth, look at this ! And I came 
round a boulder and saw what had made him let out that cry of 
delight. In front of us was the end of the gorge. From over the 
top of it came our stream in a sparkling trickle of silver water, into a 
pool on a ledge forty feet below, this overflowing with another waterfall 
dropping sixty feet into a rock-bound pool at our feet. 

"We watched the water for a few seconds, and then without 
saying a word we started taking off our clothes, and in a minute we 
dropped into the pool. It was the coolest water I had felt in all the 
time I was in the Territory, cooler even than the rain that we used to 
stand in when it was heavy enough. We swam about with slow strokes, 
and stood on a submerged rock directly under the waterfall, to feel it 
heavy on dur heads and shoulders. 

, "We dried in the sun and dressed, arid Dan suggested that we 
climb the face of the cliff to see the place from the top. I protested 
that it was dangerous, but he set off climbing the rock, and I followed. 
I followed because I couldn t bear to "be left behind. It was as 
dangerous as it looked, and I had a hard time keeping my nerve. 

"But not so Dan. He loved to climb, and all the time I was 
following him he kept jeering at me for my white face and trembling 
legs. But I followed him to the top, startling jewlizards, grabbing at 
clumps of grass, pulling myself over ledges and round rocks, following 
him upwards, cutting my knees and scraping my palms, grimly con 
centrating on the heels qf Dan s boots, looking up and not down, until 
I reached the top gasping and sweating, to have him grinning at me 
in good-natured derision. 

"I sat on the edge with him and looked down at the beauty of it 
all, the trees growing up towards us, the creek disappearing into the 
mass of them, the sound of water splashing into the pool we had 
swum in. ... 

"But then it happened then Dan wanted to climb down. I 
protested hotly, telling him it was stupid and risky; it is so much 
harder to climb down than to go up; I wanted us to make our way 
direct from there to the ridge that we. had set out for in the first place ; 
I told him I wouldn t climb down with him. But he jeered at me, and 
began descending. I watched him going, in fear for him and terror for 
myself, because I knew that I would have to follow. I didn t know 
what to do. And then, as I watched, he lost his grip, clutched 
frantically at the rock, yelled something at me, and fell. 

"I climbed down, I don t know how, but I got to the bottom. He 
was dead, of course. His back was broken.. I could do nothing for 



"Next day I led a party to the spot, and they carried him on a 
stretcher to the nearest track, and took him back in a truck. 
They ... we buried him in a little army cemetery, four rows of 
white crosses with a fence around them, under the shadow of 

He had told her. He couldn t look into her face again, her eyes 
sought too much. But he did look up. "That is how it happened", 
he said. 

Her eyes blazed with a fierce desperate flame. For an agonizing 
moment she looked at him. He looked back, and, shuddering, gazed 
into her gaze, look locked in look in the hot silence of the room, with 
neither breathing, he choking in it, with trembling hands and sweat on 
his face, as she stared and stared. 

"You don t believe me", he whispered. 

And her eyes swam in tears. 

"You know how it happened", he said. 

Tears brimmed over in her eyes. 

Ten minutes later he left ; he went up the street with the sun still 
shining,, the woman in the house next door sitting in it, bare-footed 
children playing in it. 

She had drawn the truth out of him, she who was the life of her 
son still. How could he tell her otherwise ? He had told her the truth, 
as much as he knew it, because what is truth? We cannot even tell it 
to ourselves when we want to. Truth and "lies are one, and flow 

But what he could believe was true he had told her, how he had 
watched Dan climbing down where he himself dared not go, how over 
come with envy, frustration or whatever it was, he had begun madly 
to hurl stones at the climbing figure, how when Dan looked up and 
yelled to him to cut it out, he had been possessed with greater madness 
to destroy the unattainable and so catch up and be Dan s equal. And 
he had told her how one of the rocks had hit Dan and how Dan had 
lost his grip, yelled abuse at him, and fallen. 

The great body of the woman that had breathed Dan into life and 
now breathed the echo of his life had shaken in great sobs. The eyes 
searched no longer, having found what they sought, and had closed in 
grief for her son. 

And he had left her. 

He came to the main road, and stood by the park kicking tufts of 
damp grass into a decaying slit-trench. He caught a tram, and gave 
twopence to the conductor. "Will this tram get to the city by twelve 
o clock ?" he said. 



1. On page 57, Jonson is said to have adjudged Donne, "for some things", 
"the first poet in the land". According to Drummond of Hawthornden, Jonson 
esteemed Donne "the first poet in the World in some things" which makes all 
but a world of difference. In the index there is no reference to this quotation. 
On the same page, other remarks of Jonson are reproduced carelessly. Pages 131 
and 139 show further misquotation or perversion of the Conversations with 

2. Pages 72-3: "Of the number of Donne s adventures [as a lover], or of 
the seriousness of their character, no proof at all exists, ..." A footnote 
subjoins: "Baker in his Chronicles of the Kings of England, 1732, p. 424, calls 
him a great visitor of ladies but expressly adds that his old acquaintance was 
not dissolute ." 

Sir Richard Baker published A Chronicle, etc., first in 1643. Among the 
men of learning in the reign of James I he commemorated "two of my own old 
acquaintance, the one was Mr. John Dunne, who leaving Oxford, lived at the 
Innes of Court, not dissolute [i.e. careless of his appearance], but very neat 
[i.e. well-dressed] ; a great Visiter of Ladies, a great frequenter of Playes, a 
great writer of conceited Verses . . ."t in short, a man about town and wit. 
The ladies Donne liked to visit were presumably titled personages such as the 
Countess of Bedford and the Countess of Huntingdon, who were his friends 
later. Miss Hardy should be soundly smacked for deliberate (if partly ignorant) 

3. Page 82, "Forthink" : this should be "Forethink". 

4. To her credit, Miss Hardy opens, on pages 172-3, an enquiry into a 
neglected subject, the literary relations between Donne and Shakespeare. Donne 
has been seen as the possible living original of Hamlet, but no one has fully 
examined the resemblances in idea and phrasing found in the two writers works. 
Miss Hardy well suggests that "Hamlet s creator and the author of The 
Progress [of the Soul} were probably closer to one another than has yet been 


I LOVED YOU . . . 

I loved you, and a trace of that love s passion 
Unquenched within my soul may yet remain ; 
But all I seek is not in any fashion 
To sadden you or bring you further pain. 
I loved in silence, hopelessly, but dearly, 
Now shyly, now with jealousy aflame; 
I loved you, O so fondly, so sincerely 
God grant to you another s love the same. 

(Translated from the Russian by R. H. Morrison.) 

* See Mr. Milgate s article in this number. 
t Third edition, 1660, page 450. 





Angry Penguins, September, 1943. Edited by Max Harris and John Reed. 
(Reed and Harris, Melbourne. 2s. 6d.) 

Angry Penguins is a modest publication. "Valuable", "valid" and "vital" are 
the adjectives it likes to apply to itself. Yet, in the September, 1943, number, one 
finds mainly heated disputings over stale issues, some echoes of what has been 
better done before and much that is pretentious, spurious or merely silly. 

The editorial advertises "the inclusion of a considerable amount of highly 
contentious art-political material" dealing with problems "vital to all artists". 
This, however, turns out to be only the old argument about whether artists 
should be political propagandists or not, and is occasioned by the apostasy of 
Albert Tucker. Mr. Tucker has fallen out with the Communist Party and in an 
essay "Art, Myth and Society", published in Angry Penguins, No. 4, accused his 
former brethren of wanting to dictate to the artist about his subject matter and 
method of treatment. Communism, he said, requires the artist to present a 
statement about political and social problems and to argue for the Marxist 
solution of these problems. There are two replies to Mr. Tucker s accusations 
in the September issue. One is by Noel Counihan, who, so the editors explain, 
virtually demanded that they publish his article "How Albert Tucker Misrepre 
sents Marxism". In this article, he claims to refute Mr. Tucker by the argument 
that the great Communists were vitally concerned with art, or rather, were 
vitally concerned that art should be realistic, realism meaning "the truthful 
reproduction of the principle that the emancipation of the working class ought to 
be the cause of the working class itself". In other words, as Mr. Tucker said, 
art is only art, or at any rate only great art when it is politics. The other 
criticism of Mr. Tucker s views is by Harry de Hartog, who in "Fascism in the 
Making" also confuses questions of art and politics. A clue to this writer s 
attitude to art is his opinion that it is only fair for Russian artists who have 
received free tuition from the state to be required, in payment, to glorify the 
Soviet Union. He simply does not raise the question of the artist s integrity and 
would criticise "Art for Art s sake" not as an artistic doctrine but as a theory 
having dangerous political implications. 

For theorising about art, there is an essay "Reintegration and the 
Apocalypse" by Ivor Francis. Very amusing is the picture Mr. Francis draws 
of himself as waiting helplessly for his cultural pap from overseas. He reveals 
that he has at last found in a movement called Apocalypticism the solution to a 
problem that has been worrying him, namely: how to make his surrealistic 
outpourings intelligible to himself. The trick lies in the use of the myth. It is 
of course the personal myth that is referred to and the outsider need not expect 
to understand it any better than he could the automatic pouring forth of the 
artist s subconscious, or ever to find out whether the artist s subconscious is 
worth mything about with. This -ism which Mr. Francis hails as something new 
is, in fact, just another withdrawal into an Ivory Tower. 

Art-criticism is represented by John Reed s "Introduction to John Perceval". 
You talk very impressively, Mr. Reed, and say almost nothing. When you 
describe Perceval s "Man" as grotesque, you are making a definite statement, 
with which, by the way, no one would disagree. But when you give it as your 
opinion that his "Child with Cat" shows "a developed power of concentrating 
and epitomising emotional and visual experience", one is not in a position to 



agree or disagree with you until you explain of what emotional and visual 
experience you consider this to be the epitome and concentrate. You record that 
all who have seen this picture have been immediately captivated by it. But 
supposing, merely for argument s sake, that someone does not experience this 
reaction, would your "Introduction" help him towards an appreciation of 
Perceval s art, when you omit to record also what are the qualities that all 
these previous spectators have found so captivating? One rather suspects that 
you do not know what it is all about yourself. 

Though the short stories in this issue of Angry Penguins contain some 
competent writing, they are not outstanding. Hal Porter s "And Nothing More" 
has a Melbourne setting and tells of love which begins in an odd inconsequential 
way and ends when shiftless penury introduces a jarring note into the lovers 
Bohemian paradise. It is in the form of an easy-flowing monologue, which, one 
feels, the author once having got the trick of it could sustain indefinitely, and is 
full of a wistful gaiety that is no novelty in tales of the "Do you remember?" 
type. Mr. Porter displays a flair for the exotic and, taking advantage of the 
scope afforded by the theme, packs his story with bizarre details and highly 
flavoured phrases. A contrast to the profuseness of Mr. Porter s work is 
provided by the sombre tone of Peter Cowan s "Living". In this story, Mr. 
Cowan depicts against the background of the monotony and hopeless grind of the 
small farmer s life the anguish of a pedestrian mind. Such a theme does not 
require subtlety in the handling. The chief means of building up the desired 
effect of dullness are the repetition of a few set phrases and the use of everyday 
idiom and brief, jerky sentences. Frank Kella way s "Stone Cross" is about the 
sufferings of a woman separated from her husband by the war. Tlfe C.O. s 
refusal to grant the man compassionate leave is taken as a symbol of the sins 
of the world, while the husband, deliberately embracing physical torture and 
finding comfort in it, is equated with Christ. Are not the incidents too paltry to 
load with this heavy significance? 

In the verse contributions the poetasters practise the old familiar tricks. 
There is the glib juxtaposition of the usual noun and the expected unexpected 
adjective : "ultimate horror", "sibilant illusions", "neutral groping". There is the 
deliberate mixing of the poetical and commonplace, the mingling of such lines as 
"Time has called smoke-o" and "Soon the lilac silences of sleep". There are 
the technical images, second-hand ("Time s seismograph") or coruscating 
("thaumaturgic geometry of fears"), the medical jargon ("thrombosis", 
"autopsies") and the erudite epithets ("solipsistic", "ichoric", "fugacious"). All 
these strike one as having been dragged in for their own sake and result in an 
inflated and self-conscious style. Consider this verse (from Clem Christesen s 
"Paul Pentecost and the Mocking Bird"), the first line of which is mere 
platitude : 

Time s seismograph now writes in blood, 

The spirit suffers a thrombosis ; 

But historical autopsies of the past 

Hold forth no promise of prognosis. 

In this poem, in which he sets down the night-thoughts of a soldier camped in a 
"eucalyptus-scented billabong", Mr. Christesen seems to be still lost in the 
Waste Land. The lines 

My mocking-bird fouls the window ledge, 

Leers obscenely through the leprous light 

Of dawn ; 

recall "The nightingale . . . cried . . . Jug. jug to dirty ears * and rashly 
invite the comparison of Mr. Christesen s verse with Eliot s poems. 



In "Love Song of the Bourgeoisie who got out of step with the march of 
time", Max Harris scoffs at the moral bankruptcy of the aristocracy and hands 
the middle classes a Dead Sea apple as a booby prize. Following Eliot s lead in 
using the nursery rhyme, Mr. Harris uses the ballad for ironic effect; and on 
the whole his lines of four stresses maintain their walloping rhythm. Some of 
them, however, such as "She liquidates love s Trotskyism with accents hard", 
refuse to jingle. As for "Cathartic", its piled-up imagery and highly compressed 
metaphors are out of all proportion to the slightness of the idea contained in 
the poem, that love may be purified by reviewing old sorrows. But this versifier 
is not distinguished for restraint in the use of decoration ; and it is nothing more 
than decoration. 

The two poems "The Moon s Your God, Cat" and "Opposum" [sic] by 
John Tallis are in the manner of D. H. Lawrence s Birds, Beasts and Flowers. 
Mr. Tallis tries, not unsuccessfully, to reproduce by means of free verse the 
fragmentariness and jerkiness of spontaneous utterance and talks to the cat and 
opossum as Lawrence apostrophises the mosquito. There is an attempt, not very 
well sustained, to get into the animal s mind, to describe its way of experiencing 
and the quality of its reactions to humans, but Mr. Tallis has nothing like 
Lawrence s power of conveying sensation. 

Alister Kershaw s "Denunciad" (does the author realise his title means epic 
of the denunces?) is an undergraduatish exercise in abuse, sometimes funny and 
most closely approaching its model in the obscenity of its images. Its heroic 
couplets march stiffly for the most part, but sometimes get out of step. One 
hopes it will remain unfinished. Geoffrey Button s "Nightflight and Sunrise" 
accepts fhe identification of darkness with the soul and imagines the nightflier 
to be, perhaps, the exploring intellect. His description of the earth spread 
out beneath the airman shows some keen observation, as in the phrase "creeks 
veined like a walnut". In "The Angel" Mr. Button renders into free verse the 
rhymed quatrains of Arthur Rimbaud s "Les Soeurs de Charite" ; he omits freely 
and paraphrases in places. The not unpleasantly sing-song metre of Elisabeth 
Lambert s "Poem" is reminiscent of the simple rhythms of some of de la Mare s 
verses. While Muir Holburn in "Poem" and Max Harris in "The Bird" lament 
somebody s spiritual death, Lola Van Gooch in her "Poem" tries not to grow 
sentimental over a kiss and in the trifle "The Clowns and the Birds Twittering" 
heaves a sigh of ennui. H. M. Swan s "Poem" is chiefly remarkable for its 
careless rhyming, Frank Kellaway s "The Single Mind" for its erratic use of 
words, and Frank Bavies s "Waiting Lover" for the fact that it is printed as 
verse at all. Mr. Harris has also thought it worth while to publish, besides a 
love poem called "Lullaby", some trivial verselets of his. 

In keeping with the emphasis Angry Penguins likes to place upon its 
relations with other literatures, there are some reprints of English, American 
and Greek poems as well as an appreciation of the writings of Henry Miller by 
Ken Pittendrigh and a short article on Rembrandt by H. P. Kremer. The issue 
concludes with criticisms of Lionel Lindsay s Addled Art by Adrian Lawlor and 





Poetry: A Quarterly of Australian and New Zealand Verse. Edited by 
Flexmore Hudson. Nos. 7, 8 and 9. (Editor, Lucindale, S.A. 1943. is. 6d. 

A preface to No. 8 by Mr. Flexmore Hudson explains his principles df 
choice in making these selections. He demands genuineness of emotion and 
holds a brief for no school or theory; he is broad-minded on the matter of 
"obscurity" and has passed an Exclusion Act against only Max Harris and the 
Surrealists. The proof of the pudding is that more than thirty poets contribute 
the fifty-odd poems in these numbers, so that, granted the inevitable variation of 
quality, the editor s claim of representativeness is justified. 

The Jindyworobak "back to the aborigine and forward to the dawn" attitude 
is represented principally by Ian Mudie, and may I be pardoned saeva indignatio 
for mentioning him first? In "Murray Night" Mudie (with the name of a 
capital city after his signature) wishes paddle-steamers back on the Darling; 
"Cause for Song" presents a saved young man, "Prelude for Heroes" much 
Stone Age paraphernalia. All of which is strange meat for a Westerner like 
myself; these days we are very glad to be suburbanites at some distance from 
the G.P.O. and let Mr. Mudie try to change us ! He is annoying and 
self -destructive for, when in "Space-Time Continuum" he stops trying to get 
ideas home to those who don t read poetry in any case, he achieves his better 

Australian poetry is not deficient in craftsmanship. From opposite sides 
of the field of any poet s working mind the armies of Honesty and Crafts 
manship advance and somewhere throw their rifles and light cigarettes. A dead- 
centre line may be an ideal or an indefinable myth, but in overseas contemporaries 
like Auden and MacNeice the forces of Honesty seem often to advance with too 
outstripping a colonial ruggedness, while in our native poets the commingling 
seems, generally, still to be at the other end oi the field where it looked good 
once to "serious" poets in reaction from the ballad school. Thus, Brian Vrepont 
is represented in No. 7 alone by four poems in which the utterance could well 
have been trimmed and checked. Vrepont is never at his best when he indulges in 
verse his love of music, and here, in "Bustabo and the Composers", he flogs 
aural perceptions into suffocating visual profusion until one yearns for another 
Vrepont, the neat observer. "The Willows" and "Kol Nidrei" are, similarly, 
unexceptionable in sentiment but pasted thick with repetition and with com 
pounds in Vrepont s ingenious worst fashion. 

Rex Ingamells might well have been mentioned along with Ian Mudie on 
the score of his "Tribute", an elegy, by far the longest poem in these numbers. 
A past companionship is celebrated two young men who "talked over midnight 
coffee" (very urban). Of what? philosophy from Akhnaton to Shelley (observe 
the time-limit), Australian exploration, Alcheringa. I find Ingamells protesting 
too much, too, in his attractively written catalogue of those natural beauties in 
which he sees his dead friend still living, somehow pantheistically, by the power 
of love. There comes the direct statement that these poetic divinations "affirm 
the actuality of your dreams". 

The word "affirm" is a good cue. So many of the most vocal critics in the 
country are talking of the necessity for poetry to make an "affirmation" of some 
sort or another that it is tempting to examine Poetry from this point of view. 
Of course, "affirmation" is a horse of any colour you care to give it and it has 
ever been only necessary for a poet to say he liked anything to get into 



invigorating anthologies. But a strong, "mature" happiness is in most critics 
minds the mark of a modern affirmation, and what of this is there here? There 
is the Utopian Alcheringaism; there is Norma Davis s body no longer that of 
a simple Wordsworthian but of Madame Pompadour intoning the Song of 
Solomon to herself by moonlight ("Moon Madness") no longer content with 
the impact of wind and sun but threatening ecstatic reprisals ("In Such Time") ; 
there is Peter Miles, the movement of whose verse, whether free or rhymed, 
has often a flowing, quiet grace that can, as in "Dedication to a Book" and "You 
Stood in Sunlight", thrust suddenly in the last line, and who, in "Poem About 
Love" and the tenderly conceived "Letter to Ann", finds a purpose in his love 
yet love as a refuge in a world where "only fools and angels can have hope". 
There are six poems by J. R. Hervey : "Neighbours" comments on the individual s 
isolation, "Bomber s Moon" deplores war s ravages, "Lament", verbally the most 
impressive poem, asserts there is "no corner from malevolence", and only in 
"My Son" is there a positive flare as the poet contemplates beyond his time "new 
offensives leaping". But this is no more, I suppose, than to say that life gets 
itself through, and no more an "affirmation" than Eliot s "making the most of the 
mess we have made of things". 

One answer to the Australian affirmationists is that even that (in prose) 
fact-dissolving old man W. B. Yeats recognised the "hereditary sadness of 
English genius". Another is that Menindee and Cargelligo will soon be but a 
short liner-flight from Manhattan, Wessex and the Latin Quarter. The sadder, 
more mordant note in Poetry then? You may have W. Hart-Smith s best of 
four poems, "Contour Map", which catches an aspect of social restlessness, Gina 
Ballantyne envying the stolid, Leonard Mann in "Middle Age" with the finger of 
decrepitude laid on his brow where the worms plan "their sub-divisional lots", 
C. B. Christesen, the satirical and pungent C. J. Dennis of "Street Scene", Edna 
Tredinnick s epigrammatic "Values", and two pieces which deserve separate 
note. James McAuley s "Landscape" (No. 9) is a statement of disillusionment 
in love. In manner it is more orthodox than much of his earlier love-poetry, but, 
whereas his symbolism was, in the past, though often puzzling in detail, forceful 
in sequence and effect, the triteness of "smoking phalluses" (chimneys) seems 
to prove that a little Freudianism is a dangerous thing. A. D. Hope s interesting 
"Necrophile" immediately recalls Eliot s "Whispers of Immortality" and 
wrestles with the same problem of the materialist conception of passion : 

Only if your spirit die 
Will the ghost in me be laid, 
Will the body unafraid 
Meet the carrion body s cry. 

It is, in one way at least, a better poem than Eliot s, for Grishkin is monogamised 
and, so, the situation sharpened. The lines quoted lead to the speculation whether 
Hope will ultimately compromise as Donne and, apparently, Eliot did before 
him. 1 As it stands his emotion appears considered and final an affirming. 

In short, Poetry offers a worth-while sampling of Australian verse of a 
thoughtful, unprovincial kind. One hears a good deal now of the duty of poets 
to become community-conscious. One hopes the community will become more 
and more poet-conscious for the sake of Mr. Flexmore Hudson and other 
intrepid spirits like him. 




Mean jilt Papers. Edited by C. B. Christesen. Spring and Summer, 1943. 
(Brisbane. 35. each.) 

To review such a periodical as Meanjin Papers one should either be 
completely in the current as regards individuals and movements involved, or 
altogether out of it and able to take a detached point of view. I have neither of 
these advantages. I am not in the literary swim ; and certainly not capable in this 
case of a dispassionate approach. Blame the kind editor of Southerly for what 
follows, if blame you will. He has told me to say what I choose, and I propose 
to do that very thing. 

Meanjin, as I imagine everybody knows, is a quarterly dedicated to the 
interests of Australian literature past, present and to come. Many of its 
contributors are writers already distinguished, and some of the younger ones are 
clearly in process of becoming such. These writers belong, I think, mainly to the 
middle or centre of the literary house ; that is to say, they are neither so 
revolutionary nor so reactionary that it is noticed much. Nearly all of Meanjin 
is interesting, a good deal is excellent, little is poor. The "Papers" have about 
them a certain perfume where so many distinguished professionals are involved 
one cannot say of the amateur ; let us say of the uncommercial. The production, 
however, is much more efficiently done all round than most uncommercial 
ventures, and the achievement is a matter for congratulation to all concerned. 

Yet Meanjin does leave me not quite at ease. 

I am worried by the little abo on the title page with his little goanna. They 
are both beautifully drawn and look very pretty. The goanna is very little, not 
much more than a child. The abo has killed it with his little boomerang. As I 
read in the pages that follow, not throughout but here and there, I sense its little 
ghost, sometimes plaintive, but sometimes downright aggressive. 

I suppose the abo and the goanna are symbols of our Australianness, and I 
do not see why they should be so. I do not want to be an abo, not even a little 
one, and find it hard to understand how any Australian, except perhaps those 
of the dark predecessors, can at this time of day so desire. 

Meanjin sees the sources of inspiration for an Australian literature of high 
possibility "in our aborigines, in our geography, in our social history", and 
believes that "the three principal foundations for an Australian literary culture, 
apart from general literature (English, American, Continental) are Australian 
history (and economics, etc.), Australian books so far, and Australian anthro 
pology". As I see things, the principal foundation of our literature is to be 
looked for in our economics, and the sources of inspiration are likely to be found 
in "etc." I don t think "etc." is quite fair of Meanjin] but it does give us 
common ground. For it covers those forces the list of which I have not here 
to hand, but which I remember include love, and man s unconquerable mind. 

It is not at this time of day open to doubt that Australia can and does 
produce persons of genius, characteristic genius, in some profusion. My own 
experience with local poets, which though not comprehensive was instructive, 
has taught me this. It has also taught me that the best of such poets, though 
their work is coloured in grain by its historical and geographical circumstances, 
by feeling for country and sense of period, yet do not indulge themselves in 
song and dance, videlicet corroboree, either over local anthropology or over local 
status. I seem also to have learnt that the cult of such corroborees is inseparable 
from a parochialism both thin and dull. 

" [49] 


Patriotic pride has been a factor in the minds of most great poets, perhaps a 
main factor. It is a factor in our own poets minds. Unless I am much mistaken, 
however, it has never been a main factor in any sound or serious theory of 
literary art ; nor do I see how it could ever be such. As for God save the 
mark! patriotic anthropology, it reminds me of very unpleasant matters, which, 
since this is a belle-lettristic occasion, I shall not bring up. 

I know that aboism can be more than a fad, may even have some at least of 
the characteristics of a passion. I believe, however, that it is folly, a delusion 
wilful at least in part, deriving from an inferiority complex (that most unsound 
of positions), and capable of becoming a dangerous mirage. In matters of the 
mind, imagination is a good servant but a bad master. We must not be 
hypnotised, even by our own landscape, into fancying we are its descendants 
beyond generations which can be counted on the fingers of one hand. 

This is not to say that I regard the abo as a sort of King Charles s head. 
By all means let us mention him. He is part of our tradition. To make him 
taboo would be as bad as making him totem. He and I are no doubt related. All 
the same, I persist in regarding the relationship in its contemporary aspect and 
as distant. He may call me cousin, but I will not accept him as an ancestor, 
no, not even as a sugar-daddy. My stock derives from Europe, such as it is. 

A poet of Great Britain, and one of pronounced insular idiosyncrasies 
(though partly perhaps because of these he spent a good deal of his life abroad) 
said "Shakespeare is not our poet, but the world s". He might surely have said 
the same of every genuine begetting poet Great Britain has produced. I should 
think we might hope in good time to say the same of ours, and so, I surmise, 
does Meanjin. But I don t think we shall hasten the day by prescriptions or 
suggestions such as Meanjin s, however well meant. 

This brings me to a further question. Meanjin sets a high value for authors 
on contemporariness and (if there is such a word) on collocality of subject. 
It seems to me that the importance of these may have been exaggerated. 
Literature, more especially poetry, which after all is the heart of literature, grows 
not only out of the here and now but also out of the there and then. Shakespeare 
he is Meanjin s own instance was once a contemporary author ; yet in no 
single case except perhaps in the Sonnets did he treat a subject that was both 
contemporary and local, and some of his subjects were shockingly ancient 
history, and some of them could hardly be Sctid to have any locality at all. It is 
true that he was well versed in some aspects of Elizabethan history, economics, 
etc. He even had something to say about the abos : there is Cymbcline. But he 
made one of them say "There s livers out of Britain". 

Meanjin follows his lead in reminding us that there s writers out of 
Australia. This seems to me to be a good thing to do. What we need is not 
intensive localisation but imaginative expansion. To expand we must be rooted 
in our own earth ; but how we expand, and where we expand to, in the name of 
literary good sense let the poets decide. In what perhaps under the circumstances 
we may call the administration of literature there is always something a little 
ridiculous about programmes, except about the exception, the programme of 
helping good literature as such. This good programme Meanjin, in spite of its 
whims, is clearly out to pursue. If I may presume to say so, I wish the Papers 
well, and hope they will not take umbrage at the above loose sallies, the intentions 
of which are as good as Meanjin s own. 

C. R. JURY. 



Their Seven Stars Unseen and The Australian Dream. By Ian Mudie. 
(Jindyworobak Publications, Adelaide. IQ43-) 

Content Are the Quiet Ranges and Unknown Land. By Rex Ingamells. 
(Jindyworobak Publications, Adelaide. 1943.) 

Columbus Goes West. By William Hart-Smith. (A Jindyworobak Publica 
tion, Adelaide, 1943.) 

Indelible Voices and With the First Soft Rain. By Flexmore Hudson. 
(Lucindale, South Australia. 1943. 55. each.) 

Among collections published by Jindyworobaks last year are war poems. 
War for the Jindyworobaks has created conditions that give greater relevance 
to their insistence on a national culture steeped in aboriginal legend. They 
would urge that in these disturbed circumstances must be realised an Australian 
attitude as they peculiarly interpret it. Ian Mudie s The Australian Dream, 
printed with an attractive Margaret Preston cover design, was the winning entry 
in the recent W. J. Miles Memorial Competition for a patriotic poem or song, 
organised by the Jindyworobak Club. Mr. Mudie, with some show of nostalgic 
hysteria, urges that "the bitter bombs on Darwin s soil" were "our birth". 
. . . weep not earth, that bitter day, 
when steel first spattered in the Darwin dust . . . 
that day began the new Australian dream, i 

flaring across a re-made sky in which 
the stars of the Australian miracle, 
the Southern Cross, by daylit minds was seen 
from Bondi sands to Kimberley s far hills. . . . 

No longer will the Europeans who have wandered to this land be "amiable 
strangers homeless". They will become one with the land, their thought deriving 
virility from its history and primitive tribal life. 

The long poem is in four sections. The first is of this awakening. The 
second, "Pioneers", retraces the history of this land from its formation and 
inhabitance by aboriginal tribes to the present scene. "The Lovers", the third 
section, speaks of those "lonely few" who are the lovers of Australia. The 
final section, "Sons", is of those now fighting for the land. 

they shall retell the tales of vanished tribes ; 

they soon shall wake us to our continent ; 

the firesticks of their minds will soon relight 

the scattered camp-fires of Australia s dream. 

Skilful and lovely descriptive passages of the land in "Pioneers" and "Sons", 
imagery drawn deftly from tribal custom, are impaired by their juxtaposition 
with harsh propagandist verse insisting on an isolationist national attitude. Mr. 
Mudie s collection, The Seven Stars Unseen, speaks in similar tones of the "hour 
of nationhood" which comes with "the rolling of the drums", of the "Young 
Warriors", who 

. . . stand at the head 

of the gully of dawn, 

unsensed kylies in their hands, 

forward-looking, yet still unseeing. 

Rex Ingamells s poems of war in his Content Are the Quiet Ranges 
"Mankind", "Voice of the Crow" are terse and dispassionate. "War After 
War" formulates the belief that 


... The Bulk of Mars has thudded 
too certainly along the centuries 
for this to blare his exit. 

While man "takes no time to understand, but hates and wars", "content are the 
quiet ranges". Mr. Ingamells is concerned with his desire that now at last the 
Australian shall come to know his land as he knows it. 

Mirabooka, across the still branches 

of trees that are older than settlement and now dark, 

but bright with Alcheringa, my spirit calls to you. . . . 

. Lacking artificial daylight 
to help them to imagine 
the immense night inferior, 
now may my people, 
expelled from their neon-niche, 
walking in black-out, 
find you, Mirrabooka. 

In Unknown Land Mr. Ingamells weaves together aboriginal legends and would 
engraft them on the culture of the Europeans who have migrated to Australia. 
A glossary of aboriginal terms is attached to this later collection, but unfor 
tunately it is by no means complete. , . 

Short poems of slight single themes make up William Hart-Smith s collection 
Columbus Goes West. Early poems sketch abofiginal Elders, "The Fishing 
Lubra" and "Firemaker" ; later poems in the collection, in the same quiet, 
effortless tone, depict a "Soldier on a Bridge", "Reflection Through a Mess-room 
Window", and "Night Picket". 

Flexmore Hudson s Indelible Voices is his "survey of truth" before joining 
his comrades in arms. Despite Ambrose Pratt s eulogistic foreword, many will 
undoubtedly be found who do not share his opinion that this is Flexmore Hudson s 
"first great poem", that Hudson is a poet, or has "many tantalising glimpses of 
genius". The strange conglomeration of prose and verse that is With the First 
Soft Rain is farcical. 

Over in Europe smoke hangs high over a burning, shattered land. 
Millions there are dying, and glad to die because of pain. Planes 
sow bombs in cities crowded as hives ; children insane with fear 
dig at the earth with their hands and their teeth to hide. Tanks 
make jam of wounded men. Flame-throwers roast the tank-crews. 
Men shoot, gas, smoke, bayonet, crush, drown, bury one another. 

But worst of all, in every land men are beginning to believe evil 
of their own soul, beginning to lose heart, and fear that wars and 
suffering are as remote from our control as the rotation of a spiral 
nebula ! 

And against this sad despair I raise my cry. 

A mere poet sprawling in the sun, I laugh defeatists down. 

The collections are disappointing. Australian war poetry of any significance 
will not be found in them. The Jindyworobaks, Ian Mudie and Rex Ingamells, 
have written of war only as it colours their own limited interpretation of the 
Australian scene. 




The Happy Warrior. By Patrick Hore-Ruthven. (Angus & Robertson. 
1943. 45. 6d.) 

The fourteen short poems left by the late Captain Hore-Ruthven will be 
read with pleasure qualified by a sharp sense of loss. In personal qualities the 
author reminds one of Julian Grenfell. Both were young men of fine gallantry 
who loved horses and open country, who had humour and generosity and the 
flame of life, together with that sense of chivalric honour which an older 
Cavalier poet has put once and for all into two lines. 

With a single exception, the poems are dated. One, "To Pamela on Exmoor", 
was written as early as 1934 and revives a Georgian mode so naturally as 
scarcely to seem out of date. Of the remaining poems, most were written 
during the war or in the shadow of its approach, and are refreshingly unconscious 
of all that students of literature have been taught to feel or not to feel on this 
subject. At times (as in the lines to fallen France, "Victrix Resurget") they 
do not go beyond topical rhetoric, and at times (as in "The Young Men") they 
strike me as too easily exuberant in feeling and expression. But some, especially 
of the latest, poems have been disciplined by exact observation or specific emotion 
to a finer temper. "Bidya" a free verse impression of a foray is vivid, 
nervous and shapely ; and the two threnodies, "In Palestine" and "To a Young 
Man who Died", are spare and keen. One feels that in war the poet s talent was 
finding the training which it required. 

Different degrees of merit may be distinguished in these poems, but the 
brave and attractive spirit of the poet makes itself felt from the first word to 
the last. 



The Merciless Beauty. By Ernest Briggs. (The Meanjin Press, 1943. 55.) 
A note on the jacket informs us that The Merciless Beauty is the first book of 
poems by this young Queensland poet. It is a small book, containing a sequence 
of seven poems, each headed with a motto, appropriately from Blake. Appro 
priately, because,,. like Blake, he is inspired not so much by what Briggs calls 
"The common leaven of humanity" as by a mystic vision of "Beauty" or 
"Immortality" or "The Holy Word" : 

So agonise 

Until I find 

Once more 

The merciless beauty 

Of the mind 

Made pure ; . . . 

The themes, apart from the last poem on W. B. Yeats, all directly express the 
immortality of this vision, the pain of the seer, the struggle to objectify the 
vision in art, or the triumph of the mind over the flux of time. In one sense 
of the word, Briggs is a romantic, who seeks his goal beyond ordinary life: 

Beauty intangible . . . 

I lose your presence in the market-place, ... 

Or he might be called a mystic, who, as Arnold said of Amiel, is "bedazzled 
with the infinite". Undoubtedly, he seems utterly sincere in this. He has, in his 
own phrase, a "purity of purpose", which often gives urgency to his rhythms, and 
sometimes power to his words. But there are dangers common to this kind of 



inspiration which he has not avoided excessive and strained emotion, and a 
frequent use of vague, abstract words, which fail to bite. Thus the Merciless 
Beauty is addressed : 

... So tear the soul out of this plastic flesh ; 
So rack 

With rapture of pain and ecstasy 
Until I sigh, 

"Strength has gone out of me", . . . 
or we have a string of abstractions : 

. . . aching hearts 
That held the Holy Word as chalices 
The inconceivable Beatitude that parts 
The incommunicable thought that is 
Reality from transcience [sic] . . . 

Blake, indeed, fell into the same artistic dangers, from a similar cause. 
It is a pity that Ernest Briggs has not , learnt more from the "burnished verse" 
of Yeats, who for all his strange speculations, kept his expression firmly 

The best-sustained poem in the book is also the longest. It is a statement 
of the ecstasy and despairs of the artistic genius, with a personal reference to his 
own struggles. Apart from occasional flatness : 

(For Genius 
Is not terrigenous . . .) 

the poem is rapid and powerful in movement and in feeling, and sometimes 
achieves a striking compression of phrase, as in speaking of the artist who 

Builds up his immortality 

With hands that die. 

Other scattered lines in the book have a quality like Yeats s (e.g., "The dust 
returns miraculous ivories" or "Flame on the lettered tomb"). Briggs has 
indicated his own most profitable line of development when he writes of his 
need to "sing" : 

Till discipline 


Complexity . . . 

and until the "intolerable light" of his genuine visions be further reduced* to 
poetic concreteness. 



The Great Attainder. By F. J. Letters. (Author, Sydney. 1943. 7s. 6d.) 

In Mr. Letters s book of verse you never know what you will meet next. It 

may be an epigram or an ode, a sonnet or a piece of free verse: it may be as 

lush as Keats or as angular as Eliot. Keats, I think, would have delighted in 

the phrase 

to surmise 
The wind s shape from its veil of butterflies ; 

and although Mr. Letters can write in the vein of Hopkins or Eliot when he 
likes, his preference clearly goes to the elder poets. In phrase and cadence, 
indeed, he is often content to be derivative ; and his originality appears less in 
the texture of his work than in its general scope and character. His is a 
ruminative and enquiring mind, in which imagination and t fancy are often oddly 
blended with humour. In those poems where humour predominates he is not, 



I think, at his best : his "Rules for Remaining Friendly with Centaurs" are 
funny but heavy-handed, and the "Lovesong of P. Eustace Toomey", despite 
some agreeably ghoulish moments, lacks the deftness which a burlesque of 
Eliot requires. But all through the volume there are shoots and flashes and 
undercurrents of humour which play an important part in more complex poems. 
One is delighted by the yellow and scarlet dons reflecting the splendour of 
autumn foliage, and (in a different way) by that hell of idleness where 

engineers sit twiddling vacant thumbs 
By Pyriphlegethon s unharnessed falls. 

In "T for Tiger" a splendid line like "Ribbed with midnight and with fire" shades 
with awe the Tiger s quizzical address to the infant poet : 

Winner of the spelling bee, 

Wilt thou spell my mystery? 

I emphasise this vein of humour because it is symptomatic of the poet s talent 
for odd viewpoints, and because (as in Flecker) it is deliberately used to counter 
point the splendour which he loves. This taste for splendour may sometimes be 
carried too far. In the title poem, for example, outline tends to dissolve in 
magnificent elaboration; and Mr. Letters s care to load every rift with ore 
sometimes leads him to put up with ambiguous constructions, and to lean too 
heavily on epithets ("glamorous", "fulgurant", "aeoned", etc.) which describe 
rather than create the effect desired. One of the cleanest and most economical 
bits of work in the book is the little "Spider and Ant-Lion" ; but it- is hard to 
find a page on which there is not something which tempts one to look further. 



Things You See When You Haven t Got a Gun. By Harry Hooton. 
(Author, Sydney. 2s. 6d.) 

Mr. Hooton is a poet of ideas, or at least of one Idea. This is implied in 
the title, expounded in the text, and exploded in the last line of the last poem. 

If we stop "stark staring" down a gun at our fellow-men, says Mr. Hooton, 
we shall see the following things (if nothing else) : 

As a subject of art or study humanity is dated. 

We are not creatures but creators. 

A creator cannot study himself but only his work. 

It is refreshing to find a poet with a positive creed, however limited. Mr. 
Hooton expresses his Idea variously, in prose, in prose aphorisms, and in verse. 
The prose forms are more successful than the verse, which suffers from the 
limitation of his Idea. 

Because the Idea is limited it tends to become illogical. He denounces the 
intelligentsia, and is obviously one of them. He denounces didactic poetry, and, 
on his own admission, writes it : 

I am sorry I shudder my 

arty friends for 


have written a didactic poem 

(and is it a poem or only a prose?) 

The poet (with commendable self-criticism) suspects what we have sus 
pectedthat his poems are often "only a prose". Usually he lacks poetical 
compression and metrical awareness. He preaches his theories, but we don t 
experience them. 



In spite of these general tendencies towards "prosiness", however, we 
occasionally strike an image of poetic force: 

poem should just 


like a raindrop or a 
or a cup of tea ; 
it should just be a palpable 

globular fruit 
or a deaf mute 

the gravid yellow pulp of an orange with 
silent peel exquisitely stripped 
or just the ineffable pips . . . 

And even when we disagree with Mr. Hooton s views, at least he has the power 
to make us think. 




A Poem. By Brian F. Pidgeon. 

A recent Poem of considerable interest is one of 860 lines published in the 
March nurnber of The Australian Church Quarterly. It is written mostly in 
blank verse of fine quality, the greater part of which is in iambic pentameters, 
and begins: 

Thus ends my lengthy holiday : your choice 
Of this secluded spot for me was wise. 
Tou realised my greatest need was rest 
In unfamiliar regions, well removed 
From workaday surroundings, and these weeks 
Have wrought a transformation. 
A further example is : 

Is the gift 

Of artistry denied us? We shall make 
Our very lives the medium of our art, 
Thus teaching our rough reeds to pipe in tune 
With nature s endless symphony. But how 
Ach ieve this consummation? 

One portion, however, is in longer lines, dactylic hexameters, and reminds one 
of Piers Plowman, not indeed being in the same metre, but having what orie 
might call the same "feel" about it : 

Fitful the loosened leaves flutter down to their rest in the shadows, 

Broidering here with gold, there with russet, the lawns 

Where I am stretched at ease. The ceaseless drone of the highways, 

Dulled to a distant murmur, here but deepens the calm 

Bringing reflective thoughts. The mind meanders at random 

Over the broad dominion held in fee of the past. 

The author seems to have been greatly influenced by Browning, and one 
might almost imagine some portions to have been written by that poet : 

Well, suppose 

I ve fallen, may it not be that descent 

To ralleys means a later climb to heights 

Undreamed by those who pass their days secure 

Upon the level plateau? 




Tell me, then, 

Can you explain by logic, link by link, 
Without a break in the chain, the sudden thrill 
You often have confessed to on that road 
That circles round the mount? 

and also 


Suppose that you are right, suppose indeed 
That here and now the book of absolute truth 
For you and me were opened, and we saw 
Man in his true perspective . . . 

The influence of Shakespeare is also apparent. 

The subject is the mental and spiritual development of a young man whose 
changing moods of optimism arid depression eventually lead to a solution of his 
problems. Included in it is a very fine verse rendering of the I48th Psalm : 

Praise ye the Lord from the earth, ye monsters, and deeps of the ocean, 

Lightning, snow and hail ; winds fulfilling His word ; 

Mountains and little hills, with trees of the orchard and cedars. 

Of the seven parts into which the poem is divided, four are letters between 
one and other of the three principal characters, two are meditations, and one is 
a portion of a conversation a monologue. 

The poem is well worth study by any of our poets who write blank verse or 
who contemplate doing so. 



In 1942, a little group of Association members, with the somewhat astonished 
consent of the Committee, succeeded in running fortnightly lunch-hour poetry 

It was Janet Stephen who started the movement, aided by Ruth Bedford 
and Earle Hooper, and especially by Mrs. Berthe Irom, who placed a corner of 
the E. F. and G. Library at our disposal. Nine readings from June to November 
brought an ever increasing group of listeners, who undoubtedly felt the greater 
understanding and enjoyment of poetry that derives from hearing it. Also, 
book-sales were directly due to these gatherings. The poets who read from 
their verse were : Rosemary Dobson, T. Inglis Moore, Mary Lang, R. G. 
Howarth, Ruth Bedford, A. D. Hope, Dora Wilcox, Muir Holburn, Nuri Mass, 
H. M. Green, Elisabeth Lambert and Freda MacDonnell. R. G. Howarth also 
read from Edith Sitwell, and older English and Australian poetry was read by 
Beryl Bryant, Beatrice MacDonald and Mrs. Kurschner; while Miles Franklin 
read from the mysterious "", and Berthe Irom gave some translations of 
modern Czecho-Slovakian poetry. 

If the Poetry Bookshop in London can, and Continental bookshops in other 
days could, make place for these most desirable readings, season after season, 
surely some quiet place for the poetry lovers of Sydney, for regular half-hour 
readings, could be arranged? 

We hand on the torch ! 

J.S. . . . R.B. . . . F.E.H. 




September-October, 1943 

"Llewelyn Powys" 
October 27 : Mr. C. J. H. O Brien, B.A. 

The most important characteristics of Llewelyn Powys s work are a capacity 
for living with a deep, tenacious enjoyment and an unflinching awareness of the 
instability of life. The corner-stone of his philosophy was the conviction that 
human welfare is inseparable from the life of the senses. To be unceasingly 
receptive to their impressions was, he believed, the secret of happiness, for 
through them we become aware of the mystery and beauty of the universe. 

Powys believed that in sense-experience there was a kind of ultimate 
reality. This conviction led him to reject the notion that there is any form 
of divine control or ethical direction in the natural order. It appeared to him 
folly to imagine that an unending, changeless revolution of planets in limitless 
space could be affected by moral consideration. He was convinced that human 
endeavours and achievements count for nothing in the scheme of things. But 
his philosophy was not one of unrelieved pessimism ; the knowledge of the 
impermanence of human affairs contrasted with the massive permanence of the 
heavenly systems enabled him to distil a final poetic essence from the situation. 

Powys s work is not easy to classify, but a division may be made according 
to subject-matter. The first group is chiefly concerned with his views on 
human destiny and conduct, and shows an incapacity for detached investigation 
and argument; the considerable body of opinion against materialism is ignored. 
The second group comprises two books on the history of Christianity The Cradle 
of God and The Pathetic Fallacy. His scepticism imparts an ironic tone to the 
style and only meagre references are supplied in support of the argument; the 
special virtue of both books is the poetical interpretation of religious story. The 
third group contains two small volumes on literary subjects, Thirteen Worthies 
and Rats in the Sacristy ; nearly all the writers discussed are shown to have an 
attitude towards life that closely resembles that* of Llewelyn Powys himself. 
The fourth group consists of narrative. Love and Death, the most important 
work in this field, confirms the impression that Powys s mind was receptive and 
contemplative rather than dynamic and inventive. Its chief weakness is a 
sluggishness of movement, but Powys s perception of the beauty of* the material 
world and of the transience of human life enabled him to v evoke an atmosphere 
in keeping with all aspects of the theme. 

Our estimate of Powys s work must depend mainly upon the quality of his 
expression. His style is the product of much deliberate craftsmanship and is 
marked by great imaginative power in imagery and by visual exactness ; to an 
exceptional degree it is concrete and definite, a fitting medium for a writer who 
believed that the mind is "the apex-point of the senses". 

"The Teaching of English" 
July, 1943 : Mr. Brian Hone, M.A. 
It is regretted that no summary of this address is available. 




The annual dinner of the Australian English Association was held in the 
University Union Withdrawing Room on Thursday, 25th November. The 
speakers were Mr. R. J. F. Boyer, Mr. H. L. McLoskey, the Hon. T. D. Mutch, 
and Mr. J. J. Hardie. 

Mr. Boyer, who proposed the toast of the Australian English Association, 
said that the association had set itself a task not only of encouraging the study 
of English literature, but also of preserving standards of purity and excellence. 
This latter objective was one which demanded a clear perception as to what 
actually were the permanent norms of literary form which should be maintained. 
It was necessary to remember that the English language, like all things vital and 
beautiful, was a developing thing which moved and grew with the people who 
used it. It was a currency which, like gold, might have its permanence challenged 
unless it was expressive of the needs of a generation or attracted the allegiance 
of that generation. Room had to be left for the expression of the deepest 
feelings of each age in terms of its own idiom. What, then, of the great riches 
and beauties of our literary heritage might we regard as fundamental for all 
time? Might they not be found in the inherent graciousness and nobility of 
expression rather than in the forms employed? These spiritual intangibles were 
valid for all time. 

Mr. McLoskey, in responding to the toast, said that it was a privilege 
to be asked to speak for a body which had completed twenty years useful 
existence in the interests of scholarship and culture, and which had been 
honoured by the membership of good men and eminent scholars, such as the 
late President, Sir Mungo MacCallum, and his successor, Professor E. R. 
Holme. There was reason to be proud also of the ties which bound the 
association to a parent body which had bravely kept aloft the tattered banner of 
culture, and further reason for pride in the knowledge that the Sydney branch 
alone of the Australian branches had survived the impact of war. 

But there was reason to regret the position which the association occupied. 
English was the core of our cultural life, and an association charged with the 
cultivation and perpetuation of its ideals should be the strongest of all cultural 
institutions in the community; the Australian English Association was not. Its 
lectures should be more widely attended; every metropolitan teacher, and 
certainly every metropolitan teacher of English at least, should be a member, and 
all Arts students and senior students of English in our secondary schools should 
take advantage of the special form of membership open to them. Unfortunately 
art and literature were often most harmed by their votaries. As Gresham 
postulated of money, the bad tended to drive out the good. The association 
should welcome all varieties of literary and artistic thought and opinion, and seek 
by examination and discussion to arrive at truth and beauty. 

In proposing the toast of Australian literature, Mr. Mutch said that he did 
not interpret that term as including all literature written by or about Australians 
or Australia. The qualifying adjective required that the literature referred to 
should have some distinctive character should bear some quality, difficult to 
define, that radiated the spirit of the country. Most of the earlier essays in 
poetry and prose written in Australia were obviously the work of transplanted 
Englishmen, even in the case of some writers who were actually born here. The 
first exception was William Charles Wentworth, whose national pride was 
expressed in his passionately patriotic poem "Australasia". Despite its somewhat 
stilted classical form and verbiage there was scarcely a line that did not breathe 
a perfervid devotion to the land of his birth. 



Seventy years passed before another writer appeared whose work had a 
definitely Australian quality. This writer was Henry Lawson, whose works 
provided the pattern for hundreds of Australian writers. One virtue of his 
writing was his effective use of short, strong, simple words; he wrote most of 
his prose in basic English. The nearest approach to Lawson s work was that of 
Miles Franklin and "Brent of Bin Bin" ; and it was with such writers as these 
that we should begin in speaking of Australian literature. 

In reply, Mr. J. J. Hardie spoke of some of the difficulties which Australian 
writers had to face. Australian publishers had failed to take advantage of the 
particular demand for cheap editions of Australian novels since the war started. 
Our own troops and Allied soldiers constituted a market that should have been 
exploited not only in their interests but also in the interests of Australian writers. 

The future of Australian literature depended to a large extent on improving 
the conditions under which Australian writers were forced to work. Because of 
our limited markets, books published in Australia had not brought in so much 
to their authors as in other English-speaking countries and contracts between 
publisher and author which might be suitable in those other countries did not 
offer sufficient reward to the local writer. 

Instances were quoted which proved that the Australian writer was probably 
the poorest paid member of the community and unless he had private means or 
a regular job had a struggle to survive. Subsidies were not conducive to the 
production of good work; this could only be attained by guaranteeing the writer 
an ample reward for work achieved. Many past and present writers had shown 
promise of achieving fame in Australian literature but had been discouraged by 
the inadequate pecuniary rewards of their efforts. 



In common with other bodies whose aims are mainly cultural our association 
has faced a difficult year. With so many members engaged in various forms of 
war work or occupied with other interests attendances at meetings have been 
affected to a degree that has caused keen disappointment to the committee and 
offered little encouragement to the speakers. 

Perhaps afternoon meetings have presented a difficulty and a possible return 
to evening gatherings may result in improved attendances ; the committee asks 
members for increased and more consistent support. 

While there has been an encouraging influx of new members during the 
year, the number who have allowed their subscriptions to lapse is disappointing. 
It is realised that times are difficult, but this association, one of the few truly 
cultural bodies in Sydney, with a proud record of achievement over a period of 
twenty-one years, deserves more than casual support. 

The determination of the committee to maintain the publication of Southerly 
has been a heavy strain on the association s finances, but with the help of 
donations from members it has been possible to carry on to the end of the year. 
During Mr. Howarth s absence on leave, Southerly was edited by Dr. Mitchell 
and Miss Thelma Herring, who, however, owing to stress of University work 
at the end of the year, could not undertake the supervision of the final number, 
which has been edited by Mr. C. J. H. O Brien and Mr. Wesley Milgate. 

To each of these members the committee wishes to express its thanks and 



It is extremely gratifying to know that, having survived such troublous 
times, the future of the magazine is assured. Messrs. Angus & Robertson have 
consented to publish Southerly for a period of two years, with the hope that, 
during that time, it may establish itself as the leading literary magazine in 

Editorial control remains with the association and in the same capable hands 
that have brought it to its present status. It is hoped, if difficulties of paper 
quotas can be overcome, that the magazine in future will appear increased in 
size and circulation. 

The association desires to express its appreciation of the compliment paid 
it by Messrs. Angus & Robertson. 

The Annual General Meeting was held on Wednesday, 2Qth April. Mr. 
McLoskey presided. 

The Annual Report and Balance Sheet were presented and adopted and 
office-bearers for 1943 were elected. 

The Annual Dinner was held on 25th November in the Withdrawing Room 
at the University, more than sixty members attending. Professor Holme 

The toast of "The Association" was proposed by Mr. R. J. F. Boyer, M.A., 
and Mr. McLoskey, M.A., LL.B., replied. "Australian Literature" was proposed 
by the Hon. T. D. Mutch and replied to by Mr. J. J. Hardie. 
The following addresses were given during the year : 

March : Mr. H. M. Green, B.A., LL.B., "Hugh McCrae". 

May: Mr*. Frank Clewlow, "Poets I Have Met". 

June: Miss Beatrice Davis, B.A., "Books in Australia Today". 

July: Mr. B. W. Hone, M. A., "The Teaching of English". 

August: Miss Gwen Smith, "Archibald MacLeish" ; Mr. R. K. Levis, 

"Robinson Jeffers". 
September: Mr. C. J. H. O Brien, B.A., "Llewelyn Powys". 


Hon. Secretary. 


Frank Wilmot Memorial. The following notice has been received from the 
Frank Wilmot Memorial Committee: "Frank Wilmot ( Furnley Maurice ) died 
in February, 1942. Shortly afterwards a committee was formed to consider the 
question of a memorial to him, and Mr. Vance Palmer agreed to write a memoir. 
This was published about the end of the year, a large proportion of the issue has 
since been sold, and a satisfactory profit of 36 us. id. has been made. 

"The committee felt that the memorial might take the form of a gift of 
money to the University of Melbourne, the income of which would be applied 
to the purchase of Australian books for the University Library. If this were 
done a book-plate would be designed and a copy placed in each volume. 
Permission might also* be sought to affix a memorial plaque on the University 
Press building in which Wilmot worked for the last ten years of his life. 



" Subscriptions for the above objects may be sent to the Honorary Treasurer, 
Mr. P. Serle, 70 Church Street, Hawthorn, Victoria. PERCIVAL SERLE, Chair 
man ; LEIGH SCOTT, Honorary Secretary." 

"Southerly", December, 1943 : Corrections. P. 25, "myth, CURiously" : read 
"myth CURiously" ; p. 38, "February" : read "March". 

The Jindyworobak Anthology. Contributions are invited for the 1944 
volume, which is to be edited by Mr. William Hart-Smith. The scope of the 
anthology is being widened as much as possible. Poems should be sent to Mr. 
Hart-Smith, at 18 Mulgarra Street, Northbridge, not later than September 30. 

Pamphlets from Allahabad. Mr. S. C. Deb, Honorary Secretary of the 
U.P. Branch, Allahabad, of the English Association, writes to say that he is 
collecting for the A.E.A., Sydney, "as representative a set of the Pamphlets 
issued by members of our Branch as possible". This kind gift will be awaited 
with keen interest. It may here be mentioned that, in return for the volume 
of Essays and Studies received from the U.P. Branch, a set of A.E.A. 
publications has been offered. 

Donations to "Southerly". Further donations include : Aubrey Halloran, 
i is.; Miss Lucy Dunster, 4s. ; Norman K. Harvey, i is.; F. T. Berman, 
IDS. 6d.; R.G.H., IDS. 

Income and Expenditure Account for Year Ending 3ist December, 



Jan. 1, 1942. 




Credit Balance 
Members Subscriptions 
One Life Member 
Donations General and 
S.U.D.S. Play-Reading 
Annual Dinner, Ticket Sales 
Sales, Advts., etc. (Mr. P. T. 
Berman ) 
Miscellaneous Sales 
Southerly, Bound Volume 













Secretarial Expenses 
Treasurer s Expenses 
Southerly Editorial Sundries 
Printing Southerly 
Vol. Ill, No. 2 .. .. 
Vol. IV, No. 1 . . . . 
Vol. IV, No. 2 . . . . 
Title Pages 










Bank Charges 
English Association, London 
Annual Dinner 

Total .. ..147 






Government Savings Bank 

Dec, 31. 




Credit Balance, Commercial 

Interest (31/12/43) .. .. 







Total . . . . 



Total . . . . 




6th February, 1944. 

Certified correct : 

WALLACE LEONARD, Hon. Treasurer. 
Audited and found correct: 

W. E. TOMS, Hon. Auditor. 



Price 3/6 each 
BEYOND THE CLAW. By Brian Vrepont. 

The Bulletin (Sydney): "Both in his lapses and in his virtues 
Vrepont makes one think of Whitman, Browning- and Hopkins. 
Tf his lines, as theirs do. often bumo and erroan with too heavy a 

isculinity about it all. 
latest poems vigorous 

us, whether lyric or 
id humanity. He has 
.gth and beauty. 

e who regard realism 
ho sees and feels the 

, but he does not, like 
ipe from life but the 


le book of Australian 
there has been nothing* 

n is well qualified to 

compromise, to make 

memories that set him 

ts brutal reality with- 

dignified only by the 


>oems of Norma Davis, 
to Australian poetry, 
has long been recog- 

ut from the usual run 
Her power of identi- 

;h the bush and all its 

c nr TTlrJmiin/1 T^lnnHcm 


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for Service DAVID JONES since /8*8 



Office-bearers, 1944 

Patrons: His Excellency the Right Hon. Lord Cowrie, V.C., G.C.M.G., C.B., 
D.S.O., Governor-General, and Lady Cowrie, Dame Mary Gilmore, Miss 
Dorothea Mackellar, Rev. C. J. Prescott, M.A., D.D., Rev. G. W. Thatcher, 
M.A., D.D. 

President: Emeritus Professor E. R. Holme, O.B.E., M.A., Commander of the 

Order of Leopold II. 
Vice-Presidents : F. T. Berman, B.A, H. M. Green, B.A., LL.D., Miss F. Earle 

Hooper, H. L. McLoskey, M.A., LL.B., Mrs. William Moore, Professor 

A. J. A. Waldock, M.A. 

Hon. Secretary : H. M. Butterley, Hanna Street, Beecroft. 

Editorial Secretary (Leaflets and Reports) : Miss Thelma Herring, M.A. 

Hon. Treasurer: Mrs. F. J. Shephard, B.A., B.Ec. 

Executive Committee : Miss Beatrice Davis, B.A., Aubrey Halloran, B.A., LL.B., 
Miss Thelma Herring, M.A., A. D. Hope, B.A., R. G. Howarth, B.A., B.Litt, 
W. Lennard, M.A., R. K. Levis, B.A., A. G. Mitchell,* M.A., Ph.D., Professor 
A. D. Trendall, M.A., Litt.D. 

* Chairman of Committee. 

Objects of the Association 

(a) To promote the due recognition of English as an essential element in 
the national education and to help in maintaining the purity of the language 
through correctness in both its spoken and its written use. 

(6) To discuss methods of teaching English, and the correlation of school 
and university work. 

(c) To encourage and facilitate advanced study in English literature and 

(d) To unite all those occupied with English studies or interested in the 
Arts; to bring teachers into contact with one another and with writers and 
readers who do not teach; to induce those who are not themselves engaged in 
teaching to use their influence in the promotion of knowledge of English and of 
its literature as a means of intellectual progress . 

Advantages of Membership 

1. Every member of the Association is a member of the English Association, 
London, and receives direct from England the Annual Report. Members may 
also obtain through the Secretary, by payment of 35., the three numbers of the 
magazine English for any year, and the Annual Presidential Address. Copies of 
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2. Members may attend the meetings held in Sydney each month. At these 
meetings addresses are given; poems, dramas and other literary works are read, 
and opportunities are given for discussion and social intercourse. 

3. Selected papers are printed and distributed to members in booklet form. 
Southerly is issued four times a year. 

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5. The Executive Committee is prepared to help in the formation and 
maintenance of branch associations in suburbs and country districts. 

6. Advice and help will be given as far as possible in reading and teaching 
English literature, and in literary work generally. 

Subscription: The annual subscription is 125. 6d., 
payable to the Hon. Secretary, Hanna Street, Beecroft. 

Number Three of 1944 



In this Number . . , 

LITTLE ONE By Marjorie Robertson 

BEACH BURIAL By Kenneth Slesaor 


FIGURE IN CLAY By Ernest G. Moll 

"LET S TALK OF GRAVES ..." R. G. Howarth 

THE DIE-HARDS By Peter Hopegood 



By Murray Gordon 

HEAVEN IS A BUSY PLACE By Douglas Stewart 







Quarterly: Price two shillings (postage extra). 

Subscription for four numbers (including postage )> eight shillings and sixpence. 
Registered at the G.P.O. Sydney for transmission by post as a periodical. 


R. G. Howarth, B.A., B.Litt., 
Department of English, University of Sydney. 

Business Manager 

F. T. Berman, B.A., 
55 William Street, Roseville. 

Advisory Committee 

Beatrice Davis, B.A, H. M. Green, B.A., LL.B, Thelma Herring, 
M.A, A. D. Hope, B.A., A. G. Mitchell, M.A., Ph.D. (Chairman of 
the Executive Committee of the A.E.A.), with H. M. Butterley 
(Honorary Secretary) and Lilian Shephard, B.A., B.Ec. (Honorary 


Contributions are invited from all writers, whether members of the 
Association or not. A stamped and addressed envelope should be 
enclosed for return of unsuitable contributions. If circum 
stances permit, payment for contributions accepted will be made later. 





Little One, by Marjorie Robertson 3 

Beach Burial, by Kenneth Slessor 13 

Joseph Furphy and "Tom Collins", by H. J. Oliver .... . . 14 

Figure in Clay, by Ernest G. Moll 19 

Poem, by Nan McDonald 21 

Let s Talk of Graves of Worms . . .", by R. G. Howarth . . 22 

The Die-Hards, by Peter Hopegood 25 

Australian Literature, 1943, by H. M. Green . . . . 26 

Seascape, by Ian Maxwell 29 

Out of a Fold in Time, by Donovan Clarke 30 

Somebody is Playing the Gramophone, by Murray Gordon . . 31 

Heaven is a Busy Place, by Douglas Stewart 35 

Sleep, by James McAuley 36 



The Big House, by J. McGuire 37 

Explanations 41 

Writer and Reader 

The Subliminal and the Beautiful, by H. L. McLoskey . . 42 

The Myth and Max Harris, by Beatrice Davis 47 

Fresh Fruits of Australian Poetry, by G. R. Manton . . . . 50 

Periodicals of Purpose, by W. Milgate 52 


Unpruned Poets, by Nan McDonald 54 

Publications Received 56 


An Open Letter to "Southerly" , from Max Harris . . . . 57 

The MacCallum Memorial Number 60 

Notes . 61 

Australian English Association Publications . . 




She was the second daughter there were three of them and 
why she hadn t married long before thirty was a wonder. She was 
capable well, capable was scarcely the word for it, because as Mrs 
Haliberd said, "All my daughters are capable, thank God", and she 
meant it piously. Every Sunday she went down on her knees- and 
thank&d God for the blessing of three capable daughters, and if, down 
the years, the thanks became a little automatic, who can blame her 
for that? No one can go on being spontaneously thankful, year after 
year, for three strong young girls, who as time went on were, after 
all, quite capable* of being thankful for themselves. "All of them 
capable, but Merle, well, Merle can cook a shoulder like no one on 
earth, and give her a duck!" You were just left to imagine the 
succulent brown marvel that would emerge from the oven if you gave 
Merle a duck. Even when Merle was quite a tiny thing, Mrs Haliberd 
used to say, "And neat, well, neai s not the word for it tidy as a 
brand new pin. That Elsa, now, and Doris, they re that careless if 
they re not kept at. . . ." 

Elsa, the eldest of the three, had married at eighteen, having 
displayed capabilities in a direction which her mother had not sus 
pected until the desirability of an immediate marriage became 
apparent. But as Mrs Haliberd explained to her God, "She s that 
impulsive, God dear, and that generous, but that careless. . . ." She 
kept this explanation for her God, because Joe Willard, looking dark 
and young and sulky, had taken his bride to live in the city. Elsa 
didn t come home to Sunshannon for a good three years, and a few 
months one way or the other don t matter much in three years. 

Mrs Haliberd, jogging the little blue-eyed Joe on her ample lap, 
enjoyed .having Elsa there to talk to; she didn t know when she d 
enjoyed a talk with another woman as she did those talks with Elsa. 
"There s a lamb", she would say, and twine her thick wrinkled fingers 
through Joe s red gold curls, "there s a lamb . . . . so like his mother. 
And his little nose . . ." and she pressed his fat little button of a nose 
until it was squashed into the wrinkled nose of a little pug dog. "His 
little nose is going to be put right out of joint, that s where his little 
nose is going to be put." A fat chuckle of delight would come from 
Joe and a slow indolent gurgle from Elsa. And Elsa, lying back on 
the cane lounge on the square of lawn under the huge old cedar-tree, 
would protest, "Don make us laugh, ma, now don make us laugh. 
He kicks when I laugh. You wouldn t believe how he kicks when I 



laugh. Doctor says . . ." and off they would go into a long involved 
obstetrical discussion. Little Joe would play with the four pearl 
buttons down the front of Mrs Haliberd s print frock for a while and 
the jigging and jogging would become less and less, until Mrs 
Haliberd s hands rested idly on her knees and Joe slid down her 
plump thighs, down her large cotton-clad legs, to the grass, and away 
down to the fence, round the cow paddock. There he would stand 
with his nose just resting on the lower paling watching the steady 
chewing of old Lily* Shorthorn and the unsteady gambolling of* Lily s 
white calf. 

But having Elsa about the place again didn t do Merle any good. 
Merle was just twenty at the time, a thin girl with a smooth pale 
skin and wide light blue eyes. There was a delicacy, a nicety about 
Merle that none of the other Haliberds showed the faintest sign of 
possessing. She was the artistic one of the family ; doing little bits of 
pottery, stencilling on curtains, painting Christmas calendars with 
bright little birds in vivid colours nodding at you from the centre 
of them. She was very proud of this talent, modestly, deprecatingly 
proud. A faint flush would dye her pale skin if you admired her work 
and her bony little hands would clasp together in front of her and she 
would protest, "Oh, it s just a tiny thing, just a little thing. Nothing, 
really nothing at all." And she would take it out of your hands with 
a satisfied little laugh and tuck it away in the big box she kept for her 

She was secretary to the local solicitor in the township two miles 
away. She had her bicycle and every weekday morning she bicycled 
along the flat red ribbon of a road into Sunshannon and every evening 
she bicycled home again. It was very well thought of, her position. It 
had a certain standing, a certain dignity and tone about it, something 
that was hard to define. For instance, everyone knew that Jessie 
Barker who did the books and typing for the butcher was in a different, 
a lesser, world from the one inhabited by Merle Haliberd. Why, Merle 
was almost a lady. She might have been considered quite a lady if it 
hadn t been for Mrs Haliberd, who, driving into the township twice a 
week, leant her pink, still dimpled elbows on the greasy counter in 
Harrison s shop and prodded the side of bacon with her broad 
wrinkled fingers while she discussed the croup that had little Jimmie 
Harrison in its grip. " Tis crool, poor mite. You ll have difficulty 
rearing that child, Maisie, you mark my words. I know the looks, 
delicate and pernicketty. Thank God, none of mine. . . ." And she 
would crack a joke with Harrison himself when he came into the shop, 
fat and pasty and dour, with a kind of fierce melancholy that ill 



became so fat a man. As she passed him, she would flick his great 
paunch with the back of her hand. This here dieting s doing you 
good, Joe", she would gurgle. "You re getting thin." A queer con 
vulsion would disturb Joe Harrison, a pinkness would rise slowly up 
his neck into his face and every now and again during the day he 
would murmur to his wife "getting thin" and the convulsion would 
disturb him again. It was the nearest he ever came to laughter. 

Well, if it hadn t been for Mrs Haliberd and Doris, the youngest 
of the three sisters, Merle would .have been a lady. Elsa wasn t at 
home enough to do much damage to any lady, but Mrs Haliberd and 
Doris Doris at eighteen was Mrs Haliberd over again plus seven 
years at the local school, with the pink freshness of youth and the 
sunny shine on gold curls well, they were too much, just too much, 
for any girl to have attached to her and still be a lady. That Merle 
was so well thought of was a great triumph for Merle. It showed just 
how near she had come to that happy. state, just how far she had risen 
above her disabilities. 

She was going about with Matt Selby from the bank at this time 
and both Mr Lestrange, the solicitor, and Mrs Calbray, the bank 
manager s wife, were very pleased with the affair. They made such 
a nice neat unassuming couple; Merle with her light brown hair, that 
just missed being the blatant gold of her sisters , and her light wide 
blue eyes, her flat little figure and her carefully modulated voice, and 
Matt such a solid young man, such a careful young man, a man no 
one need be afraid of, as Mrs Calbray frequently asserted. 

But it didn t do Merle any good having Elsa at home. Merle, at 
twenty, looked askance at the ripe fecundity of Elsa. It frightened her 
a little small Joe running about the place and Elsa drifting about in 
the mornings in a voluminous floral gown, heavy eyed, with creamy 
skin and full drooping mouth, slow moving and fruitful. There was 
something about it all that shocked the neat refined little mind and 
soul of Merle. And then big Joe would come for the week-ends and 
stay with them. Merle would see his dark eyes watching Elsa with a 
kind of sullen resentment as though after three years of knowing her 
she was still necessary to him. Joe would leave some time in the 
afternoon on Sunday and after he had gone Elsa and Mrs Haliberd 
would sit together under the cedar-tree; they would have afternoon tea 
there ; they would play with small Joe ; and gradually they would talk, 
small Joe would slip away, and their voices would murmur in what to 
Merle was the hushed monofone of shameful tellings. If Merle came 
by, the monotone would sink and die and Elsa would lie there with 
closed eyes, limp and resting, waiting for Merle to go. 



Merle didn t let Matt come to dinner the first two Sundays Elsa 
was home. She rode into the township after dinner and she and Matt 
walked in the little green park by the river and sat under the willow 
and read Rupert Brooke to each other with their hands lightly held 
together. And then she rode home again before night fell. But the 
third Sunday she had to let Matt come ; he expected it and she couldn t 
explain to him how she felt about Elsa. Well, the effect Elsa had on 
Matt was queer. Such a quiet stolid young man. While Merle, spick 
and span in a pink woollen frock with woollen flowers worked by her 
own hands round the neck and sleeves, carved the tender brown fowl 
she had cooked and laughed her soft light laugh and talked quickly in 
her light careful little voice, he watched Elsa. Not obviously, but 
when she got up to give small Joe his yellow plate, Matt was ready to 
pull out her chair for her. And when she sat down again, Matt was 
ready to push her chair under her. And she looked up at him and 
smiled a slow weary smile as though they both understood. And Merle, 
watching them both, felt her face flush and heard a - quivering note in 
her voice. Matt could have ignored Elsa, could have pretended he 
didn t notice. 

After evening supper, she walked down to the gate with Matt, 
keeping well away from him, not touching him, and talking all the 
time, as though by talking she could keep him away from her and away 
from her thoughts. But at the gate, he put his arms round her in a 
new way, a rough way, a way that wasn t Matt. She stayed there in 
his arms, thin and still, and as he kissed her one hand ran over the 
thin curve of her hip pressing into the soft flesh, ran up and over her 
breasts. Then, warm and trembling, his hand was inside the neck of 
her dress, cupped round her small firm breast. 

Merle ran back to the house ; ran back with knees that trembled 
and a feeling of choking panic in her throat. She didn t go in to the 
others still sitting round the fire, but hurried into her bedroom and 
closed the door. She went to the window and stood there, the window 
flung high to the cold night air, the muslin of the curtains brushing 
against her with a faint swishing sigh like a distant mournful chorus. 
She leant against the sill, her knees still trembling, her breathing 
shallow and irregular, the colour flushing her cheeks and then dying 
away. Matt, Matt who had held her hands so lightly by the river in 
the park ; Matt to handle her as though ... as though. . . . Her 
mind shied away from the thought ; shied away again and again, each 
time to return with a mounting indignation, an indignation that, long 
after she was tossing in her bed, had risen until it obscured from 
herself her own momentary response, her owji wish to have his arms 



around her again, to have that moment by the gate over again and to 
be more responsive for that moment. 

The next morning when she came into breakfast she looked as 
neat and spruce as ever in her dark blue costume with a white pullover 
fitting snugly round her throat, but she looked tired and her mouth 
was a thin tight line. "It s too fat, ma. Look how fat it is." And with 
a grimace she pushed the bacon away from the egg to the side of her 
plate. And she played with her toast, breaking away from the edges 
the dark brown bits, eating only the pale bits from the centre. "It s 
burnt, Doris, it s horrible when it s burnt." And she looked reproach 
fully at Doris. Mrs Haliberd became genial and voluble and Merle 
slipped away from the breakfast table like a plaintive genteel young 

"She s not like us", Mrs Haliberd said to Elsa after Merle had 
ridden away and they were still sitting over the breakfast table with 
its litter of plates on which the egg, dried to a pale yellow skin with 
little bits of bacon fat curled in the drying mess. And Mrs Haliberd 
curved both hands round the big dark brown teapot, testing its warmth, 
stroking it, seeing her large fingers like pale shadows in its depths. 
"Hot enough, hot enough for one more cup." Elsa pushed her cup 
over the green and yellow checks of the cloth and saw the sun light 
up the yellow of the china. "She s not like us^ she s more like yer pa. 
He was the tight kind, refined like and careful. Somehow he never 
seemed to get out of his own skin. He was a one for liking things 
done nice, done neat why, you ask anyone round here who remembers 
him, you ask anyone and they ll tell you, he was a real little gent, so 
nice-spoken, so soft-spoken like. We might, if you feel like it, Els, 
if you don t think it would be too much for you, duckie, we might get 
the trap out this afternoon and take little Joe to the cemetery. It d be 
nice for Joe to see where his granpa is, so neat with such a pretty 
headstone, just the way he would have liked it. You just go and have 
a rest now, duckie, get your feet up something crool the way I used 
to sutler with the legs each time you get your feet up, now, and I ll 
get that Doris to help me. And this afternoon we ll get the trap 
out. ..." 

Elsa went back to the city and the summer came again. The hot 
fierce sun beat down on the red ribbon of a road, the willows drooped 
more sadly in the little park, and the cicadas song shrilled through 
the air until the ceaseless rhythm of that song was the rhythm of 
light, of heat, of thick dust settling from the passing footfall ; until it 
was the very beat of the pulse of life. 



Matt didn t come any more to the Haliberd place that summer. * 
He and Merle didn t walk any more by the river and read Rupert 
Brooke with their hands lightly clasped. Merle didn t say very much, 
just with a prim hurt little smile "I m sorry, Matt, I suppose I m 
different, f suppose I m funny like that, but it s just well, just that 
I m like that, I suppose." And she gave a ladylike shudder of distaste. 
Mrs Calbray, the bank manager s wife, and Mr Lestrange were both 
very upset about it, especially when Matt was seen talking on the 
corner near the war memorial with Doris Haliberd, talking and laugh 
ing gaily just as though nothing had happened between him and Merle, 
just as though he liked talking with Doris there in the sun with her 
hair shining like newly minted gold and her mouth wide and red and 
glistening as she laughed. Mr Lestrange saw them there together 
and he went back to his rooms where Merle s smooth light head was 
bent earnestly over her work ; and as she looked up, he saw the faint 
shadow of the blue veins in her forehead and the smooth pallor of her 
skin. He was angry with Matt, quite fierce about it, really. All that 
day, he saw Merle pale and frightened, with the blue veins like pale 
shadows on the skin of her forehead. "Coarse young brute, insensitive 
young rake." He told Merle to go home early, take" care of herself, 
take this book to read, and he gave her a slim small red leather 
volume of "Poems that Have Helped Me". She smiled a sad small 
smile and went away seeing herself as he had seen her, brushed and 
bruised by the coarseness of life, too sensitive, too fine, too much of 
other clay to bear the lightest blow. 

Just a few years after this, Mr Lestrange s wife died. "I ve lost 
her, my dear", he told Merle in a tremulous voice as she stood with 
her hand on his shoulder to comfort him. "Lost the dear companion 
of my early years, the mother of my children. Death has taken her." 
And standing there, they both saw her like that. The fine companion 
ever by his side, laughing and gay with a deep understanding, a true 
comradeship; the mother of his children, clustering round her 
knee as she bent over the baby at her breast, the essence of the 
maternal. Merle and he both forgot the angular, acid woman, 
champion golfer of the district at sixty, feared at all the local charity 
meetings ; they forgot the contempt in her eyes and voice when she 
spoke to her husband. They forgot that the children had all gone 
away years ago. They were both able to stand there and, with the 
help of death, to rub out truth as though it had never been and play 
their appointed parts of griever and comforter, using the dead woman 
as a prop for their emotions. 



Merle became more and more necessary to him after that. That 
frail scene with all its false emotion was the basis of their companion 
ship; it set the level of it. Always a dapper little figure, he became a 
shade more fussy about his clothes, he developed quite a dash, quite a 
flair for the right tie, the right buttonhole. He was a thin-faced, 
narrow-shouldered little man who carried himself stiffly with his 
shoulders straight as a board. Watching the stiffness of that slight 
figure, the straightness of the shoulders, you sometimes felt that if 
he related that conscious careful carriage he would crumble away and 
leave just a Heap of fine dead dust and a pile of good dark clothes with 
a black bowler hat perched on top. He had a nervous habit ^f 
pulling down his long upper lip, making his nose curve, and rubbing the 
tip of his nose rapidly with the knuckle of his first finger. Whenever he 
made a really good point, whenever he was expounding an idea and was 
particularly pleased with himself, down came his upper lip and up 
went his knuckle, and drooping his head forward he would hold Merle 
with his pale grey eyes, smiling an indulgent smile, and say, "And 
that, my dear, is something I d like you to remember. That s some 
thing worth remembering." She would pat him on the shoulder with 
her pale little hand or she would put a buttonhole in his coat and just 
brush the flower with her lips. She gazed at him with her large blue 
eyes as though she drank in knowledge, as though she cared for him. 
And she saw the Haliberd farm retreating into a far background. 
His fussiness* his gentility, his precision, wrapped her round and 
protected her from life. And so Merle, who shrank from the young 
and vital, flourished in the sickly shade of this pseudo father-daughter, 
teacher-child companionship, while he warmed his thin dry hands at 
the heart of her softly-burning youth. 

Mrs Haliberd didn t approve of it ; she didn t approve of it at all. 
Oh, she knew Mr Lestrange was considered a gentleman by all in 
the town, she knew he had a position to be looked up to. "But it s not 
natural like, Elsa, that s what I say. You and Joe, now not that I 
approve of carryings on, don t you think that, my girl, because I don t 
and never pretended to what I don t feel. But you and Joe was natural, 
a sight too natural, if it comes to that. But Merle, now, and her 
Phillip why, he s old enough to be her father, he could a been her 
father." She sat back in her chair and a rising giggling laugh shook 
and shook her. "He could a been^her father, that s if he ever strayed 
my way." And Mrs Haliberd and Elsa rocked with laughter at the 
thought of thin wrinkled precise Mr Lestrange wandering into the 
strange rough harbourage of Mrs Haliberd s large pink arms. They 
were a pair, all right, were Elsa and Mrs Haliberd; not an ounce to 


choose between the two of them, frank and passionate and forthright, 
with an appetite for life. 

It took eight years, but at the end of those years he was Merle s 
for the rest of his natural life. She had her nice neat precise little 
man with his careful dry voice, like a rustling in summer grass, and 
his careful choice of words, his reading of the right literature, the 
just-so quotations always on his lips pat every moment in life 
catered for, like a well kept grocery store, labelled parcels packed 
neatly on the shelves. . 

There had been nothing about his slow deliberate courtship that 
could possibly offend her. That s what made it so right for her; no 
coarseness, no roughness, and after all, he had breeding, he had a 
position in the town. He could take her away from the Haliberd place, 
away from that contact with life. And really, his care and affection 
for her, his delicacy with her, were more like a father s, a very kind 
and indulgent father s gentle treatment of his favourite daughter. 
His little blue-eyed daughter with her soft fair hair, his playfully 
wayward Merle became gently, kittenishly playful with him small 
daughter who must be taught, who must be instructed. What an 
intellect he had too, what a store of knowledge P Like a squirrel who 
had always known that winter would some time come. And what was 
his mind for but to instruct her? That was one of the joys of the 
companionship for him. To take out a tiny brown nut each day, to 
polish and polish it until it shone, and then to pDp it into her mouth 
no, no, not her mouth, her eager untrained fine little mind, that 
wonderful thirsty cluster of cells just waiting for him to feed them the 
.right kind of food. 

Gazing at herself in the mirror on the day of their marriage, 
Merle could almost see a look of saintliness, of other-worldliness, 
in her eyes. On what a plane he had placed their courtship ! Her 
purity she didn t exactly put it into words but she could see it shining 
there in her face like some strange pale flower. It had been so sacred 
to him, she felt that, felt him holding his breath and treasuring her. 
She felt a little shamed for Matt, a little sorry for him while she was 
standing there looking at herself. But Phillip now, Mrs Phillip 
Lestrange, there was dignity in that. When he talked to her of the 
relationship of the sexes, as he often did in the days of their courtship, 
he made it sound so sane, so calm, with a place in life quite clearly 
defined. Something to be kept as a very special, almost religious, 
treat for Saturdays and holidays. 

"My little one, my dear child", he said in his fine old voice when 
they stood together in the church after they had signed the register. 

I 10] 


Mrs Haliberd snorted rather too audibly for tact. Phillip regretted 
Mrs Haliberd, just as he regretted all the Haliberds but Merle. If 
there had been any way of painlessly removing Mrs Haliberd and 
Doris and Doris s farmer husband and Doris s first born little girl from 
the district he would gladly have taken it. 

But they didn t have to see too much of each other. Phillip had 
his house on the far side of the town, the residential district, and Mrs 
Haliberd s farm was two miles dut on the other side. The few times 
she did pop in, "Just to see y u > Merle, my pet, just to see how you 
was getting on", there was a feeling of not being welcome, a feeling 
of restraint. No nice homely chat ; no flushed laughter as there was 
with Elsa ; no, nothing like that. And the house irked her. It somehow 
smelt of age. It was cluttered with the finicking possessions of one 
who had dealt all his life with small things, with little issues. And 
Merle in the midst of them was more restrained, more ladylike than 
ever, tending her possessions and her Phillip like some serious young 
priestess tending the lamps of her temple. 

But there was no doubt Merle seemed to like it. She seemed to 
flourish in that still atmosphere. She soon was on every committee in 
the town ; running this ; chairwoman of that ; well-dressed, well- 
groomed, her fair neat head held proudly, arrogantly. "Send 
them", she would say to Mrs Harrison with one gloved hand 
impatiently tapping the counter in the general store, "send them all to 
Mrs Phillip Lestrange", and she would nod vaguely at Harrison as she 
went out as though she might, perhaps, have seen him before. Her 
voice, always light in quality, became brittle and definite, almost 
arbitrary, except when she was with Phillip; and then it was 
deferential, playfully deferential. If she didn t like the solemn 
methodical ritual of their Saturday nights, the faint mystical aura 
that gathered round him about nine o clock as round a high priest 
approaching the sacrificial altar "my little one, my child, my little 
white lily", and the dry hand, brown and shrunk, cold and dry and 
dead, passing over her warm soft flesh well, if she didn t like it, no 
one knew. No one, except perhaps herself, ever knew that the pinched 
lines that gathered round her mouth and the nervous shrillness that 
gathered in her voice whenever she was angered were due to an 
increasing apprehension of those nights. Even a priestess must some 
times tire of filling the lamps with oil. 

"Her pa was like that, refined like. He would a been more like 
it, if it hadn t been for me", Mrs Haliberd said with a wide charity to 
Elsa on one of Elsa s holiday visits. But Elsa shrugged her .shoulders 



a magnificent figure of a woman Elsa had become and dismissed 
Merle. To her, Merle was puny and to be dismissed. 

Hut the dog was what really finished it as far as the Haliberd 
family was concerned. The dg was the last straw. The dog somehow 
put the stamp of the lady on Merit- and cut her off from the Haliberds 
as nothing else had ever done. 

Mrs Haliberd had driven into town, picking up Doris and her 
youngest boy on the way, and over acup of coffee in the Snuggery 
the town really was coming on 1 she decided they must all see Merle. 
"I was going anyhow. It s her birthday and I ve never forgot one of 
,you on your birthdays yet, and I m not going to now. It s not for me 
to be the one to forget. So come on, drink up your coffee go on, 
Johnny, my duck, eat your ice cream, and w r e ll drive out. I ve got a 
chicken in the trap, plucked and all, and a cake of my own baking. 
Not that she can t bake a cake better than the next one; but there, I 
felt I d like to have something made with my own hands." 

So out they went. And there on a cushion on the very best 
chair, the one upholstered in the plum brocade, was the dog if you 
could call it a dog. A little golden coloured animal with large mournful 
brown eyes and a squashed disdainful little face. He lifted a weary 
head from his cushion and gazed at them with unveiled distaste, and 
then the tiny golden head, too tired to hold itself erect any longer, 
dropped back on the cushion. And Merle drooped over him, cooed 
and chuckled and stroked him. 

"Phillip gave him to me. He s very rare, very delicate, is mother s 
little lamb." And she slid her fingers softly under the dog s chin and 
the sad dark eyes gazed into hers. "Such a darling. If he s good, 
very good, we ll tie a ribbon round his neck, a nice new blue ribbon, 
for his grandmother to see. And we ll leave it on until tonight." And 
she gathered him, cushion and all, on to her lap. Mrs Haliberd snorted 
and Doris sat stiff and plump and uncomfortable on the edge of the big 
soft sofa, her handbag held tightly in her lap, her eyes wandering 
round the room, noting and remembering the furniture, the flowers, 
the heaped greenery in the fireplace, the ornaments, all the little 

The plucked chicken lay on its paper on the table where Merle had 
unwrapped it when she opened it, and the cake still stayed in its tin 
beside the nakedness* of the chicken. Johnny wandered about the room, 
touching little ashtrays, little black elephants walking in a row across 
the table top, three carved monkeys sitting on top of the wireless 
joined together for ever by their maker. And when he came to the 

I 12] 


table with the chicken lying on it, he played with the stiff dark legs, 
trying to bend them, trying to make them walk. Mrs Haliberd talked. 
Mrs Haliberd always talked. But it was an uncomfortable stream, as 
though it ran over unseen boulders. Merle would answer, "Yes, oh 
yes, mother." She had long ago given up calling her "ma". Or, 
"Really? Oh, really, mother", in an abstracted voice, and then 
excitedly, interestedly, "But look ! Look, mother ! Look, Doris ! Isn t 
he a lamb? Look at that expression now. Have you ever seen any 
thing like it?" And with a high little laugh she would lift the golden 
scrap and bury her face in its soft indifferent neck. 

"Well ! Well, now !" said Mrs Haliberd in the trap going home, 
flicking the horse with her whip. "Well, it might a been a baby he d 
given her, it just might a been a baby. Sit still, you Johnny there, sit 
still, or you ll be out on your head and no more use to anyone ever 
again no more n a fat little dog with a squashed face." 


Softly and humbly to the Gulf of Arabs 

The convoys of dead sailors come; 

At night they sway and wander in the waters far under, 

But morning rolls them in the foam. 

Between the sob and clubbing of the gunfire 

Someone, it seems, has time for this, 

To pluck them from the shallows and bury them in burrows 

And tread the sand upon their nakedness ; 

And each cross, the driven stake of tidewood, 

Bears the last signature of men, 

Written with such perplexity, with such bewildered pity, 

The words choke as they begin 

"Unknown seaman" the ghostly pencil 

Wavers and fades, the purple drips, 

The breath of the wet season has washed their inscriptions 

As blue as drowned men s lips, 

Dead seamen, gone in search of the same landfall, 
Whether as enemies they fought, 

Or fought with us, or neither; the sand joins them together, 
Enlisted on the other front. 

El Alamein, 1942. KENNETH SLESSOR. 

I i3l 



The republication, by Angus and Robertson Limited, of t Such is 
Life has made Joseph Furphy, thirty-two years after his death, "the 
man of the hour". The first edition .of the book (1903) sold very 
slowly; and Such is Life might even have been forgotten had it not 
been for a few of Furphy s friends and the historians and critics of 
Australian literature who kept on telling us of the neglected classic.* 
Such champions of Furphy would not wish him any less than his due ; 
but there is a real danger that some of their statements might even 
stand in the way of his further popularity. 

There is, for example, the tradition that Such is Life lacks form. 
The standard Outline of Australian Literature advances the view 
that Furphy s novel is a "great almost formless siab of outback experi 
ence and fireside yarns", in which the events of certain days are 
"bolted loosely together"; and the writer of an otherwise admirable 
account of the book on the Red Page of the Bulletin (July 26, 1944) 
goes so far as to say that "Tom Collins knew or cared so little about 
the technique of writing that the reader must develop a technique of 
reading him". 

This is the view of his talents that Tom Collins would seem to 
advance himself. He tells us at the very beginning that "a peculiar 
defect which I scarcely like to call an oversight in mental con 
struction shuts me out from the flowery pathway of the romancer", 
but claims to have "the more sterling, if less ornamental qualities of 
the chronicler", namely, "an intuition which reads men like sign 
boards ; a limpid veracity ; and a memory which habitually stereotypes 
all impressions except those relating to personal injuries". It is not 
long before we begin to see that this is the very opposite of the truth ; 
some of the fun of the book comes, for example, from Collins s 
failure to interpret properly the facts that a careful reader has put 
together for himself for instance, his misinterpretation to Stewart 
(in Chapter IV) of the life-story of Warrigal Alf. The reader who is 
not quick to pick up stray hints will naturally miss this fun and 
much else in a particularly subtle book. 

No one, then, can afford to take seriously Collins s claim that he 
has before him a number of diaries, one of which he picks with his 
eyes shut and opens "at random". Added pleasure now comes from 

* Such is Life was re-issued in 1917 by Miss Kate Baker ; an abridged edition 
prepared by Vance Palmer was published by Jonathan Cape in 1937. 



the change of plan after the first chapter. Collins has announced that 
he will take one week f roiry his diary and begins with September 9 ; 
then he decides that he cannot possibly get into "anything like printable 
form" the dialogue of the sheep drovers with whom he spent 
September 10, and therefore decides that he will instead take the 9th of 
each consecutive month "for amplification and comment": 

The thread of narrative being thus purposely broken, no one of these short 
and simple analyses can have any connection with another a point on which I . 
congratulate the judicious reader and the no less judicious writer ; for the former 
is thereby tacitly warned against any expectation of plot or denouement, and so 
secured against disappointment, whilst the latter is relieved from the (to him) 
impossible task of investing prosaic people with romance, and a generally hap 
hazard economy with poetical justice. 

A brief summary of the action will perhaps best indicate how 
deliberately and skilfully the book has been planned and will show 
why the diary- form, in the words, of R. G. Howarth,* is only "a blind". 

In Chapter I we meet a number of bullockies, including Cooper, 
who was "an entire stranger" to Collins. And by page 6 we have also 
met Warrigal Alf these two being the characters on whom the whole 
novel pivots. In the natural course of the evening s discussion, Cooper 
tells the story of his sister Molly, whose lover left her when her face 
was disfigured by the kick of a horse. We learn that Molly disappeared 
from her home on the Hawkesbury and has not been heard of since, 
but that she would be about thirty-five if she were now alive ; and we 
hear of the lover s marriage with a woman "out o the lowest pub. for 
ten mile round", of their one son, of the wife s unfaithfulness and 
the husband s decision to leave her. * 

Chapter II introduces us to Rory O Halloran and his daughter 
Mary a thread to be caught up in Chapter V, when we hear from 
one of the bullockies the story of Mary s death. Chapter III tells the 
famous tale of how Collins lost his pants and narrowly escaped being 
arrested for the burning of a hay-stack this thread being caught up 
in the final chapter when we hear that poor Andrew Glover the swag- 
man served three months for Collins s "offence". These stories are 
also linked to the main one in other ways; as Collins says, "Sometimes 
an under-current of plot, running parallel with the main action, 
emerges from its murky depths, and causes a transient eddy in the 
interminable stream of events." 

In Chapter IV Collins comes to , the rescue of Warrigal Alf, 
seriously ill and in his delirium hearing the voice of a woman dead 
ten years and "silent to me for three years before that", ke tells 

* Sydney Morning Herald, July 8, 1944. 




Collins that he once lived on the Hawkesbury, but left the district 
when he found his wife unfaithful. He mdds too that he regards his 
marriage as his punishment for "one deliberately fiendish and heartless 
action" and that his only son s death has added to the punishment; 
and as we leave him in his delirium we hear the name Molly. All of 
this Collins misinterprets when telling the story to Stewart of 
Kooltopa, who is able to fill in some additional information about 
Warrigal Alf. 

In Chapter VI, after Collins has warned us that he cannot tell a 
love story, we hear of a lonely boundary-rider, Nosey Alf, who has 
a beautiful voice but won t sing when women are near ; whose hut is a 
model of cleanliness and even adorned with flowers ; who has a 
"rippling laugh" and "tapers the wrong way" ; and whose face is 
disfigured but "more beautiful, otherwise, than a man s face is justified 
in being". To this Nosey Alf, Collins tells the story of Warrigal Alf, 
as he misunderstood it ; and he is surprised when Nosey Alf is affected 
by the information that Warrigal Alf is a widower* and is now in 
Western Queensland. In Chapter VII, we hear that Nosey Alf has 
lately been seen "sixty or eighty mile beyond the Darling", heading 

The diary form, then, has been used so that, without any artificial 
rounding-off, incidents may be connected to give the narrative what 
Furphy calls its "peculiar scythe-sweep". We do leave stories and 
return to them; but that is because Furphy likes to go round an 
incident and see it from all sides. A. K. Thomson, in an excellent 
article on "The Greatness of 5 ose P n Furphy" in Meanjin Papers 
(Spring, 1943), has compared the method with that of Browning in 
The Ring and the Book. A better comparison might be with Conrad. 
Both Conrad and Furphy could so easily have told mere thrilling tales 
., of adventure; both elected to fill in the details and let us see each 
incident "whole". And Furphy uses Collins much as Conrad uses 
Marlow, not only to gather the facts but also to guarantee them. 
(Furphy uses that word early in Rigby s Romance in speaking of his 
general method: "These details are nothing to do with my record; 
they are presented merely as a spontaneous evidence and guarantee of 
that fidelity to fact which I acquired early in life, per medium of an 
old stirrup leather, kept for the purpose." He makes a joke of his 
virtues, as of nearly everything else.) There are, of course, differences 
between Furphy s methods and Conrad s. The main one is that in 
Such is Life a greater proportion of the space is devoted to the 
adventures of the narrator. This may well be defended, however, for 
Furphy needs to establish the character of Collins very carefully, since 

* [16] 


his narrator is not only to interpret the enclosed story for us : he is also 
to misinterpret it. 

Let any reader who still thinks that Such is Life is formless, study 
the way in which we are quietly led up to that superb story of Rtfry s 
lost child, and then led- away from it to other similar stories, so that 
the author s reflections when they do come will not seem bathetic. I 
know of none of our literary "craftsmen" who could have handled this 
problem of technique so well. One may apply to Furphy what G. K. 
Chesterton said of Thackeray : "His rambling was all strategy ; for it 
is the very triumph of strategy to look like -rambling. His artlessness 
was precisely his art." 

If ther^ is little justification for the charge of formlessness, there 
is still less for that of inability to handle words. Even A. G. Stephens, 
in the Preface to Rigby s Romance, speaks of Furphy s style as 
"ponderous" ; I have heard it described in a lecture as "awful" ; and 
Kylie Tennant finds it "indigestible" and thinks Furphy a "literary 
snob".* The test can only be whether the exact effects Furphy desired 
could have been obtained in any other way; I think they could not. 
For it cannot be sufficiently emphasized that Furphy had an excellent 
dramatic sense, and he keeps his so-called "ponderous" style for the 
character "Tom Collins" ; he seldom, if ever, superimposes it on the 
dialogue of the other characters. Those who have read the common 
criticisms of his style before reading the novels must get a pleasant 
surprise when early in Such is Life they come across Cooper s account 
of his upbringing, or when they read in Rigby s Romance Dixon s 
version of the story of Moses or his account of how, having read 
Jane Eyre not wisely but too well, he tried Mr Rochester s tactics in an 
, attempt to, win the affections of a lady school-teacher; and they must 
have great difficulty finding anything ponderous or wordy in a typical 
piece of dialogue like: 

"Morning, Collins. Jefferson Rigby s a friend of yours, ain t he? Any 
idea where he is?" 

"Up the river, I believe so Mrs Ferguson tells me. I expect to see him 

"Couple of ladies came to the post-office yesterday hunting him up. We 
sent them to Mrs Ferguson. So they ll be right. Horses looking a bit hairy 
on it." 

"Season s telling on them." 

"Grand dog." 


"So long." 

"So long." 

* Meanjin Papers, Spring, 1942. 



One must add, of course, that some of the finest humour in the 
novels comes from the very contrast between the pedantic speech of 
Collins and the adjectival language of the bullockies. (Incidentally, I 
hope the A. B.C. Weekly* misrepresents Furphy s biographer, Miles 
Franklin, when it reports her as saying that Tom Collins "pretends to 
write from a diary as one of the bullock drivers" \) I can remember 
nothing in Australian literature funnier than Collins s account of the 
ex-sailor s version of the perfect saddle unless it be Collins s version 
of the ex-sailor s account of the hunger of the man-o -war hawk. 
Remove the "pedantic" style and you remove the contrasts on which 
the book depends for many of its finest effects ; you do away with 
every passage like this : 

Sollicker . . . proceeded with great deliberation to interpret his oracular 
utterance ; but first, with a powerful facial exertion, he wrenched his mouth and 
nose to one side, inhaling vigorously through the lee nostril, then cleared his 
throat with the sound of a strongly-driven wood-rasp catching on an old nail, 
and sent the result whirling from his mouth at a butterfly on a stem of lignum 
sent it with such an accurate calculation of the distance of his object, the 
trajectory of his missile, and the pace of his horse, that the mucous disc smote 
the ornamental insect fair on the back, laying it out, never to rise again. 

Are we to understand that Furphy would have been a finer writer had 
he remarked merely that Sollicker spat ? 

Perhaps critics have devoted rather too much of their time to 
Furphy s beliefs and to his place in the Australian democratic tradition. 
(Vance Palmer certainly took an unnecessary risk when he put into 
the mouth of Tom Collins in a broadcast the sentiments that Collins 
attributes to Rigby.) But Furphy s technique will obviously repay 
further study. He is not to be patronised. Bernard O Dowd was 
probably quite right when, in 1916, he called Such is Life "on the 
whole our finest production of prose literature up to the present". 

[Mr. H. M. Green, as author of the Outline of Australian Literature, 
comments : 

After reading Mr. Oliver s very interesting article, may I say that some 
years ago I came to the conclusion that I had been quite wrong ; that there was 
very much more organization in Such is Life than Furphy made out? I have said 
this in lectures a number of times, and given reasons. 

On Mr. Oliver s other point, however, I hold to the opinion expressed in my 
Outline that Furphy s general style is "more than bookish ... it is ponderous, 
almost pompous", but that "this style is not allowed to affect the conversation 
of anybody but Tom Collins". Only now I would go a little further, and say 
"is seldom allowed to affect, etc."] 

* September 4, 1943. 


(A Village Blacksmith) 

He was in most respects like Chaucer s Miller, 

But add to that he was a lady-killer 

Who served one-half the town and set sighing 

The other half for the heaven of such dying. 

No sickly lecher, but a great thrust 

Of a man whose laugh went level with his lust. 

No setter of snares and about-the-bush beater, 

But a forthright hunter and a good eater 

Of all Jhe game he got. No Dapper Dan 

But a great, deep-chested, bearded, blue-eyed man 

Whose clothes smelled of the forge-smoke and the rust 

Of iron and the mingled earth-sweat dust 

Of horses, and the shavings of bright steel. 

Whose fingers knew the hammer and the feel 

Of an iron tire snug against the wood 

Of waggon-wheel. A laughing man who stood 

So proudly and so strongly on his feet, 

Women, in this Haarem of the Incompkte, 

Could not but find his their-ward bending sweet. 

And I who knew him could have let it go 

At that and mightily enjoyed the show 

Of so much force-of-life, so clean a spurt 

Of being, like a hose turned on the dirt 

That drifts on walks and cushions down the sound 

Of footsteps till the whole world is drowned 

In one great silence though a thousand walk. 

I could have thought of him as the tough stalk 

Of what might be a nettle or a rose 

As God would have Mm, or as just I chose, 

Or let him be, a modern Chaucer s Miller 

Promoted one step to a lady-killer. 

But then I learned the thing that would not fit 

My pattern of him though I d fashioned it 

With what I thought was wisdom, moulding clay * 

Into his image and feeling that the day 

Was coming when I d know him to the bone 

And dare to cut the figure out in stone. 

Once every month, always a Saturday, 

The blacksmith shop was closed with "Gone away, 

Be back on Monday", scrawled across the door. 

The wise ones winked : "You know what he s gone for 

Two hundred miles to Melbourne. She must be 

A wonder." 


That was good enough for me, 
That easy comment of the easy mind, 
Until I heard this thing that struck me blind : 

A local lad, the son of butcher Snell, 
Went off to Melbourne for a little spell 
And some chance education on the side. 
The city left him scared and stupefied 
And he sought out, as country people do, 
The blessed sanctuary of the Zoo, 
But had the wrong car number in his head 
And landed in a cemetery instead. 


He didn t mind at all. The funeral-goers 

Stood here and there in groups, heads bent like sowers 

In Bible pictures. Their unhindered tears 

Put out the burning of his city-fears, 

And joining them, although too gay his dress, 

He lost in theirs his own great loneliness, 

Sang hymns with them, and prayed, and took his share 

Of all their hearts, for grief has love to spare 

For what is lofiely, beaten and afraid. 

The last hymn sung, the final prayer prayed, 

He thanked his childhood s God for this good bread 

Though eaten at the table of the dead, 

And turned away with courage bright and new 

To find the tram that did go to the Zoo. 

That s when he saw the blacksmith standing there 
Watching the coffin lowered with a stare 
Awful in those blue eyes, a stare almost 
As if he looked upon the Holy Ghost 
Or saw some devil rising out of hell 
Though which it was a fellow couldn t tell. 
Right by the grave he stood, erect, alone, 
As though his flesh were turned to very stone 
And he would never move from there. Wait, 
Thought David Snell, or meet him at the gate ; 
One respects grief like that. 

There was no meeting 
At any gate, no hand-clasp and no greeting. 

For suddenly the blacksmith seemed to shake 
Free of his trance and David saw him take 
A handful of fresh earth and let it fall 
Gently, and then, as though he heard a call, 
Turn and walk briskly twenty yards, to where 
Another funeral group stood hushed in prayer. 



A country lad will never fail to pry 

Into a log although a snake may lie 

Coiled in that darkness. David joined the crowd. 

The blacksmith stood beside the grave unbowed, 

The great stare in his eyes and in his hand 

A bit of earth. 

So David saw him stand 

Beside four graves, and, far as David knew, 
He went on funeraling the whole day through; 
For David had seen all he cared to see 
And felt right then like sandwiches and tea 
And after that, if he could only find 
The tram, there was the Zoo. 

That made me blind, 
That story, where I saw so clearly then 
When he was simply one of Chaucer s men, 
The heavy-shouldered, armor-headed Miller 
Become a blacksmith and a lady-killer, 
A luster and a laugher but who gave 
Or found what was it ? only in a grave ! 

He was so nearly ready for the stone ! 
But since I seek his truth, and that alone, 
And since his truth is not for me to say, 
I d better throw more water on my clay ! 


Good Friday s sun is westering 

In seas of autumn gold, 

And soon comes on the Antarctic night, 

The long dark and the cold, 

The longer pain, the killing pain 
For me no Easter Day 
Will shine across the lilies 
Its heart-surprising ray. 

Ah, love is death when faith is gone 

I kissed as I betrayed; 

And my Lord is taken away 

And I know not where He is laid. 





Ask you what circumstance provokes his hate? 
The strong antipathy of small to great. 

Robert Graves s opinion of Milton is already well known: 
"monstrous Milton" he styled him in some alleged Skeltonics lauding 
Skelton. It is therefore with some feeling of doubt that one marks 
his claim, in the foreword to The Story of Marie Powell, Wife to 
Mr. Milton :* "I have tried to answer all the outstanding questions 
plausibly and fairly in the course of the narrative." And that doubt 
is confirmed by the "advertisement" on the back of the dust-cover, part 
of which runs : "Here is a sympathetic and live reconstruction, from 
hints and fragments, of a story that critics and schoolmasters have 
never dared to be quite honest about. Readers in whose ears the name 
Milton has a nightmare ring, like a school-bell chiming insistently in 
the early morning, are promised a marvellous sense of relief once 
they have read Mr. Graves s version of what really happened." We 
are, then, to be told the plain truth (according to Graves) about 
Milton, and know him for the monster he was. We shall consequently 
be no longer under any compulsion to study his works. 

As the means of attack, Graves chooses to breathe his own sour 
spirit through the mouth of one whom he cannot but portray as a 
froward wife. Now of Mary Powell we know very little else indeed. 
The facts of her relationship- with Milton are these :f she came of a 
potentially Royalist family; Milton married her in June, 1642, a 
month after their meeting; "having been used to a great House, and 
much Company and Joviality", she did not relish "a Philosophic life" 
with her husband in London ; therefore within two months he allowed 
her to visit her parents ; she did not return to him as agreed ; having 
met with contempt and a final rebuff from her family (who, it is 
suggested, began to repent having matched their eldest daughter with 
a notable Puritan) and being convinced that the marriage was a 
mistake, Milton decided to have nothing more to do with her; he 
"forthwith prepared to Fortify himself with Arguments for such a 
Resolution", the result being his two treatises of divorce, the first 
of which was published on August I, 1643; failing legitimate relief 

*Cassell & Co. Ltd., 1943. 

t See The Early Lives of Milton, Edited by Helen Darbishire, 1932 ; "Milton s 
First Marriage", by B. A. Wright (Modern Language Review, October, 1931, 
January, 1932). 



he proposed on his own responsibility to take a second wife; in distress 
for subsistence Mary returned to him, and he not only took her back 
but even received into his own house her numerous relatives, now 
ruined in the Civil War ; she bore him four children and died in 1652 
after the birth of the fourth. An impartial examiner of this record 
would feel sympathy for Milton and give him credit for justness and 
even generosity. The references in his divorce pamphlets and Paradise 
Lost to unsuitable and erring wives are necessarily to be taken as 
made to his own situation, yet the reform of the divorce laws which 
he sought to bring about, while it would have enabled him to form a 
happier alliance, was desired for the general good. 

In domestic questions, as in others, there are, of course, two sides, 
and it may be that Mary had legitimate cause of complaint against 
John ; but, even if so, Graves is hardly the one to voice it. Through 
Mary s eyes he views Milton as, from the outset of their acquaintance, 
a stern, harsh, proud, humourless precisian (basilikist Dr. Johnson s 
"acrimonious and surly Republican"), whereas in reality, as the 
testimony of his friends and relatives shows, Milton was a delightful 
companion as well as a cultivated gentleman, a lover of virtue above 
all but a lover of music and social intercourse and every other virtuous 
enjoyment also. Thus Aubrey notes that he was "of a very cheerfull 
humour ... he would be chearf ull even in his Gowte-fitts ; & sing", 
^ extreme pleasant in his conversation, & at dinner, supper &c : but 
Satyricall". Towards women he may have comported himself more 
"Satyrically" than "pleasantly". That he did not understand womfen 
is clear enough. He seems to have made an effort to bring Mary up to 
masculine level of intellect. It is noteworthy that his daughter 
Deborah, who is believed to have suffered "mental cruelty" from him, 
later bore him no ill-will and even spoke of him admiringly. 

Graves also presses while appearing to deny Belloc s falsehood 
that Milton coerced Mary as his debtor s daughter into marrying him < 
(page 207: "I had consented, upon an urgent motion from my parents, 
to wed Mr. Milton, to whom my father owed a great sum of money"), 
and he invents a repulsive story to lend colour to his wish to persuade 
us that the estrangement between husband and wife occurred on the 
marriage-night. The story is not only repulsive : it is also so 
fantastically implausible as to be almost ridiculous. Only the mind of 
a Graves could have conceived it, and it is well that he cannot resist 
overdoing the details of the fabrication, thus cheating himself of his 
abhorrent effect. 

At home in London, Milton is made to appear a domestic tyrant 
and a cruel master to the nephews he was teaching. Now there can be 



no question that in applying the rod Milton was simply following the 
admonition of Solomon, and in an age which (retrospectively) felt 
gratitude to Dr. Busby of Westminster School for the whipping-cheer 
with which his establishment abounded, Milton s discipline can hardly 
have been excessive. He was above all a just man and, according to 
the notions of his time, acted without cruelty. Each of his two 
nephews repaid him by writing an appreciative memoir. 

The Bother main charges Graves brings against Milton are: of 
avoiding military service (as though by placing his talents at the 
disposal of the Commonwealth he was not offering the best service he 
could perform!) ; of assisting, after the issue of his Areopagitica, in 
the suppression of free publication (a statement for which I can find 
no warrant) ; of changing an opinion in the course of five years ( !) ; 
the old one (discounted by Smart) of fraudulently inserting a prayer 
from the Arcadia in Eikon Basilike, an d then rating the King as 
putative author for lack of originality; last most monstrous! of 
murdering his wife. If it were possible to take action for slander on 
behalf of the dead, then, in the name of Milton, Graves as the author of 
this last unwarranted and infamous calumny should be prosecuted. 
Following seventeenth-century custom, Mary regularly produced 
children. It is only from our twentieth-century notion of family limita 
tion that we can condemn the practice. After the birth of her third 
child, Mary and Milton (as Graves would have it) were warned that 
she must bear no more or she would die. Nevertheless (Graves 
auctore) he came in unto her, and she conceived, bore and died. Now 
since, as Milton s own record, cited here in an "Epilogue", shows, 
Mary did not die till three days after giving birth to a daughter who 
lived to reach maturity, it is apparent that Mary succumbed to some 
thing like the usual child-bed fever. Had there been any danger in her 
bearing a child, she would surely not have survived her labour. 

Graves s invention it seems to be such of a* romance between 
Mary and Sir Edmund ("Mun") Verney is no doubt designed to 
draw additional sympathy towards her as one tied to an incompatible 
and overbearing mate. We may concede Graves his little bit of 

Criticism of the mode of narration is invited, especially by the use 
of the old device of the journal confidant, but it seems hardly worth 
while. Graves makes Mary attempt beyond her and his own 
strength to compass all the public events of the time as they occurred. 
Indeed, contrary to all accounts, Mary appears here as intelligent, 
educated and thoughtful above the average, with an extraordinary 



understanding of both men and books a younger sister, as it were, to 
Lucy Hutchinson. The explanation-, of course is that Graves could 
depress Milton only by exalting Mary. 

The Story of Marie Powell is monstrously unfair : indeed, to those 
who study the facts it is scarcely ever even plausible. 



Jack Grigett and John Ciggler 

are risen from the Yerd 
to stage the toughest trilling match 

the Greenwood ever heard. 

t John Ciggler takes his tambourine 

to swing upon the spray. . . . 
Shall any jigging jackanapes 

out jingle me? Fie, nay! 

Jack Grigett has his fiddle out : 

he thrums it with his thigh. . . . 
Shall a tzigany strumble-bug 

outfiddle me ? Nay, fie ! 

And so, their sap-sweet season through, 
the welkin swims in sound. 

This worthy may the day outstay ; 

and that, the nightlong round. 

Lord Phoebus of the Poplars, 

accept this meed of song ! 
Their singing bee is raised to thee, 

thy simmering summer long. 

And, when the sparrow s arrow beak 
shall void John Ciggler s belly, 

though but a shell, his wings shall still 
throb out his paean shrilly. 

And should the shrike Jack s fiddle spike 

upon some cruel thorn, 
poor Grig must click with feeble kick 

a threnody forlorn. 

Though back to mould Tiresias old 
may dwine, his accents linger. 

No wonder then the poets feign 

song aye survives the singer. 




1943 was a year of inconsistencies, contradictions, paradoxes. 
Take, to begin with, the tantalising situation in which the Australian 
writer found himself. On the one hand he knew that if he could get 
a book published prose, verse, or, to include some of the ultra- 
moderns, anything else it would sell like cigarettes. What is more, 
he knew that the publishers were well aware of this, and would be glad 
to publish anything in reason, and now and then a little beyond reason. 
And yet between the desk and the printed book there was a gulf 
greater than before the war, though not nearly so great as it had been 
a generation ago. What with lack of manpower and paper, local books 
are being held up everywhere; a leading Australian publisher had 
fifty in hand not long ago. More: the editions that it is still possible 
to bring out have to be far smaller than the demand would warrant, 
though they are still far larger than in our fathers days. 

It was another average year. There were on the whole fewer 
books worth reading, and though an outstanding poet appeared, his 
work occupied only a small part of a small booklet, and it was not 
his best work. Only one of the novels was notable, and that what 
was the matter with 1943? was withdrawn almost immediately after 
its publication. And the best of the plays was again by no means its 
author s best. 

A small quarto paper-covered booklet, with a printed title (and a 
note "No. i, July 1943", but there were no more of them during the 
year) and the* rest mimeographed, contained poems by A. D. Hope, 
Garry Lyle and Harry Hooton. Lyle had published some worth-while 
verse before ; Hooton and Hope have been seen hitherto only in periodi 
cals. Hope, a Sydney University graduate who lectures in English at 
the Sydney Teachers College, is among the leading Australian poets of 
the day; an outspoken and pitiless social satirist, he shows his hand 
here but does no more than that. Of the other books of verse and 
some of them contain better work than any in the booklet mentioned, 
though none can compare with Hope s at its best the most note 
worthy were Brian Vrepont s Beyond the Claw, F. J. H. Letters s 
The Great /Attainder and Norma Davis s Earth Cry. Vrepont is 
sixty-two years old, though one would never infer that from his 
verses ; he is, in fact, one of the leaders of the younger poets who find 
their principal outlet in Meanjin Papers and the Jindyworobak 
publications. Though he is not among our leading half dozen, Vrepont 



is sensitive to beauty and ugliness and possesses a markedly individual 
style. Letters is an academic, who belongs in many respects to a past 
literary generation ; yet he can call one of his poems "The Lovesong of 
P. Eustace Toomey", and now and then he surprises with an 
irregularity of rhythm or startles with a striking and original image, 
such as that of the 

stockman in a crowded restaurant 
Homesick for a mirage. 

And the fragment beginning "O face of carven light" is really 
beautiful. Norma Davis is a "nature" poet, and some of her poems 
are not much more than descriptions of scenery, but at her best they 
are informed by mood and personality. A pity she has not got rid of 
such romantic tags as "fay harebells blue", "elfin touch" and "pixie 

Next, a group of Meanjins and Jindyworobakians. Of two 
booklets by Ian Mudie, The Australian Dream, a longish poem of the 
type of O Dowd s The Bush, is interesting, but somehow does not 
quite get there. Mudie is disappointing; his undoubted talent so 
seldom contrives to screw itself to the sticking place. One feels much 
the same way about Paul Grano (whose Quest is his best book yet) 
and Rex Ingamells (Unknown Land and Content Are the Quiet 
Ranges}, though there is a taking whiff of tar about "Old Lag s 
Monologue", from the first of these two books. Then there is 
Flexmore Hudson (With the First Soft Rain and Indelible Voices) 
and Gina Ballantyne (Vagrant). Why is it that so many of these 
poets fail to realise the best that is in them? There is Michael 
Thwaites, whose sonorous "Milton Blind", a Newdigate Prize poem, 
stands out above the rest of his Jervis Bay and Other Poems, And 
there are a number of balladists. The war, with its primitive stresses 
and simplicities, seems to be giving a new lease of life to the ballad, 
though none of the later balladists so far seems to be establishing a 
freehold like that of the old hands. This year s best books of ballads 
are, perhaps, Charles Shaw s Warrumbungle Mare, Lex McLennan s 
The Spirit of the West and Will Lawson s Bush Verses. 

It was a poor year for fiction, but as usual there was one outstand 
ing novel. Kylie Tennant s Ride On, Stranger maf be as good, as 
anything she has written. But there is the usual catch : the book has 
been withdrawn from publication ; it is said to have cut a little too 
close to the bone, that is, to real life. Ride On, Stranger is the story 
of a girl who begins as an unwanted baby; becomes a waif, in and 
out of all sorts of overworked, underpaid occupations on the seedy 



side of Sydney ; develops unexpected ,-character, personality and all- 
round ability; and ends as a soldier s widow, running a dairy farm. 
Shannon is a queer, attractive little devil, always seeking an ideal but 
always riding on again, disillusioned. The book illustrates Kylie 
Tennant s besetting disability : there is no construction about it ; it is 
just one thing happening after another. But there is an extraordinary 
richness of events and of characters, and you might meet any of 
her people any day, if you happened to walk into his or her particular 
environment. A very real book, but more crude unorganised life about 
it than art. A second novel by the same author, Time Enough Later, 
which also deals with a girl adrift in some of the same dingy environ 
ments, is amusing but much slighter. James Aldridge s Signed with 
Their Honour belongs actually to 1942, but was not available for last 
year s summary. The subject an R.A.F. airman in a suicide fighter 
squadron trying to cover the retreat in Greece is one that would 
have suited Hemingway. And unfortunately Aldridge imitates 
Hemingway, the Hemingway of Fiesta, or, to a lesser extent, of For 
Whom the Bell Tolls. Yet Aldridge shows through his model, and 
one would have hoped he would develop a style of his own ; but in a 
later novel he seems to be Hemingwaying again. 

Only tw r o other works of fiction need be mentioned here. The 
first is In the Sun, a collection of short stories by Margaret Trist. Old 
men, children, and all who are subject to the inescapable tyranny of 
the unimaginative everyday world : these, in the main, are Margaret 
Trist s subjects. The range of her stories is narrow and her sympathy 
is sometimes a little sentimental, but her types are handled deftly, 
realistically and with humour. The second is Outback Occupations, 
by the author of the already mentioned Warrumbungle Mare. Shaw 
tells his tale in the present tense and second-personal manner ("You 
decide that things being what they are . . . you will not take the 
sheep", etc.) that was adopted by "Steele Rudd" in his last book, but 
everything else is Shaw s, and the sketches are bright and amusing. 

There were several good plays. Ned Kelly does not reach the 
standard of the later work that has set Douglas Stewart among our 
leading playwrights. There is an occasional Shavian reminiscence, 
particularly in fhe attempt to make "pointed" conversation take the 
place of action, and the argument with the bushrangers in the hotel bar 
is a little unreal. But whether the play acts well or not, it is so alive, 
so vivid, so amusing, that one can t pass it over. Dymphna Cusack s 
Morning Sacrifice represents a very great advance upon her Red Sky 
at Morning, which was mentioned here last year. That was by corn- 
US ] 


parison thin and sentimental; this is solid stuff, based on hard fact 
and detailed observation: a bitter satire that runs into tragedy. The 
characters, teachers in a girls school, are typical and yet individualised. 
The play is good enough to recall the classics on the subject, Regiment 
of Women and Mr Perrin and Mr Traill. Another play worth 
mentioning is G. L. Dann s Caroline Chisholm, which has the virtue of 
bringing a wonderful woman alive again. 

The year produced no essays or criticisms of importance, but 
Tom Moore s Six Australian Poets must be mentioned here, since 
through a lapse of memory it was omitted from last year s summary. 
O Dowd, Baylebridge, Brennan, McCrae, Neilson and FitzGerald are 
all interestingly analysed and exemplified, and in spite of a certain lack 
of construction and perspective, the book should be extremely useful 
to lovers of Australian literature. 

Of the current periodicals and regular annual anthologies there is 
little to say. Meanjin and Southerly kept up their now well established 
reputations ; nothing more need be said about the Jindyworobaks ; and 
the Ern Malley bomb had not yet burst beneath Max Harris and his 
Angry Penguins. Several new anthologies appeared, however. Aus 
tralian New Writing, No. i, is an interesting, rather tendentious 
collection, which includes some good work but omits the best of the 
younger writers. Australian Writers Speak, which should have been 
mentioned last year, is a series of wireless talks arranged by the 
Fellowship of Australian Writers. And Professor A. L. Sadler s 
Selections from Modern Japanese Writers, translations which are 
intended in the first place to help students of the language, gives also 
some insight into the curious mentality of the Japanese. 


In- the bitter pools by the shore 
the cloud rose is blooming; 
light blossoms and falls 
in errant beauty. 
Fall, flower of the high 
ocean of heaven ! 
Fall to a sunken sky, 
nightwards ebbing. 






Out of a fold in Time come silently fluttering 
Moth emblems that hint at the limits of our despair. 
Can the ten-year-old suit be invisibly mended? 
Is the college scarf the boys gave me fit to wear? 

Thus the time for a long look back comes duly, 
And O, my heart runs wide and widdershin, 
To discard the charming cravat, the too facile tenderness, 
And the evil of the world that is also the evil within. 

The agonised delight distilled from a slow movement 
By Mozart or Beethoven, when music s weird they dree, 
Not more consoling is than this disaster 
The passion-conquering sweetness of reverie. 

The Great Ones drive us on to Contemplation, 
Although in their eyes passion alone has weight, 
For this is the name for the last and greatest Crisis 
The slow Past bringing its chosen one to his Fate. 

Those who Dante banished and spirited Beatrice, 
Who thrust Villon into a harlot s arms at the gallows-pole, 
Willed that Poetry s Self in her own eyes should seem a phantom 
And conjoint be to her own buried soul. 

It is the same in the lives of the old masters, 

Mirrored in all the suffering of their desire 

The birth, the recreation is from terror, 

But nothing is violent, and burns slowly the fire. 

Out of a fold in Time come silently fluttering 
Moth emblems that hint at the limits of our despair: 
And whether it be the old tweed patched and mended, 
Or a brand-new Repatriation suit when the war has ended, 
They are ceremonial masks and silks that we wear. 

Veiled yet revealed by the curtain wait the Prompters. 
A clinging crescent of dust outlines an arrested hand, 
Stiff-edged a fold betrays the paste-board scabbard, 
And soon come the opening strains of a Saraband. 

Dancer, your feet shall move to a Ritual Measure, 

In a new technique that upholds the ancient Art. 

Dance not with your feet alone, O Destined Dancer, 

These are the steps you dreamed to dance with your head and heart. 




I must have dozed again (she said), I ve been asleep, the fire is 
dying. A habit formed in middle age, this one of dropping off to 
sleep. But then, that s all my life is, all I want. To sleep, and hear, 
and hear, and hear. . . . 

This room is mostly shadows; the only light comes from the 
embers. And it seems that all the people who ve been with me in this 
room have left their shadows here behind them, to stand and sit within 
the room. 

Facades without design they are, who come from hiding at suck 
moments as this one, who have been waiting, watching me, not 
each other, waiting for me to wake and see them, and recognise them. 
And yet, and yet, and yet. . . . 

There s one shape there that is no shadow, there s someone 
standing in the corner, a man is standing in the corner of my room 
that s been so empty. Standing there and playing Elgar. Which one 
is he of the three? Son or husband, son or husband? Or can he be 
the other one? But it s someone, strong in manhood, come to mould 
my life again. 

My voice is locked within my body, words I have but cannot say 
them. Which of the three is he, and why his silence, standing by the 
gramophone? I cannot see whether he is looking at me, or gazing out 
of the window. He knows I am here, he must know I am here. 

Whichever of the three loved music most, he will it be. And that 
is something I never knew, which of them loved it most ; from all the 
comparisons I made, no decision came. Alexander? Who listened, 
scarcely breathing, entranced with Mozart, Brahms and Elgar, his head 
laid back upon the cushion, listening and receiving with his brain, his 
heart and his whole body? Or is it Philip? Who pro-ed and conned 
it, studied style and schools, who heard each note of every instru 
ment? No, I don t think it is Philip, I don t think it is Alexander. 
I think that it is Ken, who listened with his eyes wide open, his heart 
wide open too, hearing with delight that climbed to ecstasy, the music 
of Delius, Bliss and Elgar. 

This is Elgar, Alexander said, but I don t know whether you 
will like him, and I sat beside him on the couch, yes, I like it/ 1 said, 
I do like it, watching his nose, his mouth and his eyes staring at the 
gramophone. Even though I can scarcely bear to hear it, like this, so 
near to Alexander, but still so far from him, I like it, I am trying to 
like it. 



This is Elgar, I said to Philip, you probably won t like him, 
saying it because I hated him for his cold eyes and upcurled lip. But 
I think it is great music, I said, and he looked back at me with his cold 
eyes narrowed. The London Symphony Orchestra, I said, my own 
gaze resentful, but faltering. Conducted by Elgar himself, I said. 

Is it the man who wrote God Save the King? Ken said. Not 
exactly, my darling, you must listen, listen to, listen, my son, come 
from the corner, Ken, come from the darkness to the firelight, come to 
where I am and stay with me where I am, my son. 

Sitting with Alexander long ago, his hand warm round mine, I 
will turn the record over, I said, but his hand was tight round mine, 
with the rain smashing on the window, yes, I said, yes, I will marry 
you, and then for the first time he kissed me, my hand burning inside 
his, and the needle going slick, slick, slick, slick. . . . 

And there was that other night in the mountains, Philip staring 
at me, I won t, I won t, I ll hate him always, I said, while the wind 
shrieked round the verandah. But he knew I would, he waited because 
he knew I would. And at the end of the second movement, not 
changing needles then, sitting there and staring at me, I staring at 
the fire, the needle saying slick, slick, slick, slick, I knew that no 
longer would I say I won t, he knew it too, arid turned the record over. 
Philip, have you come again to watch me, depth my soul and find my 
secrets, hidden in the folded years? Philip, I do not want it, I ve been 
too long lonely, too long one only. 

In my lap my son was sleeping, one soft arm tucked underneath 
him, the other hanging to the floor. I wouldn t wake him, it was the 
end of the second movement, the needle going slick, slick, slick, slick, 
hollow roaring down the chimney, the fire scattering, leaping, and my 
son Ken sleeping: 

I -was so proud of him, the tears were forming in my eyes, the 
leader of the orchestra appearing, the people clapping desultorily. Who 
are those charming people? we heard them say behind us. It s the 
Ramsays, they whispered behind us, it really is a brillfent match, two 
old established families. They re called the ideal couple, so much in 
love with one another. The suffocating happiness, as we listened to the 
music, our hands lying lightly on our knees, our knuckles touching, 
listening to England s music. Alexander, Alexander, hold my hand in 
yours again, never let it go again, and we will live again together, in 
everlasting music. 

Not proudly, but coldly, I walked with Philip up the stairs, 
perhaps proud of him, I don t know, yes, proud of him, I think, but 



hating him and hated by him. The cynosure of all eyes, they said next 
day, Mrs Ramsay and an unidentified escort. Certainly proud of my 
own beauty, proud of him for his, but never proud of the two of us 
together. Glad to have him free my cloak as we sat on red plush 
chairs. It s Mrs Ramsay, they said behind me, she was a famous 
socialite, but hasn t been seen at concerts for over seven years. 

They whispered in the seats behind us, talking of Ken and me. 
Her husband died a long time back, when this lad was only three. We 
waited, Ken and I, as the conductor raised his baton, and we heard 
the welcome sounds of Elgar, the flood of English music, Ken upright 
in his red plush chair, and I reflected in his beauty. Among those 
present was Mrs Ramsay, with her son on first term holidays. That s 
what they said in the next day s paper. So proud of Ken that evening, 
his love of music quickly forming, but Ken, come away from the 
gramophone, come near and let me see you. 

Good-bye, said Alexander, I cannot hear it all, they re waiting for 
me at the junction. I ll write you every day, he said, and off he went 
in the cool dark evening, quickly hidden by the peppercorn tree. But 
he never came back, not in December as we planned it, never came 
back to hear new music. Alexander, Alexander, we ll begin our life 
again ; with sensibilities rekindled, we ll begin our love again. But he s 
waiting, playing Elgar, in the shadows by the piano. 

Turn the damned thing off, Philip said, stop the bloody music ! 
And both our hatreds flashed and fused, and we knew the affair was 
ended. If I should leave this room, he said, I ll never come back 
again. I do not want you to, I said, I m, glad that it is over. And so he 
went in anger, but left alone within the room I felt my anger leave me. 
I knew I loved him after all, Philip the waster, cheat and cynic, I 
loved him through it all. But not again to live a life of passions, 
torments, tantrums. I do not want all that again ; I ve grown too old 
to be known too well. 

I can t stay any longer, mother, I ll miss my train, Ken ^said, and 
drawing on his greatcoat, he kissed me for the last time. I might get 
leave again, he said, we ll just say au revoir. But I knew that he was 
going, to be swallowed by the war, and never come back, never come 
back. . . . 

But he has come back, to fill my life again with love, Ken, come 
all the way, come all the way, don t stand ghostly in the corner, come 
and tell me where you ve been, and tomorrow we will play it all, all of 
Elgar and the others, the noble English music. 

1 33] 


And from the darkest corner of the room came the voice that she 
had waited for. "And so concludes our programme", it said, "of music 
by English composers/ 

She stood up, stood weakly, then turned on the light.- The glare of 
it hit her eyes and made them ache. She went out of the room and into 
the hallway ; she leaned over the staircase, hanging to it, and called to 
the woman in the flat below. 

"Mrs Harrison", she called, "Mrs Harrison, are you still up?" 

Her own voice frightened her when it hit the walls around the 
staircase, and echoed back at her derisively. She listened, but she could 
hear nothing. 

"Mrs Harrison?" she called again, desperately this time, going 
down a few steps. 

Then she heard footsteps, a door opened and an angled shape of 
light appeared on the landing below. The enormous bulk of her 
neighbour appeared. 

"Is that you, Mrs Ramsay?" 

"Yes", she said, "I thought you d gone to bed. I wondered if 
you d feel like having a cup of tea?" 

"You come and have a cup with me", Mrs Harrison said, "I ve 
got my kettle boiling." 

"Oh thank you", said Mrs Ramsay. 

She followed her neighbour into the flat that she had described so 
often and so well in letters to her family in Scotland, the hideous 
furniture, the old-fashioned photographs of Mrs Harrison s family, 
the china animals on the mantelpiece, on the bookcase and on the ugly 
little tables. But tonight it was different, it was warm in here in this 
overcrowded room, and she liked it. 

They sipped their tea and nibbled biscuits. 

"I heard you playing your gramophone", Mrs Harrison said. 

"No, I wasn t", said Mrs Ramsay, "tonight it was the wireless." 




Heaven is a busy place. 
Those in a state of grace 
Continually twanging the harp. 
And Court at eight-thirty sharp. 
Did he do ill or well, 
Shall he be sent to hell 
That scoundrel in the dock? 
The great black Judgment Book 
Says little good of him : 
Weeping of seraphim. 

Twanging the harp and mourning. 
Three more, a score fer burning, 
And always, if not the best, 
Those of most interest . . . 
And then the deputations 
Bishops for their congregations, 
Relations and friends of cherubs, 
Mahomet and all those Arabs . . . 
Arrival, with knocking knees, 
Of sixty thousand Chinese. 

The incessant tinkle of strings. 

And rain for Alice Springs 

Now seven years in arrears. 

Such multifarious cares, 

Sparrows to be watched as they fall, 

Elephants, ants and all 

To the egg of the frog in the slime. 

Then wind up the clock of time, 

Douse the red sun in the deep, 

Put the cat on the moon, and sleep. 

Sir, I would make my petition : 

Love, and fulfilled ambition, 

Some friends to be partly protected, 

Some enemies grossly afflicted, 

And, if I rise no higher, 

A place at least by the fire. 

But earth is a busy planet 

And, failing the, timely minute, 

I found it best to postpone, 

Do as well as I could on my own. 



Now I have found a place 
Where in their twisted grace 
Soft-footed mangroves glide, 
Fishing the green of the tide 
With net and club and spear ; 
And all is so silent here, 
Lying by the gumtree s root 
I hear a beetle s foot 
Loud as a midnight thief 
Crash on a fallen leaf. 

If in the heavenly clime 

They share such gaps in time, 

Here if ever is the place 

And the chance to state one s case. 

But I must return a favour. 

Life has a lovely flavour 

And now there is time to waste 

Now there is time to taste 

(I think I shall not intrude) 

Heaven is finding it good. 



The rose that leans its chin 
Upon a curving leaf 
And looks across the land 
Knows not my grief ; 

The slug that frets the leaf 
Blindly with mincing jaw 
Obeys its life s command : 

Each has a law 
Within it and is free 
Of my hard liberty. 

Nature is sleep : 
Beyond that sleep I press 
Half -roused, yet c annot leap 
To wakefulness. 




By J. McGuiRE 

My mother had been harping on the^ buying of the big house for 
as long as I could remember, but she was a strong woman, and when 
at, last she had got my father as far as the ponderous wrought iron 
gates she gave way to no provisional elation but carried straight on 
with impetus enough for the whole family. The wicket gate had not 
been opened for years and my father had to use considerable force 
to open it agaSnst the clinging weeds and creeper, but his part in 
making the entry remained menial and insignificant. My mother 
sailed through first. I came last, very much alive with an interest 
which I had to conceal out of loyalty to my father. 

"The lawns" ! said my mother, pointing as though to the scene of 
an earthquake. 

"Is that lawn?" said father. "Looks like a paddock of barley to 

"The shame of it ! To think that this lawn was a billiard table 
ten years ago. Look at it. It s . . . it s abominable. They don t 
care, you see. Nobody cares. Nobody cares these days." 

"I certainly wouldn t care to be mowing this lawn", said my 
fatheV. "There s two acres if there s a perch or a rood or whatever 
it is." 

"There s a caretaker, and a gardener. There used to be two 
gardeners. They did it all." 

My mother knew all about the place because it had been her father s 
house. She had been born in it, and reared in it ; but she had not 
been courted in it. My father had come from smaller surroundings 
and she had married him after the decline of her family fortune. 
The house had been let for years after they had left it and then sold 
for a relative song to a speculator who had been prevented for some 
reason from doing anything with it. By now it had been empty for 
years, the "for sale" notice now weathered and hanging brokenly on 
its post. My mother knew, as few people these days know, just how 
to live in a big house, how to run it, decorate it and behave in it. Her 
running of and decorating and behaving in our own house had been a 
purely tentative gesture for year after year. 

"The magnolias", she said. "Just look !" 

"Hmm. Big trees. Run to wood a bit by the look of it." 



We trailed along the wide and weedy drive. The ornaments of 
the garden, the raised pools and plaster figures and pergolas were 
all overgrown by the competing creepers and shrubs and weeds. 

"The house hasn t changed though", my mother observed when 
w r e came in full sight of the incredibly large mansion. The house 
was indeed an imposing building. Of course I had seen it many times 
before, with other school children had played in these grounds in 
preference to any other playground, but I had never seen it as a 
potential, even remotely potential, tenant, and so saw it really for the 
first time this day. It was grey unadorned stone, severe in line but 
liberal in size; my grandfather s face was severe and vet liberal, too, 
I remembered that. 

"That house will never change, never. Never grow old", she 

"Make a good lunatic asylum", said my father, but not quite 
loudly enough to be heard even had she been listening. 

"The Virginia s up into the guttering, though. That will have 
to be got down. The sooner, the better, too." 

We passed onto the flagged patio leading to the mighty front 
doors. My mother tried the doors as though daring them to be locked, 
but they were, and so she led on to the windows further along. We 
all looked through the windows in turn, working around the perimeter 
of the ground floor. The function and internal disposition and some 
of the history of each of the rooms were related to us by mother in 
a voice trained to show no sign of nostalgic emotion. Dust, cobwebs 
and spaciousness were the principal features of all the rooms. A wall 
put an end to our circumnavigation. 

"Come. We ll find the caretaker and get the keys. There s a 
gate further along this wall. If we can find it in this jungle. Really 
I don t know what this caretaker does. The lantana, look at it !" 

We found the gate and opened it. Then we learnt what the 
\ caretaker had been doing. A quarter acre of meticulously cared-for 
vegetable garden greeted our eyes. That is, it greeted my eyes and 
my father s. It offended my mother s. 

"This is how he spends his time. Stuff for himself, and lets the 
rest of the place run wild." 

"Good luck to him", said my father. 

"He s paid to look after the property, not himself." She led us 
briskly through the rows of cabbages and cauliflowers towards the 
large barn-like building at the far end of the plot. Smoke was coming 
from a chimney reaching high above the slate roof. An open door, 
a barrow and gardening tools near by suggested an imminent presence. 



My father began to lag a little as we neared the open door, and my 
mother reached it well ahead of us. 

"Hulloo", she called. "Is anybody here?" Nobody answered, 
and she turned back to us as we came up. "There s nobody here. 
Nobody home, it seems." 

"Can t be far off. There s a fire burning inside, somewhere/ 

"They ve plenty of wood. They ve cut down the jacarandas. 
Probably out for an afternoon s drinking." 

"Man who looks after this doesn t drink much, I reckon." 

"Hullo! Benson! Are you in there, Benson?" There was no 
response. "Either he s not there or he s asleep. Benson always was 
a great sleeper. We ll go in and see." She pushed the door wider 
and went in, beckoning to us to follow. 

"I say, there might be somebody in there", said my father. 

"That s just what I m going to find out." 

"Hang it all, this is somebody s house. I mean, after all, the 
fellow lives here." 

"Were not burgling the place, are we? Wait here, then." 

"I wish, I only wish", said my father, "I just wish I had your 
colossal hide, that s all I wish. We d be making ten thousand a year." 

"I wish you did, too", said my mother and went inside. 

"Can you beat it!" said my father to himself. "She just pushes 
her great frame in anywhere. I don t like this. This sort of thing puts 
me on edge. I m getting out of this." 

The sound of a latch lifting caused us to turn around. A gate 
in another wall past the barn opened and through it came a middle- 
aged man and a young woman. The man saw us first and came 
forward alertly, leaving the girl to shut the gate. My father shufHed 
childishly and looked around uneasily at the barn door through which 
mother had gone. The man came right up to us with a slight frown 
on his brow. 

"Good day", he said to my father. "What can I do for you?" 

"Good afternoon. We er 

My mother emerged from the door and took over promptly. 

"Ah ? there you are. I thought you couldn t be far away. I see 
you ve got your dinner ready. But you re not Benson. Where s 
Benson? 1 

"Benson. Oh, Benson s dead. He died about fourteen months 
ago. His brother died. His brother was younger than him and when 
he died it set old Benson off. He was as right as a bank until . . ." 
He halted himself under my mother s incinerating stare. "Did you 
want to see Benson, did you ?" 



"I want to find somebody who s supposed to be looking after this 
place. And I want a key to get into the house." 

"Ah ! Well, I haven t got the keys. You see, the keys used to be 
here, but when the old feller died I said to the agent that I didn Uwant 
no responsibility about the keys and he took em back. I didn t want 
the responsibility of the house, if you see what I mean." 

"Yes, I see perfectly well what you mean. I ve never seen a 
place so neglected in my life." 

My father winced and allowed his eyes to follow the young 
woman as she passed us and entered the barn. He looked wistfully 
at the door which she closed behind her. 

"Ar, there s not much anyone could do about the front of the 
place", said the man without emotion. "Not now, anyway, not without 
a lot of labour. Benson didn t do much the last few years y know. 
I myself, I do a bit around the back here. Just this little patch 
keeps me quiet week in and week out." 

"I suppose you sell the stuff?" 

"No, not much. Not unless anyone wants something, or I ve got 
a bit of a surplus. No, this little patch keeps me and me niece going 
just nicely." 

"Your niece! Well, how do you come to be here? What s your 

"My name s Millikan. I used to work here off and on when the 
old Hillarys had the place. It was some place then. Four gardeners 
at times they had then. The garden was a picture, every inch of it. 
Course I was only a young feller then. Then when old Benson was 
findin it a bit lonely and a bit too much for im, I come to a bit of an 
arrangement with him. With im, not the agent. I ve got an 
arrangement with the agent now, though, of course. Not about the 
keys, though. You ll have to see him about the keys." 

My mother had lost interest. "I suppose you sell the magnolias, 
then ?" she said, seemingly determined to find something the man 

"No. Not the magnolias. Nobody wants them these days. I sell 
the tulips, though. There s some pretty fancy bulbs in this place if 
you know where to look around." 

"The Grenadier Tulips. Uh ! is everybody getting those now?" 

"Yes, I sell a lot. There s plenty of them." 

"Yes, I know there are plenty of them. Well, now, since you 
haven t got the keys we ll go and get them and come later on." 



"This is your quickest way", said the man. "Through the back 
gate. Quickest way out of ere; quickest way to the agent. Tell im 
I sent you. Do you know the way from here?" 

"Yes, I know the way", said my mother preparing to move. 

"You know?" said the man, moving back and lookin| at her 
more directly. "I think I ve met you somewhere. I ve just got a 
feeling, y know. I m sure I must ve met you somewhere or other. 
I don t know where it could ve been, but somewhere. . . ." 

My mother turned to us with a signal and then made for the gate 
very quickly. She opened it. Father shut it. When we caught up 
with her she was spitting out the words : "Met me ! Met me !" 

Father looked at me and grinned. We were not going to the 
agent s. 


In obedience, to a Government order, Southerly, along with certain 
other periodicals, is now issued on newsprint. An exception was made 
for the MacCallum Number, and for this we express our thanks to 
the Controller of Paper. How long the shortage of better material 
will continue it is impossible to say, but we hope that supplies will 
be made available, at the earliest possible moment to such publications 
as Southerly. 

As it was desirable that the MacCallum Number should appear 
in September, near the second anniversary of Sir Mungo s death, that 
number was given precedence over the present one and the McKellar 
Number, which was intended to be the second of the year but will now 
be the fourth. It is hoped that no confusion was caused by the 
rearrangement, and that contributors will looked indulgently on the 
delay in publication of their work. 




Barjai: A Meeting Place for Youth. Edited by Laurence Collinson and 
Barrie G.IReid. Numbers 12, 13, 14 and 15. (Box 1773 W, G.P.O., Brisbane. 
7s. 6d. a year.) 

Angry Penguins. Edited by Max Harris and John Reed. Autumn, 1944. 
(Reed and Harris, Melbourne. 43. 6d.) 

Barjai is a result of that assertion of youth which developed from the Great 
Depression ; it is the voice of adolescence, clamant for a share in the control of 
its own destinies and of the world. 

An attempt is being made in the pages of this magazine to present 
Youth s statement of its reactions to life. . . . 

The critic will find in these pages little of that humour and carefree 
exuberance of spirit so often attributed to Youth. Perh^aps this is regrettable, 
but there can be little humour left in minds born during depression and 
growing to maturity in war. (Editorial No. 12.) 

But the editors become almost at once appalled by the gloomy prospect they 
have conjured up for themselves. Collinson in "Song of Youth" cries: 

We must have laughter, 
and after a lugubrious catalogue of woes ends up: 

We must learn to laugh. 

So, too, Reid, in "Struggle", finishes a longish poem with : 
Come laughter and surge the sea of me. 

Laughter, alas! does not come often enough. There are hints that it might 
be moved in Mary Wilkinson s prize story "Sunday Afternoon" (No. 15), which 
gives a simple sketch of suburbia with feminine attention to detail. Thea 
Astley s little essay "Poetic Fire" (No. 13) has touches of humour, as has Cecel 
Knopke s poem "Of Myself" (No. 14). In the same number, Moriet D Ombrain, 
in "Who Has Seen ?", catches something of a Gaelic spirit of romance and fancy, 
and Laurence Collinson, finally, proves his versatility by writing in lighter vein 
"For the Amusement of Margaret" and a short clerihew with the long title "The 
Young Lady and the Oedipus Complex". But these flashes. of youthful exuber 
ance are rare, and the serious and even pessimistic tone is dominant in Barjai. 

There is a certain humility, or at any rate lack of arrogance in these Barjai 
papers that I like very much. It is especially noticeable in the prose. Thus, 
Collinson in "Letters to Modern Poets T. S. Eliot" (No. 12) writes with 
evident sincerity of appreciation and goes on : "I imagine I shall have to wait a 
year or two before I understand it [The Waste Land] fully." Equally simple 
and sincere is the work of his co-editor in reviewing a number of modern poets 
and The Vegetative Eye in "Modern Reading" (No. 13). Profound judgment 
is not expected of such youthful critics, and sincerity is an excellent substitute. 

Barjai s poetry is its biggest and best feature. If it is symptomatic of the 
poetry of the future, then there is some hope jEor the latter. True, like most 
youthful poetry (all its writers are under twenty-one and most much under 
that age), it inclines to seriousness and even despair. But it has many good 
qualities. It has meaning and point. It can be passionate, as in Barrie Reid s 
"These Leaden Weights" (No. 13), in its call to youth for action against control 
by elders. 

We can no more allow the warped wills of old men 
To fashion for us the future. It is ours. 
Cast off the leaden weights that make the drab decrees. 
Climb the high heart s wall and cry out Action. 



It voices regret for the misunderstandings and enmities of men who should be 
brothers ; it is puzzled that the simple logic of peaceful living has not been 
mastered by men. What Barrie Reid expresses in prose in his short "Against 
Oblivion" (No. 15) is repeated in substance by Louis H. Clark (A.I.F.) in 
"This Peace?" (No. 15) : 

Victory without a lasting- Peace is War; 
A germ filled sore that poisons up again, 
Once more its core, its cancerous filthy core, 
Is but one thing the distrusting of men! 

It has some acute observation of the modern social scene, for example, in Rona 
Reid s little "Jitterbugs" and Berry McFarlane s "Maroubra". 

The general picture of gloom and depression is occasionally relieved, as in 
Cecel Knopkes "Two Sonnets" (No. 13), which are reflectively sentimental in 
tone, though they conclude : 

. . . Something reminds 
Me always of the sorrows of the world. 

or in Norma Graff s "Desire" (No. 14), which is unrestrainedly zestfui and 
mounts to a grateful climax : 

I want . . . 

To thank my God that I am here. 

These young poets of Barjai deserve every encouragement. They are mostly 
skilful in the handling .of words ; they give little evidence of the truculent chal 
lenge, of the bluster of inexperience, which disfigure so much youthful writing 
elsewhere. If their note is generally serious and pessimistic and deficient in the 
saving grace of humour, the circumstances of its production have given it by way 
of compensation a certain austere effectiveness, a form and discipline that are 
welcome signs. Let us hope that the editorial pronouncement in No. 13, "A little 
experimentation would not be out of place", will not be too liberally interpreted. 
The Autumn Number of Angry Penguins is specially commemorative "of the 
Australian poet Ern Malley". Sidney Nolan supplies a distinctive cover illus 
trative of two texts from the more idiotically meaningless lines of the posthumous 
masterpiece "The Darkening Ecliptic" : 

I said to my love (who is living) 
Dear we shall never be that verb 
Perched on the sole Arabian Tree, 

(Here the peacock blinks the eyes 
of his multipennate tail). 

("Petit Testament.") 

Yet there is something about this painting, with its richness and delicacy of 
colouring, that appeals to me despite certain obvious crudities in its execution 
no less than in its conception. This appeal is much the same as that which 
Dobell s controversial paintings have for many freakish art redeemed by a glory 
of colour. To "Ern Malley" thirty-five pages are devoted. The core is a 
manuscript of sixteen poems, "The Darkening Ecliptic", and it is buttressed fore 
and aft fore, by Mr. Harris s introduction explaining the circumstances of the 
discovery of the.Jnew Australian poet, with biographical particulars, and a 
preparatory statement of the author s principles to which Mr. Harris supplies 
a running commentary ; aft, by a prose "Elegiac" and a poetic "Biography" by 
(does it surprise you?) Mr. Harris an impenetrable jungle of words. These 
are specimens from the two last named: 

the long golden dirndl swept with the rhythms of sin 
about the purple sex of the penultimate mountain ranges. 



S O U T H E R L Y 

I am deciphered by the black waters, 
union, and terrorist surge avid in my fields. 


At the end of "Petit Testament" ("the mighty i6th poem", as Mr. Harris 
calls it) comes the mighty climax*: 

There is a moment when the pelvis 
Explodes like a grenade . . . 

I have split the infinite. Beyond is anything. 

Actually, as we now know, what was beyond was nothing, for the story of Ern 
Malley was soon revealed as a complete and audacious literary hoax. The 
poems of Ern Malley represent a conspiracy by two young Sydney poetasters 
to debunk the pretensions of Mr. Harris and his Angry Penguins. I feel sorry 
for Mr. Harris, and I don t like the method by which his humiliation was effected. 
It is his weakness that he lacks a satisfactory poetical or even critical canon by 
which to direct his work, but that is a fault shared by many of the poets and 
writers of his generation. Mr. Harris, acting in accordance with his own beliefs, 
had every reason to accept the work of Ern Malley, as a supreme example of 
his unusual principles. The deception is the more to be deplored as there are 
scattered throughout the poems sufficient phrases of poetic quality to ensure its 
acceptance. Phrases like: 

Cool as spreading fern ("Sonnets for the Novachord"), 

The Black swan of trespass on alien waters ("Durer: Innsbruck, 1495"), 

tangents to the rainbow ("Palinode"), and 

wreathed in dying garlands ("Perspective Lovesong") 
are rich bait to deck a trap withal. 

Mr. Harris is not to blame for all the crazy art of a crazy age : he is simply 
one of its protagonists. Indeed, he would have been untrue to his own queer 
ideals if he had refused to accept the specimens offered. So that, in the ultimate 
analysis, he has my sympathy, and. the debunkers add nothing, to their stature 
either as poets or as individuals. In the history of literature great and even 
famous figures have fallen victims to hoaxes and have lost nothing by it. 

Even without the contributions of the supposititious Ern Malley, there is 
a substantial body of prose and poetry in this Angry Penguins. The prose is 
infinitely better than the poetry because it is food of the consciousness and not 
vomit of the subliminal. There are two short stories in the naturalistic 
idiom of the day. Peter Cowan s "The Fence" is plainly written about 
a fencing jobber, a girl, and a brother who misjudged the intimacy of their 
relations, with a few appropriate swear-words and an otherwise tame ending. 
Dal Stivens has "You Call me by My Proper Name" in the same muddy manner, 
with a much braver showing of bad language than Mr. Cowan. Like so many of 
its type, it is episodic, having neither beginning nor end and no proper explana 
tion of the middle. 

"Has Australian Aboriginal Art a Future?", by Leonhard Adam, is interest 
ing and gives good illustrations of aboriginal art. Gordon Thomson s "Criticism 
and Conveyance" is not very profound, but his plea for some positive meaning- 
fulness of aesthetic is not inept. More thoughtful is Hugh Philp s "Surrealism 
Cannot be Art", which shows a good sense of critical, criteria and exposes the 
Freudian fallacy in attempting the representation of the unconscious in art. The 
controversy on Albert Tucker s "Conceptual Art" is continued in two polemical 
articles which seem oddly out of place in a literary journal, as does Tucker s 
"The Flea and the Elephant", which pleads that art should be free from political 
bias or influence. 



The review by John Reed of Australian Present-Day Art offers the comical 
spectacle of the blind leading the blind, yet it is clear and explicit. When an added 
weight of years has brought the editors of Angry Penguins wisdom and 
experience, they may chuckle at their own premature cocksureness. It is to their 
credit in the prose sections, at least, that they allow an uncontradicted presenta 
tion of viewpoints differing from their own. 

The "Poetry" of Angry Penguins is for the most part the greatest farrago 
of meaningless drivel and self-leg-pulling nonsense it has been my misfortune to 
read. It made me feel much as Douglas Jerrold did when on a sick bed he 
attempted to read Browning s Sordello. I am happy and relieved to realise 
now that the weakness is not in my brain. 

The contributions begin with half a dozen poems, nearly 400 lines in all, 
by Max Harris. "Birdsong" starts the collection and gives the keynote nicely: 

The bird that turns my feathers iron 

my vitals felon, and charismatic violence 

this proud duress my universe. . . . 
Equally clear and inspiring is the final couplet : 

The birds that blossom their veiled wombs 

sleep gently on the dead folds of these thoughts. 
From "The Legend of the Little Death" we have : 

The snake that dwelt on the brown girl s loins 

sleered off with a human cry 

for the public dust was now aureate fire 

on burning earth, in aching sky. 

Here an inserted corrigendum slip explains that "public" should read "pubic". 
Well! "Poem for a Tourney", the magnum opus, spins some 260 lines of 
similar what-shall-we-call-it. My free service tip to the author is to learn 

The post of honour next to Mr. Harris is awarded to Arthur Davies, who 
attempts a modernised version of the life of Christ in some 350 lines, made up of 
"Holy Background" and eight parts. It opens with grandiloquent catholicity of 
invitation : 

Attend, all drunkards, sluts and liars, 
pimps, kleptomaniacs, parasites, teasers, 
cheats, fakes, loafers, flash and seedy; 
Here was the setting of Joshua s life. 

Throughout, he favours the categorical inventory method to suggest the vast 
range of his thought, and the more progressive narrative sections between these 
compendious catalogues must be read to be believed. Bernard Smith s 
"Triumphant Elegy" is three parts a retrospect of misery in history, and is very 
vague about the triumph, but it is not _ unpromising work. Geoffrey Dutton, 
described in the Who s Who of contributors as a "handsome and devastating 
hunk of airman", produces a very unhandsome but certainly devastating piece 
called "Pity for Man", which starts lucidly : 

Brought to the background of a slack Sunday, 

I*ove last weeks no redeemer. 

Alister Kershaw, "vigorous, violent and witty as personality", writes "Fighter 
Pilot" a short elegiac for Richard Hillary, with the noble exordium : 
How govern, murder of the loyal miles, measure 
With final agonies, certain e*xcuses in the heart? 

How Hubert Withe ford got his "Poem" in here remains a mystery, for it has 
a coherence and a meaning that put it outside the charmed circle of the hiero- 
phants. A little oasis in a dreary desert. Colin Thiele, too, in his " One Failed 



to Return ", and "The Passing" reveals a power of striking imagery and a 
sense of symbols,* besides showing something of meaning and clear purpose. 
Barrie Reid and Laurence Collinson, editors of Barjai, give further demonstra 
tions of adolescent precocity. It is a pity to see youths with a clear gift of words 
throw their seed on barren ground, and ape adulthood by pretending to an 
impossible experience. 

Erik Schwimmer, an ingenuous Netherlander, writes a poem with a title 
nearly as long as itself to cover some point (of Euclidean dimensions) he is 
making. Roy Leaney, who we are told has a "weak stomach but curious syntax" 1 , 
supplies "Pyramid of Vine", a poem so characteristic of the A. P. manner that 
I am constrained to quote the first stanza : 

Will the dribbling- moon kill me now? 

The moon that once gave 

human dense and try 

for fine 

there seaweed caught in my cuff 

released from wet 

to sprinkle with sanded ego: 

then shadows 

cut geometrically spheroid 

fine tissue like nerve was bent. 

Surely not a weak stomach ? The conviction that there must be a mistake in 
this statement is strengthened by a reading of his second poem, "The World This 
Distension of Mine". Frank Kellaway, who "can recite his work verbatim in 
Chinese cafe s" (what have the Chinese done to deserve this?), contributes a 
lengthy "Strange Wisdom of the North", which, despite its indefiniteness and 
lack of precise outline, seems sincere enough, and might be distinctly moving if 
done in a simpler manner. More promise and added meaning are evident in 
James Paxton s three offerings, with their softened symbolism. 

The American contributors are mostly, if not all, servicemen. First comes 
Harry Roskolenko, who brings a fresh breath from the sea in three poems of 
somewhat wearying rhythm. Walter Heiby has two brief poems. Let him 
speak for himself. The lines are the first half of "Organ Green": 

I mated pain . . . 

conceived some words 

upon the crags of my mind s hell. 

There was a horrible gestation, 

and now the bastard for what it is 

herewith in anguish vomited: 

Either international goodwill can be stretched too far or there may be more 
hoaxers than Ern Malley. Harlan Crippen croaks hoarsely of Spain and hints 
at vengeance in "Geography". He then writes a provoking title "Lines for a 
Lost Lady with Lavender Hair", and with this much achieved promptly dismisses 
the subject : 

Tell me, did you not hear of Spain? 

Or were you not warned 

when the letter sent to Munich 

was delivered in Madrid and Prague, 

with heavy postscripts, 

the death in Paris, 

the fire in London? 

Jan Brevet may have his tongue in his cheek in making his offerings, "Poem" 
and "Still World, Weep Still", in which the editors find a "curious Miltonic 

I 46 ] 


idiom, rare in contemporary poetry". Finally, we seem to catch the authentic 
A. P. note in the "First Furrowing" of Vincent Ferrini, "brilliant left-wing poet" : 
Buses gulped and puked them. 
Like bullets out of a gangster s gat the people 
Bore home hated home loved home stabbed home. 

Here it is again in the second stanza of "Testament" : 

This living thumps a hollow bell of agony 

Icebergs of workers jaws 

Narrow with hunger 

Their veins trampled by want 

I walk in your body 

Secure in the only country I have 

As the people nomadize upon this eggshell. 

H. L. McLosKEY. 


The Vegetative Eye, by Max Harris. (Reed and Harris, Melbourne, 1943, 
us. 6d.) 

Max Harris s first novel, The Vegetative Eye, has been almost universally 
condemned by its critics which seems just, in view of the book s abstruseness 
and other repellent qualities. It is a destructive, morbid piece of work, and its 
author shows to his audience even more indifference than does the Blake of the 
Prophetic Books, without having Blake s virtues as a writer and a mystic. Yet, 
tempted as the -reader may be to banish this experiment as a work that could 
have been written equally well by an Ern Malley,* he must examine its genesis 
if he wishes to assess it as literature. 

Harris s debt to his most interesting influence, Blake, will be spoken of later. 
Immediately, his book is a deliberate expression of the cult of the "modern 
metaphysical school", the New Apocalypse. Supported by such writers as G. S. 
Fraser, J. F. Hendry, Henry Treece and Nicholas Moore, this movement is said 
to derive from Pound and Eliot through Freud and the surrealists, and it looks 
to Fiianz Kafka as its first modern exponent. It is defined as a "dialectical 
development of surrealism" and asserts the right, denied by surrealism, of 
controlling and selecting the material offered by the subconscious. Since no man 
(except perhaps a psychoanalyst) can know any subconscious but his own, the 
art of the Apocalyptics is purely subjective, interpreting the artist in his relation 
ship to society, seeking subjective truth through the "immediately experienced 
particular". To express this truth, allegory or some personal "myth" is usually 

As early as 1941 Max Harris predicted that the novel would develop along 
the lines of the allegory, that art would approach more closely to "the dark 
forces of the unconscious that produce it". And, consistent with his own artistic 
beliefs, he wrote The Vegetative Eye, which he describes as "an unravelling of 
the emotional, imaginative and intellectual elements of experience . . . essentially 
personal and non-fictional in its reference". Perhaps the adoption of the purely 
subjective method required as much courage as vanity in the author; but in the 
result his attempt to record and analyse his own thoughts, feelings and hidden 

* Poeta australiensis, fictus (see page 43). Editor. 



desires in relation to love (or rather, to the libido) is both confusing and 
confused. From the maze there emerges, if the reader perseveres, a picture of 
an objectionable young man, posturing and petulant, who is unable to get any 
joy from life because he is too egocentric to give anything in return. He tells 
of the fall from the child state of innocence, the awakening of adolescent desire, 
the affair with a girl whom he does not love until her "charming indifference" 
shows he has lost her, the mental anguish in which he longs to be the Byronic 
hero who refuses to be bound by his loves, yet yearns for the self-forgetfulness 
in love which he is incapable of achieving, the elopement with the girl, his 
rejection of her, and his final realization of himself as a human being. The 
girl Jeannie, her brother Jack, the personage Hans (who is both vital impulse 
and cynical destroyer) are, as well as most of the other incidental characters 
in the book, all facets of Harris s own personality; for his positive imagination 
is such that he cannot help re-creating others in his own image and is thus 
"doomed to walk in the valley of inverts". 

The banalities of the surface plot are inextricably muddled with the recording 
of mind-states and sub-conscious fantasies, as well as with allegorical figures from 
the literature that has most influenced Harris s mind figures used so arbitrarily 
that their meaning is seldom apparent. Harris sees himself as a Baudelaire in 
his desires of the flesh and love of corruption, as a Rilke in his preoccupation 
with death and his incapacity to love, as a Byron destroying those who love him 
in order to maintain his "identity", as a Proust experiencing love only when love 
has departed. He harps on Baudelaire s dark mistress, Jeanne Duval, on his 
mother Mme. Aupick, and on the family lawyer M. Ancelle who is constantly 
used as a "signpost" ; but he gives these figures meanings that are mainly his 
own, just as he uses Sappho and Phaon to signify feelings and desires that 
appear to have little relevance. His constant cry is that the artist, whose 
imaginative insight makes him best qualified to interpret himself and therefore 
others, is prevented by his self-consciousness from losing himself in love ; this 
also was the cry of Baudelaire and of Rilke. In fact, most of Harris s thoughts 
and feelings, even in his most obscure moments, appear purely, and perhaps 
inevitably, derivative. The essays he interposes in his attempts simultaneously 
to record and analyse show some intellectual grasp but little originality whether 
he is dealing with memory and imagination, with art and the artist, with love 
and death, or with power and the poet. 

Judging Harris as a follower of the Apocalyptics, we must say that he does 
not sufficiently select and integrate the material offered by his subconscious. 
Certainly the exploration of the self might be a fine thing if the artist had a 
self that was in richer and wider communication with the outside world than 
Max Harris s, and if the artist s myth or myths by which he expressed his 
concept of internal reality had a more general and intelligible application. The 
myth or daemon, as the essence of the creative imagination, is powerful in almost 
all great literature ; but communication is essential to art, and only Freud himself 
could clearly understand more than sixty per cent, of The Vegetative Eye. 

Max Harris and the Apocalyptics regard themselves as romantics in an age 
that is classical through its devotion to objective reality; they believe trie 
romantic situation to be the "more fundamental", and no doubt they are right. 
So when Max Harris prefaces his novel with a quotation from Blake s MS. notes 
on "a Vision of the Last Judgment" we think we may have a clue to his thought 
and his method : 



I assert for My Self that I do not behold the outward Creation and that 
to me it is hindrance & not Action; it is as the dirt upon rhy feet, No part 
of Me. "What", it will be Questioned, "When the Sun rises do you not see a 
round disc of fire somewhat like a Guinea?" "O no, no, I see an Innumerable 
company of the Heavenly host crying, Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God 
Almig-hty ." I question not my Corporeal or Vegetative Eye any more than 
I would question a Window concerning a Sight. I look thro it & not with it. 

Blake, a romantic in an age of reason, revolted against the commonsense 
orderliness of the eighteenth century in asserting the supreme importance of the 
individual vision or imagination. The world of matter, in itself unreal, was for 
him a mirror of spiritual realities; to depend on the "vegetative eye" (single 
vision) alone was to be the slave of illusion. When Blake s imagination was at 
its height he claimed the fourfold vision that is equivalent to the complete 
mystical experience. 

Now I a fourfold vision see, 

And a fourfold vision is given to me. 
Tis fourfold in my supreme delight, 

And threefold in soft Beulah s night, 

And twofold always. 

Mysticism has only recently, with the investigation of the subconscious, been 
seriously taken into modern thought; for in spite of the surface romanticism of 
the nineteenth century, its thought was essentially continuous with that of the 
eighteenth in its testing of truth by scientific experiment. Now we are begin 
ning to see Bjake in perspective ; we are finding that, approached psychologically 
rather than logically, his romanticism becomes intelligible as an intellectually 
based affirmation of the limitations of a purely materialistic view of the universe. 

Harris has followed Blake s psychology, for, like Blake s, "liis vision is in 
several layers: the farthest is the ^vegetative eye of pure perception; closer is 
the imagination which negates and transmutes the former ; nearest is the subcon 
scious, which may be interpreted by the intellect through the imagination. The 
subconscious, existing in two planes, provides the "contraries without which 
there is no progression". This is Blake s phrase and Blake s concept, expressed 
most vividly in the Songs of Innocence and the Songs of Experience: it is only 
by experiencing, through the vegetative eye, the life of actuality, which is death, 
that we can enter the whole life of the spirit. Harris constantly refers back to 
the idea of progression through contraries. But he does not share Blake s 
essential mysticism, nor his vision of the universe; he has more in common, 
perhaps, with Rilke and Dostoevsky. While accepting Blake s psychology and 
much of his philosophy, Harris interprets the Blakean concepts in psycho 
analytic terms. He carries more obvious echoles of Freud than of Blake, seeing 
the figments of his own unconscious instead of the "innumerable company of the 
heavenly host". 

With all its hotch-potch of sources, The Vegetative Eye fails as literature, 
chiefly because it is unintelligible and badly written. It is a pretentious and 
ugly thing, made uglier by its medley of printing types and the horrors of its 
prose. Still, it would be interesting to see more of mysticism and the myth in 
Australian literature. 





Beyond the Claw. By Brian Vrepont. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1943. 
3s. 6d.) 

Battle Stations. By John Quinn. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1944. 
3s. 6d.) 

A Second Summary. By Harry Roskolenko. (Reed and Harris, Melbourne 
and Adelaide, 1944.) 

Night Flight and Sunrise. By Geoffrey Button. (Reed and Harris, 1944.) 
Excellent Stranger. By Alister Kershaw. (Reed and Harris, 1944.) 
Readers of The Bulletin and of Meanjin Papers will be familiar with some 
of the work of Brian Vrepont now published in a collected edition under the 
title Beyond the Claim. Poets do not always realise that their reputations may 
be better served by a poem here and there in magazines and anthologies than 
by collections. There is a sameness about the majority of the poems of this 
collection, a limited vision and a limited range of emotions. The title is explained 
by the first of the stanzas addressed to the reader : 

Does it come ill my book is timed with war? 
Maybe; yet in this perilous hour 
Need is to remember back from fang and claw 
To the bird song 1 and the flower. 

Poets who profess to lead us back from war and the machine age to nature must, 
if they are to be convincing as poets, make us feel that we are returning to 
nature with a new insight, born of experience. Mr. Vrepont rarely succeeds in 
this. However,*he writes always with care in the selection of his words. His 
images are clear-cut. Certain of the poems, notably "The Fishers" and "The 
Net-Menders", in which the descriptive element is uppermost, have considerable 

In John Quinn s Battle Stations the reactions of a sensitive nature to the 
realities of several campaigns in the present war are expressed with sincerity 
and passion, but the thought is rarely original or profound. Here is a poem 
entitled "Prayer" which illustrates both his merits and his shortcomings : 


If the night should fall, 

Then let it fall 

Without pain s lurid sunset. 


Should the steel bite, 

Then let it bite 

Snarply. And I unknowing. 


If I must gain it, 

With one blow let me gain it 

The vast freedom of the grare. 


But God, 

Do not let me lie, 

An ugly broken thing. Lie, 

Not dead, not living, bloody in the sun. 



The notoriety recently acquired by the publishing firm of Reed and Harris 
makes it difficult to approach their products with an unprejudiced mind. The 
task is not made easier by their practice of scrawling their imprimatur in long 
hand across the title-page, or by the pretentious "Introductory Statements" 
contributed by members of the school. Harry Roskolenko s A Second Summary 
has "Introductory Statements" by Henry Treece, to whom one of the poems is 
addressed. Geoffrey Button s Night Flight and Sunrise has "Introductory State 
ments" by Max Harris himself, who sees in certain of the poems "a fervency 
and sensitivity that characterise the best in D. B. Kerr and Ern Malley". Alister 
Kershaw s Excellent Stranger escapes with only a Prefatory Note by A. R. 
Chisholm. All are provided with the indispensable author s portrait as frontis 
piece. However, it must be said to the publishers credit that this series is excep 
tionally well printed aiid pleasant to handle. 

Harry Roskolenko is probably the best known of the three, at any rate outside 
Australia. His work is of varying quality sometimes very ordinary, as in 
"Hotel Down Under" or "End Voyage", sometimes packed with brilliant phrases 
obscured by irritating difficulties. He gives at times an impression of great 
fluency and the poem called "Fantasy", in which he is under no obligation to be 
explicit, leaves the reader almost satisfied : 

The dog- died but the mouth still foamed; 
it was mad, said the mad, sad woman. 

Wherefore are the sands still on our beaches, 
the seas still as the fishermen see; the nets 
on the windy trawlers near the coast. 

Wherefore are we still on the combing cities 
as announcers tell us there is death so near; 
there is death in man, in city and village. 

The dog died but it clawed the air: 
It was sick, said the mad, sad woman. 

Wherefore were the thousand volumes drying, 
like scriptures, the fantasies of moral man; 
like the sea itself and the dead valley in it. 

Wherefore in the village do the men still sing- 
but not with song, for it is not of love: 
It is not anything like that at all. 

The dog died, but the dog- was mad! 
It was mad, said the mad, sad woman. 

Pilot-Officer Geoffrey Button is, as Mr. Harris says, "possibly the most 
European of the younger contemporary writers in this country, but this is all t 
the good". He finds inspiration in modern English, French and German poets, 
and in music. Few of his poems are directly concerned with war. "Black Swan" 
is in his simplest manner : 

Sailing swan, from off this bridge 

You bring me memories of sights I saw 

In dreams and verse. Sinuous grace 

Of Cleopatra in her barge 

Lapped by a liner s monstrous ease. 



Look there, out of the water 

And waddling up the bank, the queen of the river 

A fat black gin in her Sunday clothes. 

Alister Kershaw is perhaps the most original of the three. Obsessed with 
magic as a link between himself and nature, he writes almost entirely in a 
mystical vein. In "The Triumph" he displays a gift for music : 

Now the strange setting- of my hand, 

A messenger of nerves, has called the Spring, 

Made Winter s snare and saved the desolate seasons 

The valorous flowers war across the fields 

And set love dancing-. 

Now by a soft direction of my hand 

When all the curious summer strains in qufet, 

The comets group their threats and make their truce. 

What naked kisses follow on regret? 

These oceans gesture to their laughing miles: 

JVTy only magic fitly done. 

With these three poets the reviewer can only say that he has made an honest 
attempt to pierce the publishers camouflage and the authors obscurity. Where 
he has succeeded the .result has barely justified the effort. He can only hope 
that the quotations given will encourage others, gifted with greater perspicacity 
and perhaps with greater patience, to make their own discoveries. 

However, Barren Field need not yet turn in his grave. These five volumes 
are not representative of the best that is being written in Australia today. 



Australian New Writing, Number One (1943), Number Two (1944). Edited 
by Katharine Susannah Prichard, George Far well and Bernard Smith. (Current 
Book Distributors, Sydney, is. each.) 

A Comment, Number Twenty (July, 1944.) Edited by Cecily Crozier. 
(Editor, Melbourne, is. 6d.) 

The editors of both these periodicals announce their aims clearly and, it 
must be confessed, somewhat naively. Artists, they declare, must realise their 
entanglement in the social and political problems of their day, and they must 
reflect these problems in their writing, if literature is their field, contributing 
what they can to a solution. The work in Australian New Writing is the more 
obviously inspired by these ideals, which in themselves are harmless enough; it 
is with the conception of social and political problems that the editors put forward 
tJiat one must quarrel. It is too simple a view of modern affairs to consider the 
present war as the "People s War", not overmuch concerned with "markets and 
possession" ; to imagine that the contestants are either fascist or democratic, and 
that no impurity of "ideology" mars the aims and methods of either. And the 
over-simplification in this view of the modern world is matched by a not very 
profound conception of the function of the artists "to dedicate themselves to the 
task of freedom" and by a weakening of the artistic worth of many of the 
contributions through a painstaking effort to make every sentence tell against the 
forces of "fascism" which restrict human "freedom". 

I 52 ] 


It is generally accepted that literature should not aim primarily to convince, 
or directly to work upon the opinions of, the reader or, at any rate, should not 
cause the reader to feel that this is so. Nothing ruins his faith in the artist so 
much as the sense that he is being preached at, and nothing makes art seem so 
trivial and superficial as the suspicion that the artist is suppressing some of the 
facts, seeing life unsteadily and in part, falsifying life as we know it and as we 
live it in the illusory world of art, in order to make out a case for opinions he 
wishes to propagate and this whether we sympathise with those opinions or not. 
The worst example of this fault is George Farwell s "Discipline" in the first 
number, a story in which a too high-souled proletariat with "deep-throated 
approval" surges into the munition works against the lock-oat of a too "fascist" 
management. The author s obvious aim is to counteract the propaganda (plentiful 
enough) heavily weighted on the other side; but he defeats his purpose by disap 
pointing his reader, who sees all too plainly, and with some resentment, that 
instead of a work of art, a "story with a moral" has been foisted upon him. The 
same fault is evident, in some degree, in John Morrison s powerfully-written 
"Night Shift", and in much of the verse, which on the whole is of disappointing 

Other contributors avoid the fault, recognised by Noel Hutton in his critical 
article "Art and the Working Class", of letting propaganda take precedence over 
artistic presentation, and present clearly imagined characters is a well-conceived 
and logically developing story, the social and political problems serving as theme 
or background. These are all the more vividly brought home to the reader 
because the author gives them dramatic form, and lets them draw vitality from 
the life of the characters. By now in Australia, few intelligent readers find it 
difficult or disconcerting to see these problems treated from the point of view of 
the .working man ; but it is a mistake to think that the presentation of that point 
of view in itself gives added value to a poem or story. No matter what the 
different outlooks of authors, their work must be judged by the same artistic 
standards ; and Australian New Writing can show much writing of good quality. 

The stories of Ken Levis are well written, and show a steady development in 
technique. One, "The Artist s Touch", is written around the social problem of 
the effect of big business ^enterprises on workmen in country areas; and the fact 
that the existence of this problem was accepted without comment by the critics 
(a fact of which the editors complain in the second number) may as easily 
prove that the problem is recognised -as a matter of course as that it is over 
looked ; by winning sympathy for a clearly drawn and interesting character, the 
author has called attention to the social forces with which he has to contend. 
The other story, "Inbred", is perhaps better than the first ; and it is "more 
important" for > that reason, certainly not, as the editors claim, "because it reflects 
another social tragedy, the subconscious conflict between bush and city dwellers". 
There are other stories of varying quality by Sarah Maitland, William Hatfield, 
John Morrison and "Splinter" ; there are lively sketches of various phases of life 
at home, in -camps and at the battle-front, by A. P. Gaskell, Alfred Burke, Alan 
Marshall, E. A. Laurie, Betty Gill, Margaret Trist and James McDonald; and 
descriptive pieces by C. P. McCausland and E. P. Laurie (about whose identity 
there seems to be some doubt). Nearly all these contributions are notable for 
freshness and realism of outlook, racy and vigorous style (over-colloquial and 
faulty at times), clear and sensitive description, and a straight-forward, confident 
ring which promises well for the future. The editors are to be commended for 
opening a new field to Australian talent, and they are justly proud of the range 
and liveliness of the contributions. 



The editor of A Comment also insists that artists have always had an "utter 
dependence on their social context" and that "if they do not come to grips with 
the problem of the contemporary scene, if they do not attempt to participate in 
and guide the course of events, they will become merely the mechanical puppetry, 
despairing appendage of organised vice and brutality". The breeze of youth blows 
freshly through the journal ; its adventurousness, dogmatism and enthusiasm are 
those of youth, and the maturer contributions are few in number. The issue, 
following the new editorial policy, opens with an article on the late referendum. 
At the other end, Cecily Crozier continues a translation of Maupassant s "La 
Maison Tellier". The verse is varied in standard and style. Members of the 
Australian English Association who heard Arthur Ash worth s reading of his 
poem, "A Child s Journey", at an afternoon meeting in 1942, will be glad to find 
it printed here an effective and poetically conceived denunciation of modern 
civilization. Muir Holborn reveals in two poems a flair for phrase, a keen sense 
of detail, skill in suggestion, and an originality of style here marred by over- 
ingenuity and obtrusive artifice. There are slighter poems in various modernist 
styles by Donovan Clarke, Gertrude Sharp, Mary Williams, Gavin Greenlees and 
Edgar Castle. Over-written and extravagant, the other contributions brightly 
exploit all the latest methods of torturing language, and probing not very clearly 
realised psychological states indicating, so the editor says, "a healthy growth, a 
vital avant-garde experimentalism". One cannot apply the term "healthy" to 
Irvine Green s obnoxious scena entitled "The Dead Virgin" ; and the vitality in 
the experiments of Jean Mitchell, M. Dair, Elizabeth Galloway and James 
Gleeson does not extend to the creation of a finished and compelling work of 
art. Most of these writers can at times achieve a real distinction of phrase and 
image ; they are not so skilful at articulating a theme. I cannot see how writers 
will "guide the course of events" or even establish any sympathetic relation with 
their audience if the latter, reading through highly-rhythmical, densely-packed 
and emotionally-charged sequences of words, find that their meaning, sought 
with the best will in the world, is finally indistinguishable. 



Poetry: The Quarterly of Australian and New Zealand Verse. Edited by 
Flexmore Hudson. Numbers 10 and n. (Editor, Lucindale, S.A. 1944. is. 6d. 

As Rex Ingamells points out in his introduction to Poetry No. 10, it is a 
mistake to assume that "the poet is a common phenomenon among us". Certainly 
it would be unreasonable to expect a verse periodical to be full of good poems 
four times a year; and it is no depreciation of Poetry or of its value to admit 
that a good deal of the work in these two numbers is undistinguished, though 
there are quite enough bright spots to repay the reader. 

In general, this verse is strongest in descriptive skill and weakest in thought 
and form taking "form" to mean internal control rather than external technique. 
These faults are naturally more obvious in the longer poems, many of which 
seem to be in an intermediate stage of composition, with moulding and finishing 
still to be done. The best example of this is Flexmore Hudson s "Our Words 
Must Burn", which rambles on for nearly two hundred irregular lines on the 
rather threadbare theme that the poet should deal in propaganda. Many of 
these lines are lovely in themselves, especially in the opening descriptive passages, 



but it would be interesting to see the whole compressed to about twenty lines, 
preferably in a fairly regular form. It is possible that the result would be a 
much better and more forceful poem, though it is doubtful, whether didactic 
exhortation except in the greatest hands ever rises above the level of good 
rhetoric. The haranguing habit is a besetting sin. with many Australian poets; 
Rex Ingamells and Ian Mudie are also among the guilty. 

Joseph O Dwyer s dramatic spectacle, "Blossom on the Dawn", also suffers 
because its length is disproportionate to its intellectual weight. It, too, has fine 
passages, but on the whole it drags and spreads. The same criticism applies to 
K. A. Austin s "Australian Warriors"; and Ken Barratt s "On Some Surfers 
Who Fell in Greece" is obvious in thought and derivative in style. 

Donovan Clarke s "Ruin Ridge" is in a different category. There is no 
difftiseness here: the picture of the desert battlefield is powerful and striking. 
But when the poet passes on to reflection the reader is again disappointed, for 
all he says has been said too often before. Delicacy of touch makes R. Kate s 
"Via the Bridge" one of the more successful descriptive pieces, and Mary Grieg s 
brief "Song for Summer" has something of the quality of Norma Davis s 
nature poetry. Tack Sorenson s pictorial "Night March from Cyprus Hill" is 
marred by an unhappy use of alliteration, but his "Pallid Scars" has something 
to say. 

The general shortage of ideas is betrayed by a sprinkling of poems on 
the old- subject of disillusionment with the world and war, expressed with the 
too-familiar greyness. Travis Wilson s "Greater Love", A. J. H. Jones s 
"Leave", Paula Hanger s "Pause for a Cynical Thought", and Laurence 
Collinson s "Young Men Wait" all belong to this group. Perhaps the last-named 
should be in a class by itself, for it has far more gusto than the others. When 
Laurence Collinson states that his soul has been heaved up by the rotted stomach 
of war, and that in his sad eyes there shine no lights of joy, the adult reader 
feels a rush of nostalgia for the lost enthusiasm of youth. 

But grouping is not a really satisfactory way to consider poetry. With 
poets whose style is already familiar, it is easier to approach them individually 
and see whether they run true to form. The two most outstanding poets repre 
sented in these numbers are Norma Davis and Kenneth Mackenzie. Kenneth 
Mackenzie s "Post-Operative" is not as striking as some of his poems, largely 
because of a certain artificiality imposed by its subject, but it is handled with 
his distinctive sureness and descriptive power. Norma Davis is represented by 
"Tasmanian Morning", a landscape painted with all the exquisite precision and 
spiritual unity that have marked her work as a nature poet. This poem is not 
in her more common pictorial vein; it stresses rather the mystical aspect of 

A native bird with a golden summer of sound 
Yellows the silence, and now, ah, now the tree 
Of life is left unguarded. . . . 

Very different and much more tangible is the spirit animating Ian Mudie s 
landscapes in "Homecoming". Here is the familiar sun-baked scenery, always 
well worth looking at, even if our pleasure is not heightened by the knowledge 
that our attention will soon be directed to soil-erosion and a vision of the future 
"big with my people" and "our land s triumphant destiny". Rex Ingamells also 
fulfils expectations with "The Smile" and "Aeroplane". "The Smile" is in his 
lighter lyrical vein, in which he is surely more the poet than in his informative, 
ground-hugging style, of which "Aeroplane", inappropriately enough, is typical. 



Almost every poem in these numbers has its good points, and it is impos 
sible to comment on them all, but three more deserve mention for their indi 
viduality. These are W. Hart-Smith s "When You Touch", which, though 
slight, has a refreshing restraint, T. J. Betts s "Poem", and C. R. Allen s "Priest". 
"Poem" might be termed a railway dirge, and it is curiously effective, especially 
to a reader familiar with- the stretch of line described: 

The gravelled platforms g liding past. . . . 

It is all regret, all regret. 

"Priest" is perhaps too personal and consequently obscure, but it has undoubted 

Those red dawns flung- across the couchant form 

Of that peninsula where sun and storm 

Pursued their antiphon. 

These two numbers of Poetry continue to maintain the standards established 
by earlier numbers the breadth of outlook and sincerity of purpose that give 
it permanent value to the growth- of our literature. 



Voices: A Quarterly of Poetry, Australian Issue, Edited by Harry 
Roskolenko and Elisabeth Lambert, Summer, 1944. Published by E. L. Vinal, 
73 Main Street, Brattleboro, Vermont, U.S.A. Copy from the E.F.G. Library, 

Interim, Edited by Wil Stevens and Elizabeth Dewey Stevens, Quarterly, 
Number One, Summer, Number Two, Fall, 1944. Seattle, U.S. .A. 

Number Two, 1944 : Verse by A. D. Hope, Harry Hooton, and O. M. 
Somerville. Published by Harry Hooton, 265 Military Road, Cremorne. 

Meanjin Papers: A Quarterly of Literature, Edited by C. B. Christesen, 
Autumn, Winter, Summer, 1944. The Meanjin Press. Box i87i-W r , G.P.O., 

Poetry: The Quarterly of Australian and New Zealand Verse, Edited by 
Flexmore Hudson, Number 12, September, 1944. Editor, Lucindale, S.A. 

Cadmus: The Poet and the World, by Victor Purcell. Melbourne University 
Press, 1944. 

Some Australian Adventurers, Edited by Enid Moodie Heddle. Longmans, 
Green and Co. (Melbourne), 1944. 

Coast to Coast: Australian Stories, 1943, Selected by Frank Dalby Davison. 
Angus and Robertson Ltd., 1944. 

In a Convex Mirror, by Rosemary Dobson. Dymock s Book Arcade, 1944. 

Poems, by Janet Beaton. The Viking Press, Sydney, 1944. 

Earth Cry, by Norma L. Davis. Angus and Robertson Ltd., 1943. 

1940-1942, by Nora Kelly. Angus and Robertson Ltd., 1944. 

Once These Wings Were Silver, by Major J. H. Paul, A.A.F. Angus and 
Robertson Ltd., 1943. 

New Song in an Old Land: Australian Verse. Chosen by Rex Ingamells. 
Longmans, Green and Co., 1943. 





83 Brookman Buildings, 
Grenfell Street, 



I was very interested in your editorial remark, "Large promises would be 
as much out of place here as would depreciation, direct or indirect, of the 
achievements of other publications, to which we wish as well as we trust their 
producers do ours." Of the good faith of this remark I have not the slightest 
doubt. You will remember that when New Directions asked me to produce an 
anthology of Contemporary Australian poetry for the U.S.A. public I asked 
your co-operation, and with one or two minor alterations the poems you 
suggested as best representative of Southerly were used. More than one 
contributor to our journal has written saying the poems were sent on your 
recommendation. Our journal has always looked forward to the reviews which 
appear of its work in Southerly. I, myself, have published in Southerly, and two 
writers who appeared in the September issue of Angry Penguins have been 
prominent contributors to Southerly Elisabeth Lambert, Muir Holburn. This 
position is entirely sane. The general orientation of Angry Penguins has not 
been one which would find much favour in the eyes of your critics. Your 
reviews of our journal have been stringent, critical, and admonishing. That 
is as it should be. It has enabled us to examine ourselves in the light of a 
critical viewpoint distinct from our own. That situation has been creative in 
all respects. The approach from your side has been open-minded and tolerant, 
yet never other than vigorous and uncompromising. 

Such crfliques, you will realize, we find all the more salutary at the present 
moment, when our writers have been subjected to vicious and unreasonable 
onslaughts from the racegoing public of the Sydney Sun and the collective tribe 
of newspaper minds. I say "vicious and unreasonable" because they emanate 
from people who have never read our journal, any more than they have ever 
studied yours closely, I imagine. Additionally Angry Penguins has been through 
the disturbing world of the courts, charged as containing indecent matter. 
Irrespective of what the court s decision will be, the writers of our journal 
are artists and with serious artistic intentions. The treatment they receive in 
the social field is, I believe, not important to them but the appraisement their 
work receives from serious criticism is vitally important. 

It is therefore a matter of great regret to us that the review of our 
September issue by Joyce Ackroyd seems to embody the reductiq ad absurdum 
of small-mindedness, pettiness, and in short, the expression of a personal 
conglomeration of prejudices rather than intellectual criticism. For one thing 
the review is sufficiently belated to enable "us to have collected critical reactions 
from all over the world, and to examine it objectively and with an eye more 
detached and unprejudiced than Miss Ackroyd s. 

For instance, Miss Ackroyd sees in it only "stale issues, echoes . . . much 
that is pretentious, spurious, or merely silly". Nothing more! Not one thing 
that is not bad. F. J. Tambimuttu, the editor of the outstanding journal Poetry, 



London, and of Faber s anthology of the war s poetry, says of the same issue, 
"It is the most progressive literary journal I have seen from Australia and I 
wish it all success. I was very impressed with the high standard of the poetry 
and the criticism. . . ." Of course this proves nothing. Miss Ackroyd may 
well be a more perceptive critic than F. J. Tambimuttu, although none could 
call him a "hypnotised devotee of the cult of modernism". But for one thing, 
it does seem improbable that every single contributor is utterly devoid of merit 
when almost all the contributors are artists respected and published by the other 
literary journals of Australia. If I do not misread the psychological orientations 
of Miss Ackroyd, Holburn, Lambert, Chfistesen and the rest cease to be 
"poetasters" when their work appears anywhere else than in Angry Penguins. 
If not then you have been as guilty as I of publishing the work of "poetasters". 

Miss Ackroyd has not bothered to colour her prejudice with even a veneer 
of concrete criticism, and is as utterly guilty of the lack of reason for her 
distastes as she claims Mr. Reed s critique to be. 

She writes : "While Max Harris in The Bird and Muir Holburn in Poem 
lament somebody s spiritual death, Lola van Gooch tries not to grow sentimental 
over a kiss and in the trifle The Clowns and the Birds Twittering heaves a sigh 
of ennui." I submit that this is simply cheap and miserable-minded sophistry, 
and is not criticism. Even if the subject were toothache it is for the critic to 
comment whether it is a good or a bad poem about toothache. It is possible to 
sneer about the subject matter of the great bulk of world poetry, about that of 
Southerly indeed, if the aim is to belittle without critical substance to that 
belittling. Can you see whether they are good or bad poems about "trifles" from 
the context? I can t. Or does it infer that the "Innocence" lyrics of Blake are 
bad poetry because they deal with what would be to Miss Ackroyd s mind 
"trifles"? If Miss Ackroyd believes that "purifying love by reviewing old 
sorrows" is an idea of utter "slightness" then she must be one of those unfor 
tunates who would regard Milton s "Lycidas" with Nietzschean contemptuousness. 
She says that "such a theme does not require subtlety in the handling". Surely, 
in all good sense, any theme requires subtlety in the handling if it is to be a 
good work of art. 

Indeed the tone of the article is pretty small-minded when the critic 
begrudges even her begrudgingness. 

Finally, I wish to point out that this letter is asking for no kind of critical 
softening the virulent sardonicism of Mr. Hope is preferable to mealy-mouthed 
prejudice, because his sardonicism reveals at least a body of critical thinking 
with which one may agree or disagree. I say the same of all your previous 
critics. We have learnt all we need to learn of Miss Ackroyd s kind of mentality 
from the people who write letters to the press about "modernism". We simply 
say that if you desire to keep good faith with your editorial pronouncement you 
will submit other journals to a tour of definite and reasoned criticism and not 
the sneering bigotry of omniscience and self-satisfaction. 

I haye no objection to your allowing Miss Ackroyd to comment upon this 
10.9.44. MAX HARRIS. 

[Miss Ackroyd s review was in the press before the appearance of the "Ern 
Malley" number of Angry Penguins ; publication was unfortunately, but unavoid 
ably, delayed. 



The statement quoted by Mr. Harris in the first sentence of his letter was 
strictly editorial. Reviewers for Southerly, of course, express their own opinions, 
which are not necessarily^ those of the magazine. 

Miss Ackroyd avails herself below of Mr. Harris s willingness that she 

should comment on his letter. EDITOR.] 


Miss Ackroyd writes : 

Samuel Johnson was once very dissatisfied with the reception accorded to a 
political .pamphlet of his. "I think", he said, "I have not been attacked enough 
for it." At this rate both Mr. Max Harris and I may congratulate ourselves 
on the success of our respective literary efforts. There is one difference, how 
ever, between Mr. Harris s letter and my own review which I should like to 
point out. This is that I confined myself to comments on the "work" appearing 
in the magazine in question, and refrained from any reference to "persons" 
for, apart from the irrelevance*of such reference, being then unacquainted with 
each and every one of the contributors, I should have felt unqualified to judge 
of personal qualities. Mr. Harris, on the contrary, has not been so deterred 
but has not hesitated to mix personal abuse with his critical comments. He 
accuses me of "small-mindedness" and "pettiness". Apparently, in Mr. Harris s 
psychology, to form an adverse opinion of his efforts is small-minded and to 
perceive some discrepancy between the "large promises" made by Angry Penguins 
and the performances of its contributors is petty. 

I should like also to correct some slight inaccuracies and misrepresentations 
in Mr. Harris s letter. According to Mr. Harris, I stated that in the September, 
1943, issue of Angry Penguins were to be found only "stale issues, echoes, much 
that is pretentious, spurious or merely silly" and nothing more. My actual 
wording was "mainly heated disputings over stale issues, some echoes of what 
has been better done before", etc. It is not quite accurate to state that in this 
magazine I found "not one thing that was not bad". I spoke of the "competent" 
writing in the short stories, I did not condemn Elisabeth Lambert s poem, nor, I 
think, entirely disparage the efforts of Mr. Tallis or Mr. Porter, and I found 
something to praise in Mr. Button s work. In Mr. Harris s own work, however, 
I am afraid I perceived little of merit. Mr. Harris states that the words 
"such a theme does not require subtlety in the handling" were applied to his 
poem "Cathartic", whereas they occurred in the comments on Peter Cowan s 
"Living". It would appear from Mr. Harris s wording that the phrase "hypnotised 
devotee of the cult of modernism" is a quotation from my review ; this is not so. 
Finally, it is incorrect that I should elevate to the rank of poets the writers to 
whom I referred as "poetasters" whenever their work happens to appear in 
sojrne journal other than Angry Penguins; everything would depend on the 
quality of the work. 

Mr. Harris claims to have collected "critical reactions from all over the 
world". It would have been most impressive if Mr. Harris had quoted from 
all these critical reactions, noting their sources, but he has given only one by 
Mr. Tambimuttu and neglected to inform us whether the others were up to 

You claim, Mr. Harris, that you and your contributors are artists and 
sincere artists. Perhaps you are sincere ; indeed, if vehemence indicates sincerity 
there is no doubt. But as to whether you are artists, not only you but no 
matter how much you resent it others also may be entitled to express an opinion. 




The following appreciation, by Professor A. J. A. Waldock, appeared in 
The Union Recorder on October 19. 

Professor Holme would be the last to claim that these writings, collected 
and arranged by him with such loving care, can do more than give a partial 
image of the real MacCallum. In a sense no writings can truly represent 
MacCallmn, for what his voice and presence and delivery meant how these 
enhanced his written word only those who heard him can know. It was in 
listening to him, and especially in listening to him day after day as he developed 
some ample theme, that one began to take the full measure of his power. One s 
dominant impression was of complex materials superbly marshalled, of a perfectly 
controlled, triumphant advance. All this, with the innumerable minor delights 
of his larger technique the ease of the transitions, the command of qualification 
and involved parenthesis, the timing of illustration and aside, even the pleasant 
ingenuity of those "end-links" (for which one listener, at least, used to wait 
expectantly) by which he would smooth his passage from writer to writer and 
connect a whole course of lectures in unbroken sequence all this we can scarcely 
expect to feel, except by suggestion, in a group of his shorter writings. 

But it is difficult to conceive that, within the limits, a better gathering could 
have been made, and it is one for which we may be very grateful. There is 
"Priest Amis", a delightful rendering into delicately-tinted, old-fashioned English 
prose of a thirteenth century German "Schwank" ; there is "Inadmissible Publi 
cations", another from a little bundle of what MacCallum called Nugae Procaces; 
there is the public discourse that he delivered before the University and its 
guests on the occasion of its jubilee in 1902; there is "An Afternoon with 
George Meredith" ; there is "The Making of The Tempest ", a self-contained 
essay, but one that could, and probably did, fit into a larger study of the play; 
and there are the poems, of which the second may be taken as a testimony of 
MacCallum s lifelong faith. 

This is a memorial number, and MacCallum s own pieces have been presented 
in a carefully thought out setting. We are given the late Professor Todd s 
beautifully chiselled memorial record of MacCallum; we have Professor J. T. 
Wilson s sheaf of memories extraordinarily interesting as the comment (the 
last, perhaps, that we shall have) of an equal and a contemporary, the thoughts 
of one great man upon another ; and finally there is Professor Holme s intro 
ductory note, binding all together, a note written with the feeling and insight 
that long years of devotion confer. 

The collection will be treasured especially by members of the Australian 
English Association, of which Sir Mungo MacCallum was Life President, and 
it is very fitting that it should appear in a special number of Southerly, the 
Association s magazine. 




Membership of the Association. Subscriptions are for the calendar year, 
but it may not be generally known that those who join the Association in or 
after October of any year are regarded as being financial for the following year. 

Junior Members. The Association admits Junior Members (school pupils 
and students) at a special subscription of 2s. 6d. a year. This entitles such 
members to everything except publications. 

Members are asked to notify the Hon. Secretary if they do not receive 
Southerly and other publications regularly. 

"Southerly", Number One, 1944, Corrections. Page 8, line 6, "Coflict" : read 
"Conflict" (the error followed correction of another in the line) ; page 17, 
"Promenade", line 8, "be.": read "be" (ditto). 

The Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature. L. N. Broughton, in 
Modern Language Notes (U.S.A.), remarks of this compilation that "the 
attention paid to Australian, New Zealand and Canadian Literature is 
perfunctory". A glance at the Australian section does not fully bear out his 

G. M. Hopkins Centenary. 1944 is the centenary of Gerard Manley Hopkins 
birth. As yet there has been no commemoration. 

Hands Across the Sea. "It was with no little trepidation that we found 
Southerly . . . quoting us in their September (1943) number. We had been rash 
but had we been ungenerous, unjust, absurd? No, Southerly quotes us without 
resentment, and we re-read ourselves without a blush. [Quotation.] We look 
forward with an open mind to those forthcoming anthologies." Notes and 
Queries, May 20, 1944. The subject is Australian poetry. 

Chris. Brennan Memorial Fund. The Fellowship of Australian Writers is 
appealing for subscriptions to a fund which will provide a memorial over 
Brennan s grave. Subscriptions should be sent to the Hon. Secretary, the 
F.A.W., Box 3448, G.P.O,, Sydney. 

School s, In ! "The Reportage School is the least defined of the present 
forces in Australian poetry. It operates, I am inclined to think, mainly in a 
geographical insularity in Sydney and is reflected in the English Association 
journal Southerly. These writers bear somewhat the same relation to the 
Angry Penguins writers that the contributors of Chicago Poetry do to the 
school of Treece an4 Tambimuttu in England. There is none of the current 
preoccupation with- Personalism in their writings, sociological reflections permeate 
their writings, and one can see a vigorous effort on their part to instill personalised 
and illuminating reaction upon the fields of social experience. . . . Muir Holburn 
and Elisabeth Lambert are the strongest poets of this type. . . . Imaginative 
forces no longer dominate through language, and with these writers we are 
back at the Audenesque vision, but a stripped and disciplined vision." Max 
Harris, "Commentary on Australian Poetry", in Voices: A Quarterly of Poetry, 
Australian Issue, edited by Harry Roskolenko and Elisabeth Lambert, Summer, 

I6i I 


Entered for the Ern Malley Stakes. 

Here are the presses and the whirring looms 
That disenchant the native brooding air, 
The smoking phalluses and clanging wombs 
That fashion violence from crude despair. 

James McAuley, "Landscape", in Poetry, Number Nine. 

When trumpetings of jagged shard 
announce the eventual theme, 
regard those tournaments of hard 
bright metal and torn flesh, that seem 
to mock the possible fagade, 
the unknown indefectible dream ; 
assume them charts of pain, then here 
etched by bayonet fear and mere 
infrangible credos is the finite vision. 

"Damocles" (? Harold Stewart), in Arna, 1942. 


Unloosen soon your virtue, like the leaves. 

Harold Stewart, "Autumn Nakedness", in Arna, 1942. 

"As Iron Hills." A new book of verse with this title, by Flexmore Hudson, 
Editor of Poetry, is to be published by Robertson and Mullens, Melbourne. 

"Forests of Pan." Under this title, a selection, made by R. G. Howarth, 
from the hitherto unreprinted poems in Hugh McCrae s Satyrs and Sunlight, 
1928, has come from the Meanjin Press. It is available in the bookshops and 
from C. B. Christesen, Box 1871 W, G.P.O., Brisbane. 


The following are available : 

LEAFLETS (one shilling each). 
No. i. "W. P. Ker." Sir Mungo MacCallum. 
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No. 3. "Browning After a Generation." Sir Mungo MacCallum. 
^j f "Swinburne s Craftsmanship." Sir Mungo MacCallum. 

^{"Australian Pronunciation." Ruby Board. 
No. 5. "Hamlet." Sir Mungo MacCallum. 
No. 6. "William Blake." L. H. Allen. 

No. 7. "Some Elizabethan Dramatic Manuscripts." R. C. Bald. 
No. 8. "William Lisle Bowles." A. J. A. Waldock. 
No. 12. "Richard II." T. Le Gay Brereton. 
No. 13. "The Poetry of W. B. Yeats." H. M. Green. 
No. 14. "George Crabbe." F. G. Phillips. 
No. 15. "Scott s Equipment in Attainments and Character for his Literary 

Work." Sir Mungo MacCallum. 

No. 17. "A Midsummer Night s Dream." H. M. Green. 
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No. 9. Modern English Poetry." Kenneth Slessor. 
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v .. ( "The Symbology of the Robin Hood Myth Cycle." Peter Hopegood. 
No. 11. | "Women Poets of Today." Dorothy Auchterlounie. 

r"The Poetry of James Stephens." Joan Moore. 
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No. v. Annual Dinner, 1941 : Summary of Speeches. 
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XT ... ("Gertrude Stein." Vere Hole. 

NO. V11M T ^ T- 11 TI7 TV* J 

I "James T. Farrell. W. Maidment. 

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Price 6/- 

Shaw Neilson has been hailed by leading critics as the greatest 
lyrical poet Australia has produced. His sort of poetry, the poetry 
of lyrical impulse, has fallen on evil days, but it is conceded on 
all sides that he was an outstanding figure in Australian 

The present book is not a critical estimate "to decide his 
place in a list of names", nor is it a formal biography, though it 
includes the poet s own intensely interesting account of his life. 
But it is more than a worthy memoir. A great mass of valuable 
new matter is here presented, giving a vivid picture of Neilson s 
relations \vith the late A. G. Stephens, his methods of work, his 
literary opinions, and the whole history of his wanderings after 
casual jobs on farms, in quarries and orchards, and with road- 

James Devaney has given us the man and poet as he knew 
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As the first authentic and complete account of Joseph Furphy 
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Kate Baker was a close friend of Joseph Furphy and his 
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Angus & Robertson Ltd., Sydney 





Office-bearers, 1944 

Patron-in-Chief : His Excellency the Governor of New South Wales, The Lord 

Wakehurst, K.C.M.G. 
Patrons: Dame Mary Gilmore, Miss Dorothea Mackellar, The Rev. C. J. 

Prescott, M.A., D.D., The Rev. G. W. Thatcher, M.A., D.D. 
President: Emeritus Professor E. R. Holme, O.B.E., M.A., Commander of the 

Order of Leopold II. 
Vice-Presidents: R T. Herman, B.A., H. M. Green, B.A., LL.B., Miss R Earle 

Hooper, H. L. McLoskey, M.A., LL.B., Mrs. William Moore, Professor 

A. J. A. Waldock, M.A. 

Hon. Secretary: H. M. Butterley, Hanna Street, Beecroft. 
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Miss Thelma Herring, M.A., A. D. Hope, B.A., R. G. Howarth, B.A., B.Litt, 

W. Lennard, M.A., R. K. Levis, B.A., A. H. McDonald, M.A., Ph.D., A. G. 

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Number Four of 1944 



In this Number . . . 


Memoir By J. W. Gibbet 


"The Ribbon and the Rose": A Fantastic Play in Verse 


1860-1870 By George Gordon McCrae 



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"TWENTY STRONG" By Margaret Trt 







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John Alexander Ross McKellar 

Memoir, by J. W. Gibbes . . .............. 3 


Anadyomene ..... ..... ........ 10 

Invocation ........... . . . ...... 10 

The Stage is Set .................. 1 1 

West ........ ...... ........ ii 

................ ..... ., 1 1 


Friends ....... ............... 12 

The Prisoners, 1914-1924 .............. 13 

Reading in Bed .................. 13 

Address to Deity .................. 13 

Assonances .................. . . 13 

Rank Desolation of a Pen ............ . . 14 

"/ have been faithful to thee, Cynara, in my fashion" . . 14 

A Nineteenth Century Epitaph ............ 15 

The Pilgrims of the Past . . . . .......... 15 

Blackwattle Bay ............ ...... 16 

Imperfection ........ ..... ..... 16 

The Lands .................... 17 

April Memorial .................. 18 


Afternoon, Fin de Siecle . . . . 20 

Helen . . 20 

Villanelle of the Melancholy Minstrels 20 

Poverty, Chastity, Obedience 20 

Fourth Napoleon 21 

Rare Print 27 

Interlude: The Ribbon and the Rose 29 

Virgin Youth, by Muir Holburn 38 

"The Golden Age of Australian Literature", 1860-1870, by George 

Gordon McCrae 39 

Poets, by Flexmore Hudson 46 


Pope and Nature, by L. H. Allen 47 

Salutation to the Sun, by Paul L. Grano 51 

"Twenty Strong", by Margaret Trist 52 

Swamp Country, by Nan McDonald 56 

Centenary (Gerard Manley Hopkins, born 1844), by Martin Haley 56 

Writer and Reader 

Women Poets, by Thelma Herring 57 

Dusty Answer, by R.G.H . . 61 

Mrs. Chisholm, by R.G.H * 6* 

Publications Received . . . . . . 62 

Australian English Association 

Presentation to the Honorary Secretary 63 




Few early losses have been so much deplored by lovers of poetry 
in Australia as that of J. A. R. McKellar, who was twenty-seven 
when, in 1932, he died after a short illness. That year he had 
published, as the first of the Jacaranda Tree Books of Australian 
Verse edited by Kenneth Slessor and produced by Frank Johnson, 
Twenty-Six, so-called because "These verse exercises are twenty-six 
in number, and were written before I was twenty-six years old." He 
left a short verse play, "The Ribbon and the Rose", and a number of 
incomplete or imrevised poems, from which, at the instigation of 
Mr Hugh McCrae, who as Editor of the New Triad had encouraged 
McKellar, a selection is here ^printed. Mr J. W. Gibbes, Classics 
Master at Canterbury Boys High School, friend and guide to 
McKellar and recipient of the dedication of Twenty-Six, has kindly 
supplied a memoir to introduce the selection. With the exception of 
"The Gleaming Cohort" and "Newts", all the pieces mentioned by 
Mr Gibbes are included, though only the two relevant sections of 
"Teams" can be given. The Editor had already selected some of these 
poems, wholly or in part, and others which are here added. 

Miss M. McKellar and Mr A. R. McKellar, the poet s sister and 
brother, have placed the manuscripts at our disposal and have also 
assisted in every other possible way. Our thanks are tendered to them. 


It was in 1919 that I first met McKellar, when I joined the staff 
of the Sydney High School, where he was then a pupil in his Leaving 
Certificate year. As he did not study Latin or Greek, he was not a 
member of any of my classes, and it was not until October of that 
year, when I took over the First XI, that I came into direct contact 
with him. It is as a cricketer that I chiefly remember him at this 
period. Tall and slight he was then about six feet in height and 
weighed well under eleven stone he played the game with rare gusto ; 
a glorious outfield and absolutely tireless, he came into the pavilion 
after fielding while one of his opponents scored 400, as cheerful and 
jolly as an ordinary man who has just scored a century. As a batsman 
he drove beautifully and was very skilful in getting over a rising ball. 



Though his reputation for ability stood high in the school, our con 
versation at this time was mainly limited to sporting topics, and I was 
less impressed by his intellectual powers than by the charm of his 
smile and the attraction of his personality. 

Of his literary efforts during this period I remember only a ve.ry 
clever imitation of Pepys which was published in the November issue 
of the Record. 

From the end of 1919, when he entered the service of the Bank of 
New South Wales, till the middle of 1924, I lost touch with him 
completely. Then one Saturday night, returning, from a School 
football match, I met him in the city and resumed an intimacy which * 
was never broken till his death. 

The following week-end he came fc> see me, bringing several pieces 
of his work in verse and prose. Some of these he preserved : 
"Anadyomene", "Invocation", "The Gleaming Cohort" and "Newts". 

In criticizing these I was evidently more severe than I had 
intended to be, and it is no small tribute to McKellar s intellectual 
honesty and superb poise that it was not till after his death, when I 
saw "Teams", that I knew that I had given him pain. These verses 
were written nearly a year later after Sydney High School had 
sustained a bad defeat on the football field at the hands of the King s 
School, to the bitter disappointment of our few supporters. 

At this time it had become obvious that Sydney High School must 
place a crew on the river or cease to be a member of the Athletic 
Association of Great Public Schools. As sports master I had made 
certain arrangements with the Glebe Rowing Club and was casting 
about for ways and means of raising funds. McKellar threw himself 
heart and soul into the business, and, with Arch Harvey and Ross 
Gollan, who had been his contemporaries at school, raised between 
80 and 100 in a few months. 

Further, he and Arch went into camp with the boys during the 
years 1924 and 1925, and by the discipline which they maintained 
were entitled to much of the credit for the school s successes in those 
years. McKellar, too, studied rowing with characteristic thoroughness 
and was soon as good a judge of a crew as of a roundel. 

Meanwhile he came to see me every week-end and in the intervals 
of backyard cricket he would have played cricket in the snow with a 
broom and a rag ball we discussed books. 

At this time when he was mastering the science of banking in a 
manner unrivalled by his contemporaries and was devoting so much of 
his time to the interests of his old school, he was reading very widely 
not only in English but also in French. Of the latter language he 



had attained a mastery truly remarkable in view of the fact that all he 
had to build on was a four years school course. 

He had read the complete works of Anatole France, the plays of 
Moliere, Regnier, the Romans, Satires and Epitres of Voltaire, much 
of Ronsard, Malherbe and Rousseau, the Essais of Montaigne, the 
Maximes of la Rochefoucauld, the Lettres per sane s of Montesquieu, 
the Memoir es of Brantome, de Grammont and innumerable others, 
the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles, the Dizain dcs Reims, the Contes 
Drolatiques of Balzac, the works of Rabelais, the Fables of la Fontaine, 
the short stories of de Maupassant and Catulle Mendes, the Prince of 
Machiavelli and the Decameron. 

Anatole France he always valued highly; de Maupassant he 
regarded as the greatest of all short story writers ; Voltaire he rated 
above Swift on the ground that he had more humanity, adding: "You 
can tell that the French belong to an older civilisation than the English 
if only because they regard sex as a joke. The Frenchman takes sex 
as he takes his wine with a gay laugh whether he needs a drink or he 
likes his company. The Englishman is either a drunkard vomiting in 
the street or a secret tippler ashamed of his vice or an adulterator of 
good liquor with the lemonade of false sentimentality." 

Of Machiavelli he remarked that the principles of the Prince had 
so long been adopted in official circles as to seem rather trite. 

In English at the same time he read Middleton, Webster, Kydd, 
Beaumont and Fletcher, Swift, Fielding, Smollett, Sterne, Crashaw, 
Marvell and Landor. 

I can well remember his delight when he acquired the complete 
works of Fielding and brought the prize to show me. 

He regarded Amelia as the greatest of English novels, but, like 
myself, found the occasional papers of Swift and Fielding more enter 
taining than their more imposing and better known woVks. 

For Smollett he had a great admiration and was hence inclined 
to depreciate Dickens as a feeble follower. Andrew Marvell he 
regarded as one of the great and neglected glories of English litera 
ture. Contemporary writers also came in for their share of attention: 
Galsworthy, whose Forsyte Saga he rated high, Ford Madox Ford, 
Mottram, Montague, Cabell. 

The last influenced him considerably, not merely in the stressing 
of the Helen motif which is obvious in much of McKellar s verse, but 
also in his conception of the principles of creative art. I shall never 
forget the joy with which we both welcomed Beyond Life. 

Flecker and Dowson were read and put aside as damned of gods 
and men, but Housman was destined to be a lasting influence, as 



much from a similarity of outlook as from his classic clarity and purity 
of expression. 

It was during this period that McKellar gained his first knowledge 
of Greek and Latin authors through translations a verse rendering of 
selections from the Greek Anthology, Apuleius in English, Petronius 
in French. He was much amused at the unacknowledged indebtedness 
of Anatole France and Boccaccio to Apuleius, while his knowedge of 
the Greek Anthology enabled him to form a juster estimate of the 
merits of Herrick than is usual even among professed students of that 
gay cleric s work. 

McKellar was always fond of children and during these three 
years he did more for mine than I was able to do myself. He intro 
duced them to Kipling (verse and prose), to Dickens and to 
Thackeray, buying them books and reading to them, and in the case 
of my then youngest child, a little invalid boy, buying him toys and 
teaching him to play with them. The verses headed "Nine" were 
written on the occasion of this boy s death. 

At the beginning of 1927 I was transferred to Newcastle, "a town 
of monumental meanness", as McKellar was later to describe it. Two 
or three times a term, however, he came up to see me, and one 
week-end early in 1928 he arrived bringing a bundle of manuscripts 
and two bottles of sherry. It was 6 a.m. before we had disposed of 
both, and even at that depressing hour I was able to appreciate the 
merit of the verse and the extraordinary increase in power and 
technical skill. His reply was : "Keep them a week and write to me. 
It may be the sherry." 

It was not, and my judgment was confirmed by the appearance 
of the pieces in the New Triad.* This led to his making the acquaint 
ance of Hugh McCrae and Ernest Watt, the latter of whom was then 
financing the periodical, and McKellar began to entertain hopes that 
he had found an assured medium for^the publication of his work, hopes 
which were soon dashed when the paper itself ceased to appear. 

Of the other verse contained in this manuscript little need be said 
here, as it was nearly all included in Twenty-Six. I remember, 
however, that, in reply to my promised letter in which I had selected 
the concluding stanzas of "Marengo Comes to Market" for special 
commendation, he wrote: 
We scorn deception. 

"The troubles of our frail and angry dust 
Are from eternity and will not fail. 

* "Warring", April i ; "A Counterblast to the Press from a Bank Teller", 
June i ; "The Horse", July i, 1928. 



Bear them we can ; and, if we can, we must ; 
Shoulder the sky, my lad, and drink your "ale." 


About this time he had again taken up cricket and football, 
playing the former with a Shire team and making an occasional 50, and 
playing football with Randwick. In his letters the best matches of the 
1928-9 season figured as largely as literature, while Cyril Towers and 
Wally Meagher tended to eclipse Philip Guedalla and Liddell Hart. 

Meanwhile he had become friendly with Noel Pearson, to whom 
he owed in great part a really sound understanding and appreciation 
of music. Of paintings and etchings he had already acquired con 
siderable knowledge. 

What most impressed me, however, was that he could speak the 
language of any man with equal facility and equal pleasure to himself, 
and could enjoy, for the time at least, the conversation of the coal- 
miner or the tramp as readily as that of the financial magnate or the 

In 1929 he suffered a serious disappointment. He had sent some 
of his verses, including "Dawn Patrol",* to Garvin of the Observer, 
but they were returned. As a set-off, he captained the Randwick 
Reserve Grade XV, which won the premiership. This was no mean 
performance, as he lacked the speed necessary for a loose forward 
and had not the weight and ruggedness of a real ruck man ; but his 
courage, honesty and brains carried him further than many with 
superior physical gifts, and in the following year he was a regular 
member of the First Grade premiership side. 

In October, 1929, he sent me a warning of the approaching 
financial stringency, as "the bottom has fallen out of wool". 

It was then that I began to realise how high he stood in the 
service of the bank, for the fact that I knew McKellar so impressed 
bank managers twice his age that it was eighteen months before I felt 
the pinch. 

He was steadily increasing his knowledge of Greek and Latin 
literature, reading Catullus, Propertius, Tibullus, Ovid, Martial, 
Plautus, Terence, Tacitus, and Aristophanes in translations. 

It was amazing to me that he was able to discern the literary 
merit of the poets in wretched renderings, but his perception was so 
keen that he could even realise that Catullus was lyrist when presented 
in bald prose. Much of Horace was bound to appeal to him for the 
same qualities that made him love Housman. He was fortunate in 
having Colman s translation of Terence and Plautus in the Loeb 

* Twenty-Six, page 25 : "Dawn Camel Patrol Setting Out". 



edition. The latter he maintained was a literary ancestor of Chaucer. 
He was proud of his Highland ancestry and delighted in 
genealogies. He strongly deprecated the suggestion that the proportion 
of Celtic blood in the Gael was negligible and, while applauding the 
clans who ruined themselves fighting for a lost cause, he expressed 
equal admiration for the Campbells who always chose the winning- 

This last, however, was only a polite gesture, congratulating a 

victorious opponent. He himself instinctively chose the weaker side 

and was born to fight for lost causes. This is the theme of the "Ribbon 

and the Rose", of "The Retreat from Heaven" ;* and the attitude is 

explicitly stated in the last two stanzas of the "Address to the Deity". 

Early in 1931 I returned to Sydney and stayed for some two 
months with McKellar and his mother and sister at Mosman. He was 
then reading Maurois s Byron and was delighted that the biographer 
attributed many of the poet s irregularities to his "wild Scotch blood". 
Another work which we then read and discussed was the satires of 
John Donne. 

During the winter he was w r orking tremendously hard at his 
profession, harder than any of us realised at the time, and was also 
actively assisting friends who found themselves in positions above 
their capacity, by placing his knowledge at their disposal, and those 
who found themselves in financial difficulties with his purse. He was 
also captain of the Northern Suburbs Reserve Grade XV and would 
attend practice once a week, going without his tea in order to do so. 
After training he would come to my house and eat a supper of fried 
eggs, after which he would drop off to sleep on a sofa, often waking 
about midnight to tell me the true causes and remedies of the 
"depression", as we then called it. "Free trade: close the picture 
shows and shoot the American Consul" was one panacea ; and he 
expressed strong disapproval of a bank policy which had resulted in 
the financing of time payment purchases of motor-cars and musical 
instruments to the detriment of our pastoral and agricultural interests. 

Later in the year he went to Melbourne for a couple of months, 
but he regarded this as an exile and was glad to return. 

In January, 1932, the first day of the Australian Athletic 
Championships, Twenty-Six appeared. f He gave me my copy that 
night, his attitude manifesting, as Ross Gollan said, "excitement 
sternly controlled". I was as excited as he and far less controlled 
and was much touched by the dedication, J for, seeing how rapidly his 

* Twenty-Six, page 48. 

t Dated 1931. 

t "To John Wilfrid Gibbes This tribute of Finance to Scholarship Supine." 



powers were maturing, I had advised him not to publish for a couple 
of years and I knew nothing of the intended publication. 

The word "supine" was a joke at my financial affairs which were 
sjightly more muddled than usual, and he had described me more than 
once as a figure of scholarship lying on its back to conceal its bare 

Of the poems which did not appear in this book I rather regretted 
the exclusion of "Assonances", "April Memorial" and "Nineteenth 
Century Epitaph". 

The Jacaranda series came to a premature end, but Slessor s 
work passed through McKellar s hands in manuscript as well as much 
else. Slessor s verse* afforded us as much .pleasure as the other stuff 
supplied amusement or disgust. 

About this time McKellar wrote the "Ribbon and the Rose", 
where the influence of Cabell will be obvious to anyone who has read 
Jurgen, and he began the "Fourth Napoleon". 

The plan of this last, which was to be a magnum opus, he 
described to me as follows : "The hero, a sergeant in the last war, 
deserts in Italy and through a revolution there rises to be a despot; 
conquers France, Spain and the whole Mediterranean littoral ; then 
realising that power is but Dead Sea fruit he sinks deeper and 
deeper into sensuality and sadism till he is deposed and killed in a 
rebellion and dies friendless, but not before he has shown a flash of 
the old fire." 

The conception of the man was suggested by many instances in 
history. He had read Plutarch and Suetonius ; he had also read 
Baker s Sulla, and Sulla was always a favourite of mine. Consequently 
he had realised the effect of unlimited power on all men but the one 
who had the moral courage to let it go after he had grasped it. He 
had been impressed, too, by the passage in Cabell s Figures of Earth 
relating to Solomon and his wisdom. 

The lines in "Fourth Napoleon" with which he himself was most 
pleased were Stanza III, 6: 

Stung by an insect to the sweet assault, 
Stanza VIII, 18 and 19: 

That irritable race, begot by wind 
Upon the belly of futility, 
Stanza IX, 21 to 24: 

Not caring much if God is on his side 
Or if He shelters neutral in Monaco, 
But swearing that his soul is crucified 
If he be left without his own tobacco. 

* Cuckoos Contrey, Number Two of the Jacaranda Books. 



At this time he remarked that decasyllabic verse was his medium, in 
that he was not tempted to write it unless he had something to say. 

I have regarded this unfinished poem as not only giving the highest 
promise of achievement but also as containing his best lines, and I have 
always felt that, if completed, it would have been something of such 
genuine merit as to compel recognition. 

It was, however, while he was still at work on it that he fell ill. 
It was a fortnight before I went to see him and found him in bed, 
reluctant to stay there, writing in pencil "Rare Print", which he 
finished and gave me to read before I left. 

I returned home expecting that he would be up and about any 
day, but I never saw him alive again. 



I jwalk uncompanied ; but near the sea 
The restless tide turns in the heart of me, 
And where the gulls fly up with startled screech 
To make new flocks along the sea-ribbed beach, 
I lean across the waves, and wait in vain. 

Watching, F know there ll be no waterspout 

From bubbling dark-green deep-sea-wells thrown out, 

Alive with curious fish- and flashing tails, 

Whence lo ! the goddess wrapt in seven veils 

.Of glistening foam floats upward to the sun. 

I know tis vain, yet I still linger where 
The dazzling sun breaks through the sea-wet air, 
To watch her deep-sea-sunless-pallid breast 
Flush faintly rose, as with the sun caressed 
She wakes, and swims into the upper mist. 



Give me your leave to love 
Until my breath 
Arrests not at her step 
Then, take me, Death. 





Stand on a moonless hill at dead of night 
And overlook the restless tumbling seas, 
Let there be all the stars in blaze, as white 
As are the wind-turned leaves of poplar trees. 
Look in the heaven s .wheeling dome of dark, 
And dawn on white waves misty in the gloom, 
Let the chill wind strike, naked, bare, and stark; 
Then gather from that air a thought of doom. 

The broken cries on gods born of the sun, 
The moon-mad invocations of the light, 
Avail not underneath that starry wrack. 
Nothing replies. There is no sound but one, 
The tale of turning tides upon the bight, 
Skirting the narrow beach and drawing back. 



When we are dead, I do not think we live, 
Save in a heaven touching close to earth, 
Which holds no passion this life cannot give, 
War certainly and love, mayhap, and birth ; 
Yet I would not think ever* this of death, 
He is too sure an artist to deny 
The ultimate oblivion, past breath 
When we have done, tis done, and still we lie. 

Far better thus, inscrutable, unjust, 
Than looking at the stars to see God s jace, 
When Victory leans not to love nor lust, 
And the reward of running is the race, 
Far better thus : unseen, in states unknown 
To travel fast and travel far, alone. 

(For John Wilfrid Gibbes) 


Not by your voice, or hands, but in one look 
I knew the time had come to close the book : 
A silent minute only Golly spoke, 
Between his intermittent rings of smoke 
And it was just; the farce was done, at last. 
Then Archie broke his spiritual fast 
To curse, and count the crocks among the team, 
While I sat back beyond the fire s gleam, 
Demolishing a half-dismantled dream. 
For I had failed. I think I knew before 
You read them through ; but now, I had no more 
Uncertainty, and it s a bitter thing 
To have the heart but not the tongue to sing. 
But Know thyself I did, a little more 



That apple always had a bitter core 
Ever since Eden. Through dim avenues 
Which Silence keeps, and never will refuse, 
Whoever knocks, he let me wander then, 
Away from voice and thought of other men, 
And for myself I felt great pity there, 
For I had dreamed so much, and dreams are fair- 
But suddenly a voice said : "Is it well, 
My son, in these dark avenues to .dwell, 
Complaining because Fate has kept concealed 
The magic flute that is to few revealed?" 
Old Silence, walking somewhere in my mind, 
Had cast me forth, and closed his gate behind; 
While, like a barge, mist-shrouded, on a stream, 
Vaguely your voices closed around "the team". 
Then all at once, the dull resentment passed, 
I knew I had come home again, at last. 


Thus, for a winter s space returns to me 
The ardour of that one first loyalty. 
It s little of the world that I have seen 
In less than twenty years that I have been, 
But one by one fair tilings have dropped away, 
And left me, only poorer by a day, 
Until there s nothing more but still to live 
Indifferent to what the years may give 
And laugh at anything the mind can span, 
Mostly myself. . . . 

Yet, if I wanted plan 

To build my days on, then I think I d take 
Something that other men have failed to break 
The little loyalties we learnt at school, 
Since I have not yet found a wider rule. 

And so I come to thank you for the team 
As symbol I can always find a scheme 
Longer to live if nothing else avail 
Or keep, at least, my mouth shut, if I fail. 


O! I ll not want to be alive 

When all my friends are dead, 

For a man s heart dies the day they die, 

Kneels at his own death bed. 

None to receive that s the end of giving. 

No one to come at call. 

O ! I m not wanting to be living 

With the last one under wall. 




THE PRISONERS 1914-1924 

Our brothers speak few words, who have come back; 

They snarl, sometimes, like wounded beasts at bay, 

But most they sit in darkness, whimpering, 

Or grimly smiling answer : "Not that way", 

Pointing a shaking finger whence they came. 

They have such trembling hands, bleeding and bruised, 

Their fingernails ripped off and bended back, 

Broken and torn, as though they had been used 

To scratch and tear at earth s unyielding stones, 

Seeking a way, a passage from the pit 

And all the dead men have such broken hands, % 

But none can read the riddle of their bones. 

Now they have died, and things are as they were, 

All that was theirs is ours, and nothing more, 

For they alone can tell, in those long years, 

If their dead hands came ever on a door. 


The evening falls, when I must lie alone, 
And listen to the thin and ghostly tread 
Of strangers in the house of flesh and bone. 
Spies from the voiceless armies of the dead 

I feel them touch their way along the walls 
As from unconscious corridors they creep ; 
A sentinel remembers, starts, and falls ; 
So am I given to the hands of sleep. 


I do not ask for crown or groat, 

Though, if you have them, Lord, 

Or wine or war or petticoat, 

They may sit at my board. 

Not length of days nor gifts of phrase 
Nor the moon in Heaven, Lord, 
But a steady hand when I go my ways 
And end with a broken sword. 



Zeus was begot by Rhyme 

Though his father s name was Time : 

Let not Rhea censure claim, 

Other wives have done the same : 

Zeus, seeking assonances, 

Leads the world some merry dances : 


Let him taste a single grape, 
Straightaway he thinks of rape 
Fathers on poor Amphitryon 
Hercules, prodigious scion; 
Gives to Danae a bath, 
Perseus the aftermath; 
Spartan Leda s pity begs, 
In a year she s laying eggs. 


In truth, the boundaries of men 
Are such as of themselves be laid; 
At harvest-home is seed-time paid; 
And, as a man doth use his sight, 
So touched with magic is his night. 

Who knows, on leaves, the dew-wet pearl 

Weaves him necklaces, to curl 

About Eleyne, her swan-white throat 

As lily flowers, gentle, float 

Across the bosom of a stream, 

So earth upbears frail things of dream. 

Ere Dian s flowers on me were strewn 
I held the silver-hillocked moon. 


What though my heart I counsel to be colder, 
And urge obedient senses to be wise, 
Sooner or late my hand must seek her shoulder, 
And mine mark out the orbit of her eyes. 

Sooner or later lips must turn to others, 
Sooner or later brow must bend to breast. 
Mother of love, O Venus, mother of mothers, 
Slave to thy slave am I, with love oppressed ! 

Yet, as in honour bound I may not borrow 
The "Vicker s"* rose-bud lies to charm the walls, 
Truth and relentless time bring in tomorrow 
And cry a truce before the city falls. 

For I was born a Gael, thus bound to wander, 
Love pretty lips, and many press to mine, 
But all the while the ardent moment squander, 
To live a wasted hour in Auld Lang Syne. 



So, though he bear blue bonnet and the feather, 
Far from his native glen, and pebbled burn, 
Firm is the clansman s foot upon the heather, 
Sweet heather, where he never may return. 

* Herrick. 


This was an Englishman. He was nt great, 
Nor, by the world s accounting, very wise, 
No matter where it lay, a cricket bat 
Was the unfailing lode-star for his eyes. 
He could not rest, until, to try its weight, 
He d taken it, and made some airy stroke 
Which followed through to nothing. After that, 
As a young lover who returns to face 
The world, from dangling on a silken cord, 
His thoughts would linger in a greener place, 
Although he talked in this. . . . 

They say he broke 

For ever with a mistress once, because, 
When on his way to her, he chanced to pause 
Beside a cricket field. He never could 
Go by until he saw the next ball bowled. 
She, I suppose, could not brook being told, 
And it would not occur to him to lie. 

I don t know where, or when, he came to die, 
But men have told me it was oversea, 
On some forgotten hillside. That may be, 
War for its lack of reason soon atones 
If bullets bring sufficient men to bones. 

So there he rests for ever. Yet I dreamed 
A parting that, for him, more fitting seemed : 

He leaned upon a fence to watch a match. 
While all the shadows lengthened on the grass 
A stranger whispered words I could not catch 
And beckoned him to follow. Slow to pass, 
I heard him plead for "just another ball", 
But Death was stern, and would not heed his call. 



The walls of Heaven are crumbled, 
The troops of angels hushed, 
The pride of man is humbled, 
His secret hope is crushed ; 
Rewards and fairies vanished, 
Belief he may not own; 
From holy cities banished 
His town is dust alone. ,, 



And since naught is before him 
But falling skies and black, 
Because a woman. bore him 
He must be looking back 
On countries all unclouded ; 
The pilgrim s \iew is clear; 
His longing has but shrouded 
The image with a tear. 

Through old Virginny s cotton 
The Swannee Rivers run, 
While men who long were rotten 
Enjoy with him the sun. 
He sings the sweetest patches, 
And argues thence the tune, 
For memory so matches 
His crying with a moon. 

He knows dead summers stronger 
With each receding sun, 
And as the list grows longer 
More often turns to one. 
And O, to have the power 
To watch the easy skill 
Of Trumper for an hour, 
And lie upon the hill. 


A timber ship unloaded 

Her cargo in the bay, 

Log linked to fellow convict log 

A floating forest lay. 

As idly I looked on them, 

The thought occurred to me 

That one of these in course of Time 

My coffin well might be. 



Lust in its shame and love in all its grace 
Are fixed in men upon the selfsame base, 
Nothing in life is perfect, fast and pure 
Beyond the reach of evil to endure. 
But is it reason on the fates to cry 
Because we fall to sickness and must die ; 
Because we touch the heroes feet of clay, 
Deny the rest, and wish the world away? 




(Lands Department Building, Sydney, New South Wales) 

A sweet Franciscan of the Lands, 
Sir Thomas Mitchell stares and stands 
Indifferent to the gentle words 
Of Bass, befriended of the birds 
Who simulate the snows of time 
By anointing him with lime, 
Ere they depart to flutter thanks 
In equal kind on Joseph Banks, 
Or cloud with high foreboding dirt 
The stony thoughts of Richard Sturt. 

Brother Thomas looks all day 
Past the Bank across the way 
Thinking nothing of the sport 
Weather makes with Sutcliffe Mort, 
Realising none of these 
Staring Bank and bronze and trees- 
Occupied with dim designs 
Of gouging out the triple lines 
Of Torres Vedras frowning face 
In Bridge Street and Macquarie Place, 
Or meditating, half in dream, 
A bridge of boats across the stream 
Men of flesh no longer see 
Trickling listless to the Quay. 

But truly, lady, passing by ! 

We are strangers, you and I, 

In our world as much alone 

As Thomas Mitchell made of stone, 

And the images I raise 

Of the country he surveys 

Are no wider of the mark, 

Not more hopelessly in dark, 

Than our vision what is true, 

Yours, of me, and mine, of you. 

Pretty lady, when you smile, 
Phantom thoughts awake and file 
From the sunken funeral bed 
Where the poppy long had shed 
Her blind and drowsy seed. 
For a passing moment freed, 
Now assemble wistful wraiths 
Of my long abandoned faiths : 
So I pass in sad review 
What I still might seem to you, 
Leave the child that I began 
And resume the present man ; 



Old beneath an ageless sky, 
Living, hopeless, soon to die. 

Pretty lady, please to think 
Never past the moment s brink ; 
Who can tell what you might see? 
Better leave the grave to me. 
While so warmly beats your heart, 
Kiss me, lady, and depart. 

Thomas Mitchell, flesh and bone, 
Somewhere coffined and alone, 
If the worms that bring you air 
Your immortal spirit spare, 
Speak the answer that we crave . . 
All is silence from the grave, 
Silence nothing can transmute 
To the tones of Heaven s flute, 
Echoes none can pause and tell 
As the sombre drums of Hell. 

Thomas Mitchell, raised in stone, 
Image of once flesh and bone, 
Close your eyes that nothing see, 
Tumble down, give place to me, 
And the world that passes by 
Would not any change descry. 

Long ago when I was young 
Pagan songs were made and sung. 

1930 (Unfinished} 


Along the road and through the street, 
With bayonets gleaming in the heat, 
I saw the men who marched away 
As though it had been yesterday. 

Despite the fall of year on year, 
The vision I remembered clear, 
But now before the column s head 
I caught the dusty glint of red, 

And long in front a scarlet file 
Stretched for a weary Spanish mile, 
Until could now be plainly seen 
The Riflemen with jackets green. 

Beside them marching four abreast, 
Battalions white and blue were dressed; 



Over their faces, lean and hard, 
Towered the bearskins of the Guard, 

While from their golden Eagles flew 
The standards red and white and blue. 

Yet past the corporal s men I saw 
Defenders of an older law, 
And to a quick step light and gay 
On swung the men of Malplacjuet. 

Onward in endless line they went 
Until the road rose up and bent 
Over the hillside, where I knew 
Rank after rank of bowmen true, 

Sword and pike and morning star, 
Covered the roadway, stretched as far. 

It was the army of the past; 
A soldier first, a soldier last, 
Rank after rank, and wave on wave, 
The gift of glory to the grave. 

For long I watched the line ahead, 
The blue and scarlet, brown and red ; 
A shadow fell across my mind ; 
I turned and cast my gaze behind: 

Dressed in the old and gallant hue, 
A regiment swung into view; 
Clear in the sparkling April morn 
I saw the soldiers yet unborn. 

The drumming ceased, the bugles died, 
All at once a woman cried, 
And where before each soldier stepped, 
A woman knelt, a woman wept. 

The mighty weeping rose and fell, 
Honour-and-Glory s passing bell : 
The splendours of embattled years 
Accomplishing a woman s tears. 

But suddenly throughout my mind 
The vision faded : I was blind, 
Then looked again. From sombre stone 
The last of withered wreaths had blown. 

1930 (Unrevised) 



Away, the sun leans downward from his noon, 
Bent lightly on the gently-breathing plain, 
Like some expectant lover, come too soon, 
Hovering above his mistress counterpane, 
The while she sleeps; he seeks to touch her lips 
And tease the twin blue flowers in her eyes 
Awake at his caress, whilst fingertips 
Elsewhere engage in wanton enterprise. 


Sing me no more the dark Egyptian queen, 

Slim-girdled as her Cairene dancing-girls, 

Or that Swan child whose father s plumes were seen, * 

Made whiter still, in her twin nippled pearls. 

This Helen, mistress of a world s unrests, 

Even so beautiful, ere Time grew old 

Destiny bruised his brow against her breasts, 

Sing not the dawn is gone, the day is cold. 

Sing them no more. They were a dream, at best. 

Yet even marching Time may not enlarge 

The changeless spirit, though renews the breast, 

And eyes still dazzle with the burnished barge. 

Dead but the heart forgets them not, nor tires, , 

Their lips are warm yet with unborn desires. 


Still they sing in the olden way: 
"O, vanished dames were fairer far, 
The world was younger yesterday. 

Gather ye roses while ye may, 

For time is swift as the falling star." 

Still they sing in the olden way : 

"The wistful willows droop and sway, 
The sea breaks sadly on the bar, 
The world was younger yesterday. 

Death is near, and the sky is grey. 
Our sail is set for lands afar." 
Still they sing in the olden way : 

"Over the hills and far away." 
The lute is strung to the setting star. 
Still they sing in the olden way : 
"The world was younger yesterday." 


Although to strict monastic rule 
My action seems confined, 



Since Beauty keeps me still at school 

And Fortune ismnkind, 

And to a Bench I may not plea 

For you ll not arbitrate, 

Condemning me, untried, to be 

Your own true celibate, 

Yet a petition I present : 

The vows are three, not four, 

Perpetual silence was not meant, 

I trust, to crush me more. 


Out of the stream the legions tread, 
The mud resettles on the bed 
Where Rubicon still flows 
Is the geranium more red, 
And deeper is the rose? 


Caesar went south; straddled his narrow world 
Like a Colossus; ran to death his foes, 
Gave to the city law, and fell to dreams; 
Languished in Egypt, stung by the serpent s tooth 
And drowsy with Love s poison in his veins ; 
Returned to Rome, to get for recompense 
A dagger in his heart so passes all 
The glory of this world, and he whose name 
Hushed into whisper every human voice 
Dwindles to summer dust, and is no more 
Than a burnt ash, incapable of flame. 


He swayed the lives of men, and they may rule 
A wife, a cat, a mistress, or a mule ; 
The wife, her child ; the cat, nose-quivering mice ; 
The mice, their fleas ; a flea, some sleepless fool 
Who does his paramour the honour twice, 
Stung by an insect to the sweet assault. 
In sullen recognition of her fault 
The heavy mistress fetches up in bed 
Caesar is born again, and in the malt 
His father s boon companions wet his head. 


Herod the King was in some mood like this 
When he gave out that every child should die, 
Had I a heart as nervous as was his 
I would not dare to drink, undress, or lie 
Two in a bed, with women made to kiss 
And tell your secrets to, but like the priest 
Of Nemi, who usurps the Golden Bough, 



Stealthily through the forest I would creep, 

Ears at the prick, grown thin from want of sleep, 

Watching, for ever waiting, for the least 

Crackle of twig or unrelated sound 

To tell the trespass on my sacred ground 

Of the eternal murderer, come to wrest 

Life and the priestly mantle from my breast. 

Still, for the moment, children are all safe 

Within the lands I rule, and though perchance 

The lad who yet will oust me sucks in France 

Milk from his mother s dugs, I ve yet to think 

That s any call to interrupt his drink. 

It is enough for me to recognise 

That Caesar rarely of declension dies ; 

Lincoln was shot, and Mussolini went 

Into a more atomic firmament 

All in a second, fifteen years ago. 

Perhaps my doom comes in with supper wine 

Before tomorrow morning. Let it be. 


When Caesar looked within his glass, 
And saw that he must die, 
Of what tomorrow brings to pass 
He knew no more than I. 

But thinking on where time bestowed 
In lovely dust, Cornelia dead, 
Leander (lost where Lethe flowed), 
Shivered, awoke, and went to bed. 


But in despite of emperors, and kings, 
And tyranny, transmitted safely dowji 
(In a dull vesture, dressed as common weal 
To save the face of free men) till the clown 
Is left to draw his subjects from the air, 
And call for contribution on the wings 
That flutter round the very eaves of Heaven 
Is there another feather on the bird, 
Has the dim lark a grace note that he flings 
Into the blue, which Adam had not heard? 


Like an informed mechanic, I may yoke 
Horse into cart, bring stallion to the mare, 
But not for any word of mine, or wish 
Will the poor Jennet labour with a fish 
Or the dull mountain bring a mouse to air. 

Who shall decide the seed time of the rose? 
Who shall declare the journey of the bee? 



Who shall persuade the daffodils to close, 
And leave the sun to Herrick and to me? 

Who shall awaken desire in the heart of the last of the swallows 

For the sun and the warmth and the blue of the lakes of the south 

Until the dilatory bird shakes out its feathers and follows? 

Certain am I but of this, that the word issues not from my mouth. 

Is it of use to be king, and order the going of ships 

Into the brow of the storm, and back to the breast of the shore 

When the colour has gone from the eyes, and the blood is dried up in the lips 

Of Ellen, and Ellen is dust, that will quicken to flesh no more? 


Now I am fourth Napoleon, made by chance, 
Blessed by a Pope, and Emperor of France ; 
At my direction, all the eagles feed 
Which are in Italy; and even Rome 
Welcomes me, with discretion, back to home ; 
The West is mine, from Baltic Sea to Black, 
Beside whose margin it was once, decreed, 
(As I may order now) the amorous poet 
Should sleep the Summer seasons on his back 
And so restore a Roman constitution. . . . 

But why should my Imperial decree 
Remove the slim flanks of virginity 
Beyond the reach of any fumbling hand 
That seeks fee simple in the promised land, 
And, having plucked a not unquestioned rose, 
Rhymes the event in even looser prose? 

I will have need of poets, soon or late . . . 
That irritable race, begot by wind 
Upon the belly of futility, 
Prone to deal hardly with the dust of kings 
If they are safely dead and celebrate 
The stopping of a hole with Caesar s clay, 
Quick to reject all flesh of baser worth 
In the deep lust of levelling to earth 
Colossus, for the dogs to have their day 
And lift their legs upon. . 

But I m alive, 

Still with a little power of life and death, 
A finger that can lift and stop the breath 
In the most lyrical of throats. So thrive 
The ballad-mongers in the market-place, 
Printing a legend round my smallest act, 
Swelling into a fiction every fact 
That makes me what I am, or would appear: 
The goose s quill is mightier than the sword 
If this be not uncomfortably near, 
Naked and sharp but sheathed and ringed with dust. . . . 



Yet I will need my poets when I m old 
To work upon decaying mind, convince 
The veteran who fought at Fontainebleau, 
The man who rose from private to be prince, 
The sergeant-major who, with iron hold 
Upon the throat of revolution, shook 
The apple that was Paris to the ground, 
The Emperor, who having made a Pope, 
Gave him a flock submissive, filled with hope 
Of everlasting life in Christian dress 
(Laggard in their observance, more or less, 
After an interregnum, whence the throne 
Of God had been vacated several years, 
But quick to give Jehovah back His own 
When to His more authentic hopes and fears 
We lent our humble voice by proclamation), 
Convince the man, who, having done these things, 
% Sits in this chair and contemplates the past, 
That all has not been futile, and the wings 
Of Victory have fluttered not at last 
Beyond the lamp of action to the void, 
And the eternal darkness of achievement. 
I ll not dispute that Alexander sighed 
For other worlds to conquer, knelt and cried 
At Anaxarchus feet (not having one 
Completely in his hold) ; but grant it done 
And all the stars of Heaven so subdued 
Before the Sun of Macedon, then he 
Must sigh for Asias of Infinity, 
And into Bacchic lethargy needs sink 
Lest for a moment he should stop to think, 
And on the walls of Ether break his sword. 

But 1 must rouse. ... So much has been achieved, 

For Homers of the day to celebrate, 

That all their little odes must be believed 

Which make of me the instrument of Fate 

And ultimately doubtless will proclaim 

My visits to a house of evil fame 

As factors incubating policy. , 

I wonder, now, which first impulsive act 

Will be acclaimed the great deciding fact 

To bring me to the throne. ... A few will touch 

The day I slipped from Lindenberger s clutch, 

And split his strength at Coblenz and Cologne; 

Some will, of course, go further back until 

I bend Geneva s council to my will, 

And in the streets of Avignon begin 

To mobilise the army of Turin ; 

The Gauls among them almost to a man, 



Will place the day when Fontainebleau began 
And Paris knew she had another master, 
So with a haste unseemly, turned, and made 
An arch triumphal of the barricade, 
Blowing a nervous kiss to turn disaster ; 
Others, more reckless (after I am dead) 
Shall name the night my father turned in bed, 
Resuming conversation . . . after pause ; 
More will discover mine is highland blood ; 
And one, more fond of logic than the rest, 
Piling effect on cause, and cause on cause, 
Will reach at length the all-pervading mud, 
From which deposit he, deducing Flood, 
Will pitch the Ark, and ultimately lose 
His argument in Neolithic ooze. 

Yet there is none among them who will trace 
The worm of discontent which rots the core 
Of this Imperial apple ; none will know 
The day, the place I struck the fatal blow 
That sunders me from my Australian shore. 
Ten, it is twenty years since we put out 
Between the Heads, and several, rich in mind, 
The wisdom of the war began to doubt 
In thinking of the girl they left behind; 
And I was one that landed at Marseilles, 
On Genoa descended from the sea, 
Saw the assault on Pisa droop and fail, 
And spent a dirty summer guarding rail, 
A Sergeant-Major of the Infantry, 
Jaunty (with wholly non-commissioned pride 
That would not for a Marshal stand aside 
And quelled a tavern nightly . . . till it sunk 
Submerged, in wine, and I was truly drunk), 

Roused from a stupor, stumbling blindly home, 
Supported on a comrade s reeling shoulder, 
He on the road to London, I for Rome, 
While the moon faded, and the air grew colder, 
Falling to curse, and standing up to swear, 
He in a burst of sudden anger striking, 
I with a tunic torn and shoulder bare 
Throwing him rather harder than his liking, 
He in his madness dragging from -its sheath 
The bayonet, for both of us to grapple 
Until a random thrust from underneath 
Slits up his throat below the Adam s apple. . . 

So in a moment I have killed a friend, 
Cut every tie that binds me to the past, 
Abandoned love, to journey to the end, 
And reach the throne of Loneliness at last. 



One letter came, I tore it up unopened, 
On the Ligurian bosom cast another. . . . 
The vows of love are better left unsaid 
When for a token you have killed her brother. 

What s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba 
That I should weep for her? I must suppose 
She too has gone a journey with the rose, 
And withered into marriage, slept, and sinned 
Against my memory, as marital task, 
Or else, without the bond, as act of grace, 
All unrecorded in her pretty face, 
Discretion s latest triumph in the mask. 

But love, for all that he s a boy, fights on 

And in my breast some retrospective hope 

Ponders the ruins ever and anon, 

And recreates a City, built on this ; 

The fragrance of a flower and a kiss, 

The softness of a throat, and two brown eyes. . . 

Then for a space I am no longer wise, 

Bid her not dead, her sleeping brother rise, 

Embark with me the ship that left for home 

When England s and the Empire troops withdrew 

In virtue of the three months Peace of Rome. 

Again I see that immemorial blue 

Which men call Sydney Harbour, and the Gods, 

Withheld until belief in them had died 

As earnest that if weary Homer nods 

Historians should not conclude he lied. 

And so, with ardent wooing, am I come 
Before the altar, then to double bed, 
Deaf to the trumpet, hearing not the drum, 
Remembering perhaps, on Friday nights 
When veterans of war discuss their ale, 
The heightened glory of a hundred fights, 
The rioting, the jests that will not fail 
t And every now and then the luckless dead; 
Until the recollection of a wife 
Brings me, through unbought butter, back to life. 


Love in a cottage ; candles in the dark 
Of loneliness, a child to clasp the knee, 
Three meals a day . . . O, undiscerning clerk, 
Who ever voiced the wish to change with me? 

What can I show commensurate with his 
Freedom in bondage? All his life is ruled 
From this day till tomorrow until that 
Falls on the Friday of his funeral. 



Bread to be won, and, being won, be eaten ; 
Clothes to be bought, and being purchased, worn; 
Children to get, and being got, be beaten; 
Lips to be kissed, and being kissed, forsworn. . . . 

Let him but look, and he can find direction, 
And grumbling through his life he onward goes 
Convinced that he has not made the best selection 
But satisfied as long as someone knows. 

So will he stand him in a frozen trench, 
Knee-deep in water, thimble-deep in rum, 
Fighting Italians this year, next year French, 
Content provided that his orders come, 

Not caring much if God is on his side 
Or if He shelters neutral in Monaco, 
But swearing that his soul is crucified 
If he be left without his own tobacco; 

So will he perch him on an office stool 
And cast up lines of figures into years 
Content if someone checks his double rule 
And buoys his heart with those mysterious fears 

Of his employers private conversation 
Which the absorption of a little beer 
Transmutes into a righteous indignation 
Finding expression there but never here. 

And so the least-born citizen of all 
Goes onward with the firmness of the great, 
Serene that should, by chance, the heavens fall 
Someone will tell him how to put it straight. 

j^ (Incomplete and unrevised) 


Mezzotint artist unknown ; 
Date about seventeen-thirty ; 
Foxed ; somewhat rusty in tone ; 
The margins deplorably dirty ; 

Subject the death of a King, 

Limned with meticulous care. 

From his lively view of the thing 

One would think that the artist was there. 

Commissioned, no doubt, to be hung 
Overhead young Oxonian blades 
When Jacobite ballads were sung 
In their City of beautiful shades. 



See how he draws in for truth 
A mischievous boy with his dog, 
And the venturesome hand of a youth 
Who fondles the breasts of his Mog. 

Perhaps these were never baptized 
In Anglican order and station 
But sprang from that parish capsized, 
Unsanctified imagination. 

Yet we must grant them a soul 
To swear to a fact with conviction, 
Faith dare not fail to enroll 
The witnesses of Crucifixion. 

For as the quick centuries pass 
In confusion of monarchs and numbers, 
While, tombstones grow into the grass 
And garrulous Memory slumbers, 

Prints of the time will be rare, 
And at figures commensurate priced : 
Hindu wits will debate debonair 
Whether Charles be not Peter or Christ 

Engraved by a Dutchman in dress 
That accords with his own country fashion. 
Blind faith fumbling out to express 
The naivete of its passion. 

But the boy and the dog and the rascal, 

The girl, will be more than content 

Theugh they do not know Charles from Pascal, 

Sexagesima from Lent 

To stand with recorded existence 

Within some antiquary s brain 

True dead have no better resistance 

To nothing, and protest is vain. 

And when the Archangel, of Mildew 
Shall dampen them out from the eye 
I trust him to honour extinction 
With the pale mezzotint of a sigh. 

Feb.-March 1932 (Unrevised} 
* Written on death bed. Print, of course, non-existent. 




A Fantastic Play in Verse 


Spoken by a young man in a careless manner; he smokes a cigarette, his 
dress is modern, but his enunciation is clear and sharp. He appears before the 

I speak the Prologue, and I hope to find 

A lodging in the mansions of your mind 

For the poor creatures, made of words, and hollow, 

Who in my footsteps presently will follow. 

Vent, if you wish, displeasure on my head. 

I live, and oare not : they, alas, are dead, 

And may not care, but yet, who knows, your praise 

Might breathe a restless stirring in their days, 

And shades regret the shadows once they cast, 

As dead leaves rustle, though the wind has passed. 

So praise or damn. . . . 

[The speaker goes to move off the stage, then returns. 

But hold, I quite forgot, 
My mission was to tell you what is not, 
As well as that which is upon our stage. 
Pay not your pennies for a printed page 
Of names and nonsense. Give but half an ear 
From neighbours scandal, and I ll make it clear. 

Conceive that in the country of the dead, 

That bourn to which all travellers are sped, 

They journey on for ever in the state 

Maintained by them, when Death, exclaiming "Mate!", 

Rose from the table, leaving them to find 

Whichever way they moved, that way was* blind. 

[He walks off slowly. 
I ll leave you now, I ve other fish to fry. 

[In tones of surprise. 
Me stop to see the show ? Not I ! 

[Casually, almost in the wings. 
Yet if, in all things else, my prologue fails, 
Twill point the moral of adorning tales. 


SCENE. The interior of an inn in the country of the Dead. The room is lit 
by oil lamps in the fashion of antiquity. A door in the left front. Another at 
right rear. A fire burns in the right front. There are two chairs round it, and a 
mirror on the wall next to it. A table in the centre of the room, with a couple of 
old-fashioned chairs. Behind this a stairway leads from the room to a landing 



which gives to left and right on a number of rooms, and makes a balcony which 
overlooks the scene. The stage is deserted. 

A rumble of wheels is heard, and the clip-clop-clop of horses hoofs. Then 
a knocking at the left door. Enters from the right an old man with a lamp, 
carrying jangling keys in his hand. He is dressed in a loose white robe, and is a 
counterpart of Charon. He grumbles as he crosses th-e room. 

HOST OF THE KEYS. Is all the world a traveller tonight? 

\.The knocking continues. 
Confound the noise they re making. 

[He reaches the door and unbars it. 

Yes, all right, 
1 can t be quicker. 

IT he door opens inwards. 

You are welcome, sir. 

[He ceases grumbling and washes his hands in greeting. 
A sorry night it is for men to stir i 

Abroad : but come, be seated at the fire 
And we will wait upon your least desire. 

[An OLD MAN, of a dingy appearance, enters, followed by a disrepu 
table looking man-servant. He takes his black cloak from his 
shoulders, and gives it to the man, and he is seen dressed in a very 
dilapidated costume of a gentleman of the eighteenth century. His 
linen and lace are dirty. His ruffles are greasy, and his jacket 
stained with food and wine. In his hat is pinned a withered white 
rose. He removes his hat, and shuffles forward and sits by the fire, 
and puts out his hands to the blaze. His fingers are long and thin, 
and bony, his face brown and lined, he has a scanty grey beard. 

OLD MAN. See to the carriage, Thomas. 

[The servant goes out the right door. He turns to the HOST OF THE 
KEYS, who listens, then goes out to the right. 

Send in the wine, 
That I may warm these palsied limbs of mine. 

[His mien is drooping, as he stares into the fire. 
Strange are the thoughts which firelight always gives ; 
Man is a flame that kindles, blazes, lives, 
Burns to an ash, then dwindles, flickers, dies. 
THE WOMAN. And women, sir, are not made otherwise. 

[He turns, and behind him stands an old and wrinkled woman, in a 
loose robe, open sandals on her feet, a cord at her waist. Her hair 
is bound and caught up in the classical fashion with a dirty piece of 
faded blue ribbon. She has once been very beautiful, and there are 
faint traces in her face. She sets a big leather bottle of wine and 
several drinking cups made of silver on the table, one of which she 
fills, and offers it to the OLD MAN. 

THE WOMAN. Our beauty is but fuel for your flame, 

And so consumed, a half-remembered name, 

We quarrel for possession of those lips 

To which we once would deign but finger-tips. 



OLD MAN. Good woman, I am now too old for lies, 
You speak the truth. Come read it in these eyes, 
Which kindled once at every pretty dress, 
And for a night were faithful more or less. 
But let my years be courteous to age, 
Since Youth neglects us both. 

[He draws up a chair in a ceremonious fashion, and achieves a 
courtly bow. He presses the cup upon her. 

I am your page, 

Madame, be seated. You will take I trust 
A cup of wine? My lady, come, you must. 


SHE [taking it]. I thank you, sir, as I have thanked before 

The sons of kings, alas, and many more. 


HE. Add to your princes yet another one. 

I am a king whose reign has not begun, 

And rjever will, although in years I range 

Beyond the limits of dynastic change. 

SHE. Then let me pay due homage to your fame, 
O crownless one, by watching close the flame 
Wherein you must describe, as each appears, 
The princely phantoms of the faded years. 

HE. I see a king upon a throne in France ; 
The waves about my venturing vessel dance, 
The torches wave in darkness ; faces gleam, 
The Highland pipers play. . . . 

[He fetches a sigh, and pauses. He looks at his companion, who is 
staring into the fire and does not appear to have noticed that he 
has stopped. 

Alas, in dream. 

But all your thoughts have wandered far from me, 
To distant ways where they have longed to be 
Through all these irksome hours in living bound. 
Let me stand also on that holy ground. 

[He smiles gently, and she starts from her reverie. 

SHE. Then you must do what no Greek ever could, 
Unless he came in peace, or Horse of wood, 
Enter the walls of Troy, and near my side 
Watch all the sons of Priam, in their pride 
* Returning home from battle. Hector, first, 
Of all the Grecian scourges counted worst, 
Paris, then Deiphobus near him placed, 
Whose bed in turn the yielding Helen graced. 
Woman are fashioned thus But now the last, 
The fairest and the youngest Prince goes past. 
Troilus, O Troilus, pity in her shame . . . ! 


[She stops, and breaks off, as though she had said too much already, 
then continues. 

A foolish woman peering in a flame. 

HE. Fear not, Cressid, that ancient string to touch, 
For I am old, and have forgotten much. 
Time has outworn in turn the walls of Troy, 
And all I gleaned about them when a boy. 

[She stands, when he says her name, and covers her eyes as though 
to ward a blow, and looks sadly away. The OLD MAN takes the 
hand which hangs at her side, and raises it to his lips. She begins 
to sing, in a voice which is still sweet. 

SHE. I sing of love, that weak and hapless dies 
When lip no longer clings to lip, and eyes 
Seek not their image in another s gaze. 
A woman s but a plaything made in jest 
For man to hold and take into his breast 
When he grows tired of hunting all his days. 
I was a woman, Troilus ; I was sent 
From Trojan walls unto my father s tent 
And Diomedes sought me. I was young. 
Forget the ardent body that must live ; 
Troilus, my heart, untouched, is yours. Forgive, 
And if you care, remember. I have sung. 

[She passes out at the rear door, at the same time as the sound of 
footsteps on the pavement outside is heard: she takes the wine 
bottle with her. There is a knocking at the door, and the HOST OF 
THE KEYS appears once more, still grumbling and rubbing his eyes 

HOST. Will this infernal traffic not be done? 
My day s no sooner ended than begun. 

[He unbars the door and swings it open. 

Come in, good sirs. A chilly night, but fine. 
Make yourselves easy, while I send for wine. 

[He goes out again with a /angle of keys. The OLD MAN has not 
bothered to turn his head and look at the newcomers, one of whom 
is in the dress of a Trojan warrior, the other in the fighting dress 
of a Highland clansman of the 45, Maclean Clan Tartan. Both are 
young, in their early twenties. They throw helmet and bonnet on 
the table, and THE TROJAN comes across and stretches out his hands 
to the blaze, while the OLD MAN stares on, unheeding. 

THE TROJAN. Will you not share the blaze? [Turning] Draw near. . 

THE HIGHLANDER [shaking his head]. Your Southern blood is not so used, 

I fear, 

To cold, as mine, for I have herded sheep 
When on my native hills the snow was deep, 
And with my plaid about my shoulders wound, 
Have settled me to sleep on open ground. 



[The OLD MAN turns half round, but then resolves his thoughts once 
more into the fire. 

But you were saying, just before we came 

Into the room, your eldest brother s name 

Is also mine. Then I to you am strange 

By so much less, for Custom, hating change, 

Through him will love me more, and ready tongue? 

Call first on me to hear his praises sung. 

THE TROJAN. But one is dearer than my brother s yet, 
The name my lips will last of all forget. 

[He turns and sees CRESSIDA, who stands in the doorway, bearing 
wine. Her lips are parted, she clutches at her breast and is deeply 
moved, and then advances slowly, like Patience on a monument 
smiling at Grief. \ 

CRESSIDA [in a light tone]. And could that name by any chance be mine? 

THE TROJAN [looks into her eyes and sighs]. Woman, I sing of fairer lips 
than thine. 

[She bites her^ip, is pale, places the wine on the table and turns sadly 
away towards the fire. The OLD MAN now turns, and seeing her, 
puts out a kindly hand, and draws her to the chair at his side. She 
is still watching THE TROJAN, who fills a cup for himself and THE 
HIGHLANDER, who sits doivn at the table. THE TROJAN drains the 
cup and declaims. 

THE TROJAN. I was a prince of dreams ; my little realm 

Was made of vows and kisses, sealed by token. 

I saw my sleeve upon a Grecian helm, 

And knew that I was lost, my kingdom broken. 

And so I fled remembrance of the past 

With broken lovers friends, a sword, a shield, 

When Honour, fighting near us at the last, 

Beckoned to Death, who led m^ from the field. 

I drove her image out of thought to perish 

On trackless plain and unremembered hill, 

But never would my heart refuse to cherish 

The frail, the false, but fallen, fairer still. 

Could I but look again into her eyes 

My broken fetters Cressicfr would renew, 

And I not wish for freedom to be wise, 

But rest content, unknowing false from true. 

THE WOMAN. O Troilus, prince of love forever young, 

I hear your voice ; my wasted heart is wrung, 

And dim with tears I look and see the boy 

That every woman loves. . . . The gates of Troy 

Have crumbled down with me to withered dust, 

But somewhere your Cressida lives. . . . 

[In a decisive tone, as if to convince herself. 

She must. 



TROILUS. Who speaks? Your face is lost in shadow, see 

[He looks in her face and shakes his head. 
I know you not. 

CRESSIDA. Alas, you know not me? 

[She turns to the OLD MAN, who nods his head as if to give assent to 
an unvoice^ question. 

CRESSIDA. I ... was a woman in the Grecian camp, 
Who forgetfulness to heroes lent. 

[She pauses, then continues in a firmer tone. 

For each I lit the warrior s nuptial lamp, 
Then took my path into another tent. 
But Cressida, the woman Troilus knew, 
Loved him for all her life. . . . 

[Her voice breaks. She falls silent. The OLD MAN turns to TROILUS. 

OLD MAN. She died with you, 

And ever since no poet fails to tell 

Of how the cry was raised of Troilus killed, 

And Cressid wandered wildly out, and fell, 

Until the very Gods were touched, and willed 

The death she longed, to ransom her from shame. 

Now love eternal s plighted in hjer name 

Her waywardness is but an evil dream, 

A mortal stain which dyes the crystal stream 

Of beauty to a most pathetic shade 

Of frail humanity, that will not fade 

Until there s no more pleasure in a kiss. 

Go, seek her still, young man. Remember this. 

A rose may lose a petal to the wind, 

Would Troilus say the rose had thereby sinned 

And hold her sweet no more, and not a rose? 

TROILUS. Continue not, nor think that Troilus knows 

Wisdom no deeper in his ghostly part 

Than on the earth inflamed his jealous heart 


O, sooner will the lark forget to sing, 
Or build his nest within the swaying grass 
Than I forget the evening when I chanced 
To stray abroad, and saw Cressida pass. 
The river will remember not the rain, 
The blossom will forget to bend the bough 
In each returning springtime, ere I wish 
For other lips than hers I long for now. 

[He stands with clasped hands. As the song ends, CRESSIDA vanishes 
through the doorway. THE HIGHLANDER comes forward. 

THE HIGHLANDER. Then, Troilus, you and I must look together 
Down all the timeless roads among the dead, 
I for a rose that flourished in the heather, 
The bonnie prince for whom my blood was shed. 



[The OLD MAN raises his eyebrows, turns in his seat, and addresses 
himself to THE HIGHLANDER. THE TROJAN steps back. 

OLD MAN. The roads of death are long with years, and strange, 
For men grow old, while even princes change. 
Illusion paints the haggard face of Truth 
With scarlet patches for a while, but Youth 

[Stages at his hands. 

Cannot for long conceal within our clay 
The gaunt articulation of decay. 
But who are you? Perchance my wisdom lies, 
And with your prince it may be otherwise. 

THE HIGHLANDER [proudly, his hand on sword ]. My name is Hector, and 

my Chief Maclean 

Of Druimnin : on Culloden s heath I fell. 
My father and my brothers all were slain 
And there we lay together. It is well ; 
For now I roam the country of the dead, 
Seeking the Prince for whom I fought and died, 
That I may guard for evermore his head, 
And turn the swords of evil from his side. 
Tearlach is brave, and generous, and true, 
His eyes are merry, but his path is sown 
With shadows which forever I pursue, 
Until at length we win him back his own. 
I seek my Prince, to bid him to return, 
And rule again our hearts. For well he knows, 
At his dear name they leap, and fiercely burn, 
And redden with their blood his spotless rose. 

OLD MAN [in a harsher voice]. But if he knew so much, Maclean, what then? 
Your Prince grew old the same as other men. 


He fled the stricken field whereon you fell ; 

His brave appearance was a hollow shell 

That hid corruption, vanity, and vice, 

And all he ventured once he dared not twice. 

His country and his sword he soon forgot, f 

Honour, disused for drink, was left to rot, 

And women made his -ruin. So he died, 

A craven waste of spirit in its pride. 

Out of his cup he drank the very lees, 

Disgrace, and dissipation, and disease. 

MACLEAN [angrily]. I ll not believe it, sir. You make a jest 

To try the Highland heart within my breast. 

But when I think of Tearlach s laughing face, 

His fiery vigour, and his warlike grace, 

I know a tongue that s false from one that s true, 

And I d as lief believe that he were you. 



OLD MAN [half to himself}. The cut is keen, and cruel, not unkind, 
Truth lurks in jest, and Love, they say, is blind. 

[CRESSIDA emerges from the doorway, where she has been listening 
in the shadows. She has a lamp in her hand. 

CRESSIUA. But I advance that it were better so. 
The night is late, and withered shades must go 
And leave the world for thers to discuss 
Who have their, youth, and no more need of us. 

[She appeals to the old man. 
But first, my friend, you owe it to the days 
When you alike were young, and went the ways 
Of high endeavour, to remove the shame 
You cast, in jest, upon the royal name. 
For loyal hearts are brittle, being pure, 
And broken once, but dully may endure. 

[The OLD MAN rises and turns to go with her, then speaks to 


OLD MAN. Forgive me : Tarn old, and Age must jeer, 

For beauty is that living thing we fear. 

It makes long days grow bitter with regret 

For what we were, who will be lower yet, 

When, mind and hope and honour past and gone, 

A dribbling brutish mouth lives blindly on. 

Fear for your Prince no longer. In his prime 

The Gods recalled they loved him. It was time. 

The Stewart cause, the Stewart rose, had shed 

Its fairest petals; Great MacBain was dead, 

MacGillivray, MacLachlan, slept at last, 

The forest flowers were falling thick and fast 

When Tearlach called the remnant to his side, 

And, making front against the advancing tide, 

They stood, until the wave of battle crept 

Over and past, and all the heroes slept. 

MACLEAN [eagerly and impulsively}. I thank you, sir. I knew it would be so, 
When early in the fight Death laid me low ; 
- And, like a groom that hastens to his bride, 
I ll travel on, until at Tearlach s side 

[Drawing his claymore, and brandishing it in the air. 
I stand and wave my claymore in his name. 

TROILUS {.coming forward and standing at his side}. And I ll not rest until 

the burning flame 

That Cressid lit within my breast, shall cast 
Its golden radiance on the lonely past. 

[CRESSIDA and the OLD MAN move slowly up the stairs, she with a 
lamp, he carrying his hat. The young men return to the table and 
pour out ivine. 

CRESSIDA. I ll light your steps. Come. Let us now depart, 
For legends may not claim a breaking heart, 



And we must rest content that young desire 
Retrieves so fair an image from the mire 
Of worthlessness in which our living closed. 

THE PRETENDER [as they reach the balcony and turn to look back]. The Gods 

must laugh who such a thing disposed. 
Alas, that we were weak and lived too long. 
Their hearts were true, and as their love was strong, 
Eternal hope will spring within their breast, 
And they be happy in an endless quest 
Of lovely things which ttoey will never find. 
The desolation of a sated mind 
They will not know, Cressida. It was wise 
To buy their kingdom with a pack of lies. 

[MACLEAN is giving a toast below. His foot is on the table in Gaelic 

MACLEAN. Come, fill the cup, and pledge with me in wine, 

The bravest prince of all his Royal line. 

TROILUS. I drink; and now on Hector I will call. 

To Cressida, the loveliest of all. 

[As they drink, THE PRETENDER takes the rose from his bonnet, and 
hands it to CRESSIDA. She kisses it, and binds it with ribbon from 
her hair. Together they lean and watch. 

CRESSIDA. How foolish, yet how beautiful it seems. 
THE PRINCE. We were but flesh, an/i now are dreams. 

[CRESSIDA throws the rose down upon the table as the curtain falls. 
It rises immediately, and shows, in the place zvherc the OLD MAN 
and the OLD WOMAN had been standing, a young and beautiful 
woman, and at her side, the^gallant and handsome figure of Prince 
Charles Edward Stewart, as he appeared at the time of the 45. 
He is in Highland dress, and she in the robes of Trojan antiquity. 
A silvery light streams down upon them. CRESSIDA throws a kiss 
to TROILUS, who has run forward and stands looking eagerly up at 
her, with the rose in his hand. THE PRINCE is smiling as he looks 
down on MACLEAN, who is turned towards him, one foot still on 
the table, and his claymore drawn and flourished in the air. 
The young men raise their cups to their lips as the curtain falls 







Now Virgin Youth in 1944 

Leaves textbook s neatness early, has elderly hands, 

Brittle nails, the assertive flourish of fists 

That lathe and corrosive have battered into function. 

The tram that cruises through the restive suburbs 

Contains him nightly. He straphangs or squats, 

Talking his splendid squalid pictures framed 

In gestures sensual as a soldier s joke. # 

No regent or heir presumptive, he already 
Beardless has seized his kingdom ; see his subjects 
The big-hipped girl, the international scene, 
Jive and the Public Library, love, the machines, 
The tussle in the Union, what ll-happen-next?, 
Horror of death, pity for the undersexed. 

There s no delinquent here, but one whose plans 
Love s hands and wisdom s never ground to lock 
With common sprocket, whose own violent urge 
Must arbiter all impulse, one whose pledge 
Must be rephrased and freshly sworn each day. 
His only lexicon his comrades laughter, 
The lonely night, the vocab. of defeat. 

War he knows well, not the newsreel s cushioned stress, 

But in terms of the missing cousin who came on raids 

In the city s subconscious, the luscious cafe s posterior, 

The lucrative alley, whcrtaught him to smoke and speak 

A curious syntax more intricate than Greek. 

His nursery rhyme was Production s humming of haste. 

Was he not made of war, of war s neglect, 

By sweaty crowd, political elan, 

By cramp of bone, by critical supply 

Of lazy goods delicious unto youth? 

Oh you who in silver past could meander with languour 

Through y@ur youth s untrammelled districts, gauge carefully 

The raw smell of his conduct and his slang ; 

See that. your eye and your rule be true to- his time. 

He is excelsior with rivet and girder. He climbs the depths. 

And he comes, when jremor and shellburst have rocked away, 

To weld hard history in the shining air. 


1 38 1 




(A further extract from George Gordon McCrae s 
papers, made by kind permission of Mr Hugh McCrae) 

It was for this decade that our Poet-physician Patrick Moloney 
proudly claimed the title of "the Golden Age of Australian Literature". 

The cords of the lyre in his case, like the bow-strings of Phoebus- 
Apollo, were not always tense. It was not so much what he sung that 
counted." . . . "Saturate of his theme", it appears possible that he 
had believed (as many another has done) that he had committed to 
writing and published strophes only recited to his "fit audience of a 
few". So it came to pass that Moloney was less known to the world 
as a poet than physician, though he presented, like Oliver Wendell 
Holmes, a happy blend of both. The few of his pieces that found their 
way into print bore, the hall-mark of genius, fresh, clean, well-rounded 
and unaffected altogether ; in short, with all that charm of modesty 
which bespoke the man. Here to describe him a few words must 
suffice. Picture to yourselves a young fellow of something over six 
feet, of erect carriage, stout and florid, head of a classic model set well 
upon a pair of broad shoulders, the eyes large, of a deep blue and 
slightly prominent ; nose straight and long but shapely, the lips full and 
sensuous, barely concealed by a thin moustache (otherwise he was 
clean-shaven). He had an abundance of dark, wavy hair which just 
escaped being black, and trimmed in a manner more suggestive of the^ 
professional man than of the poet. His expression was altogether 
benevolent and in his smile a certain fascination that won upon his 
audience great or small. His voice, for so large a man, was soft and 
cultured. The pleasure of conversing with him was surely enhanced 
when he recited among ourselves other fellows verses or prose-even; 
but, for a treat, it certainly was to be a%listener at one or other of his 
lectures, which by the way were "few and far between". I never, to my 
recollection, heard him sing, but assuredly the singer s face was his, 
and he being a poet and master in rhythm, it is needless to add that he 
had the musician s ear. He delighted in Grand Opera and at this 
period Lyster was giving the untravelled Australians the time of their 
lives. . . . One was always knocking up against him whether in 
stalls or pit or in the crush-room of the old "Royal" with "Africaine" 
or "Norma" or "Sonnambula" in the air, or even the more homely 
"Bohemian Girl" or the "Figlia del Reggimento", with the deep-voiced 
Emile Coulon in full war paint. 



Although his circle of acquaintance professional and personal 
was a wide one, his aspirations, his struggles and his performances 
were best known to a small inner circle of friends who knew best how 
to appreciate his disposition and his work. 

Big, genial, jovial and hearty, he was, being Irish by near descent, 
blessed with the happiest sense of humour and a fondness for a good 
joke, as well as with a wit of the keenest and yet the most amiable, but 
there was a peculiar savour attaching to his letters which it was 
impossible to read without confessing to their charm ; some fraught 
with an elegant and thoughtful criticism, others charged with rich and 
poetic imagery, others again bubbling over with the purest bonhommie. 
All these too expressed with the freshness of youth (sound mind in 
sound body) bright and incisive, kindly and hospitable. Why are we 
denied a few volumes of these letters in our Pacific Library here? And 
he too our Australian Goldsmith ! Too late now to inquire. Several 
lost or mislaid. Some people too have so rooted a habit of destroying 
letters as soon as read, that supposing even a collection made of the 
letters surviving it might hardly fill a single octavo volume. 

Apology is unnecessary for presenting this brief mention of Moloney 
before the recollections of his more-published confreres, seeing that it 
is he and no other who became the author of the phrase (since classic) 
"The Sixties, the Golden Age of Australian Literature". 

In so far as the "Golden Age" term concerned Victoria, one might 
say at more or less risk of contradiction that it mainly applied to a 
coterie in Melbourne. ... It was no syndicate, not even an association 
with "Limited" attached to its designation : just a knot or club of a few 
young fellows engaged in "cultivating literature on a little oatmeal". 
. . . Without attempting to fix its number or to hazard a guess at its 
supporters from without, say the Suburbs or the Bush, one may 
remark that the five principal and original Members were "Orion" 
(Richard Henry Hengist) Home, Henry Clarence Kendall, Adam 
Lindsay Gordon, Marcus Clarke, Dr Patrick Moloney, Richard 
Birnie. With the exception of Birnie we were all, myself included, 
"Yoricks" early members of the "Yorick" Club in fact, and whose 
stationery of the period, as I remember, was embossed with the 
"Chandos-bust of Shakespeare". Myself an early member, I wonder 
whether the cognizance be carried down to the present day. 

The Yorick primarily and purely a literary club, it was held 
requisite that any person put up for Election should exhibit in evidence 
of qualification some book, treatise, poem or pamphlet, etc., of which 
he was the author. . . . 



It seeming good in later days to relax the qualification clause a 
little, persons of literary tastes and leanings though not themselves 
literary came to be admitted within the charmed circle. The stage 
came to be very fairly represented, the Medical profession followed, 
Artists fell in gladly, the journalists we had with our other poor from 
the beginning, but one day when the name of the Chief Commissioner 
of Police appeared on the Notice board the majority were filled with 
astonishment and all sorts of questions pertinent to the occasion (if 
impertinent in themselves) were asked, and, as this as well as what 
occurred in the sequel became "Town Talk", one may be excused for 
repeating it here and that without any disrespect to the Club of the 
past in which we bore our "small part". The "qualification" still 
obtaining though in a modified degree, two members, according to my 
information, were detailed to wait upon the Chief Commissioner 
(himself a man at once genial and humorous) with the view of ascer 
taining his qualifications for membership. 

The question politely but firmly put, was met at once by the terse 
and apposite reply, "Gentlemen of the Yorick, am I not the Editor of 
the Police Gazette !" They had got their answer and that with military 
promptitude ; bowed themselves out and returned to make their report. 
Soon after, the new Member was duly elected Should any modern 
doubt the accuracy of this story as given, it .might be competent for 
him to inquire at the club whether at some time during the latter 
Sixties the name of Captain Frederick Charles Standish, Rd., did not 
appear upon the roll and thereunder the title of Chief Commissioner 
of Police. He was a very busy officer and. perhaps his visits were like 
those of the angels, "few and far between". For myself I may say 
I never happened to be on the spot jjvhen he happened to look in, 
whether to taste of our curious vintages or to scribble a note on Club 
paper. Closely following on his spurred heels a select body of Police 
Officers was naturally enough to be expected, but in Gladstonian phrase 
they were "conspicuous by reason of their absence". What charm the 
Yorick might have held for them is unknown to the present deponent 
unless possibly that they believed we kept in addition to poets, 
essayists and poetasters a circulating library with all the latest novels, 
not to mention a nee plus ultra brand of whisky. Among our early and 
regularly qualified members was George Augustus Walstab. Attached 
formerly to the dashing troop of Cadets affiliated to the Mounted 
Police Force "Consule Planco" (for Plancus read MacMahon, after 
wards "Eques") but serving afterwards in 1857 with Richardson s 
Horse during the suppression of the Indian Mutiny in the latter stages, 



he fought with distinction but was put out of action by an ugly wound 
in one of his feet from a matchlock ball. Before joining us he had 
served a brief apprenticeship to journalism and had for a short time 
edited the Calcutta Englishman, besides publishing a romance or two 
of his own. "A fellow of infinite jest", or to put it in another way, 
"excellent company" Marcus and he together, with a knot of young 
fellows about them, and one was cock-sure of a merry evening, all 
"shop" being flung to the winds. But in any case it was tacitly under 
stood among us : it had become an unwritten law . . . that "shop" 
should never be suffered in the "Yorick". The main "shop" was 
peripatetic, given out "chemin faisant", "ambulando", as you will, but 
where it came by parcels on the footpaths and roadways it massed 
itself in some of the caravanserai-restaurants of Collins and Bourke 
Streets. There we had our Lindsay Gordon, our Marcus and our 
Birnie, our Orion, our Moloney at their brightest and their best. 
Kendall was, for the most part, when of our company, a good listener 
or an occasional inter jector, but to get him rightly was to take a quiet 
walk with him and have him all to one s self. Not that Kendall was 
in the least deaf, but, like a person partially deaf who failed to hear 
properly where currents of different voices crossing completely spoiled 
conversation with the person just beside him, he (like Gordon) much 
preferred a tete-a-tete.* . . . ^ 

It is to be observed, however, that Kendall made the cleanest 
breast of it over his Letters, which for my own part I was privileged 
to receive for years, letters critical, letters personal, letters with 
political allusions, opinions of men, friendly and otherwise, ideas 
touching this or that, others again perfect salmagundis. . . . Extremely 
sensitive, he craved sympathy, and where he received it never was a 
fellow more grateful, but he ^Iso not only cherished but nourished 
what sense he had of injuries real or imagined that^he had received on 
his way through the world. Hard indeed to talk him out of the purely 
imaginary injuries which while the feeling lasted were as real for him 
as the actual. "Genus irritabile !" as old Birnie would have remarked, 
waving his huge silver-headed Malacca in mid air like the truncheon of 
a drum-major. . . . 

Richard Birnie was certainly one o f the most striking among the 
older members of the coterie, barrister, essayist, weaver of verses and 
what not besides. He was of us for there was scarcely a man of us 
that he had not made a friend, yet in the sense of being a member of 
the Yorick he did not really belong to us. 

He was looked up to quite beyond being "a good fellow", as "a 
dungeon of information", an "inquire within for every thing" ; replete 



with anecdote and story, this our Citizen of the World with the tall 
napless white hat and great Malacca cane fairly bubbled over with a 
merry wit, accompanied by appropriate gesture as it was. There were 
those who accused him of upsetting conversation and drifting into 
monologue. This but served to show the tenacity of his grip of the 
subject and his guard against losing the thread of his discourse, though 
without involving a suspicion of rudeness. 

In any case his talk was as gold, compared with the aimless 
chatter of a wilderness of Society-monkeys, and, if he did on occasion 
take to his own the "lion s share" of the conversation, it came to him 
with little doubt from his habit as a lecturer. 

After a considerable timg (who shall now say how long?) passed 
in an absolute wrestle with poverty, James Smith, Editor of the Aus 
tralasian, always an appreciative friend, succeeded in getting him a 
fair living and keeping him in pocket money as well. 

He had him appointed on the Staff of the Australasian as Essay- 
writer, and it was precisely from his pulpit at the head of the 
"Essayist"-column that he lavished on an appreciative reading-public 
the treasure of a well stored mind, his keener observations on men and 
things. Learned, merry, witty, pathetic and all by turns, he kept firm 
hold on his readers. 

He was a son of Sir Richard Birnie the celebrated Bow Street 
Magistrate, favourite of the Prince Regent. Brought up in the study 
of the Law, he practised his profession with more or less of success in 
the Old Country, as also in West Australia whither he had migrated 
and where eventually he was appointed Judge Advocate General. 

It was in Perth or near it he had to experience the heaviest sorrow 
of his life in the loss of his wife to whom he was tenderly attached. 

Having no special ties then to hold him in the West, he crossed 
over to Melbourne, where, being admitted to the Victorian Bar, he 
recommenced practice bravely, and against odds amid the vigorous 
competition going on amid perhaps the most brilliant and witty set of 
barristers we had so far known, among whom Aspinall, Dawson and 
Ireland, to mention no others. 

Learned, Birnie undoubtedly was ; apt at fence and repartee, 
never at a loss for an apposite quotation or citation and yet as we 
believed never in love with a profession he had simply adopted owing 
to stress of circumstances. 

The Fairy Godmother present at his Christening should have 
marked him down for a Man of Letters instead of purveying him a 
wig and gown. It is not so often that we find the two professions 



combined in one person, but surely it was so in Birnie s case. . . . 
When he flung wig and gown aside, then it was that the Man of Letters 
stood out and ckarly revealed. . . . His acquaintances were Legion 
but his real friends might perhaps have been counted on one s fingers. 

Nor was it so much that his genius for friendship was small, 
asitfhat having suffered none can tell what in the course of his career, 
he had become not soured but wary and discriminating to a degree. 
. . . To such friends as he had made he was true and held them to 
him "with hoops of steel", whether for better or for worse. 

Like most elderly men of the world of kindly disposition, he loved 
the young . . . children very much always . . . but to my mind 
was more than happy in his relations* with young men and more 
specially so with such as happened to show signs of promise or talent. 
He had a warm affection for the young Marcus, or "the Elf" as he 
had rechristened him on account of his breezy disposition and what he 
called his "pretty and tricksy ways". A strange pair, to see them 

The one tall, old, bald and didactic though genial and amusing, the 
other a mere miniature man, young, gay, brisk and self-assertive, with 
all the world beginning to open out before him yet affecting the talk, the 
airs and the manners of his elders. These were our golden days when 
Birnie played Mentor to Marcus s Telemachus : none of us rich, none 
highly placed ; all Bohemians in grain : Socialists of the more exalted 
order, we would have pooled our narrow purses but that some must 
have held back as having so little to contribute. Thus it was duty 
with us as well as a common act of bonhommie that he who happened 
to be "flush" should "stand treat" for the small crowd all round so 
that no exceptions should be made. 

Some of us, "the Elf" leading, for we could not persuade Birnie 
to be "Yorick" or "spell his name with a Y ", as the phrase went, 
started a new Club of our own outside. 

After a crowd of difficulties surmounted we managed so as to 
secure a pied-a-terre in the lane at the back of the Argus Office. 
("Blossom s Lane" I think they called it.) The house was large 
enough for all our purposes but wanted a lot of scrubbing,* brooming 
and whitewash and a little, very little, inexpensive furniture, which 
in, we awaited the opening day or rather night. 

We moved in, "the Elf" leading as before, and unanimously 
elected Birnie Perpetual President with autocratic powers. 

* "A surprising lack of saponacity". Birnie. 



There were no laws and none of those mean little things called 
by-laws, the President s Will and Word standing always for Law. 
Officers were appointed on the spot, their several titles and duties 
prescribed, and themselves each solemnly sworn-in, using a very high- 
sounding and flesh-creeping oath supposed of the Elizabethan period 
but as likely as not an imitation cunningly worded and hot from the 
Jovian brain of the Elf. 

Marcus has already and admirably immortalized "the Cave of 
Adullam" in his story " Twixt Shadow and Shine", so there is no need 
to say more here unless I take the liberty of indicating myself as 
Comrade "Splash", a name conferred upon me by "the Elf" as 
indicating the Artist whose duty it had become to decorate the walls 
of the "Cave" with frescoes symbolic and otherwise. 

Cave-rule lasted but a few months but as we took no note of 
time in those days I find myself unable to state the date when we 
were requested by the landlord to move out as he had other views for 
the hoary and ramshackle old building. We missed it all very much : the 
mock heroics, the mock-dignity more dignified even than the real, 
with the Autocrat in the chair; the talk, the yarns, the disputations, 
the appeal to authority and the schoolboy larks and the sheer fun of 
it all. . . . There never was a second Adullam though perhaps the 
nearest approach to it was, both in and out of office hours, the head 
quarters of the Colonial Monthly (of which Marcus had become 
Editor). The office was in lower Elizabeth Street nearly opposite the 
"Duke of Rothesay" Hotel. Here, taking up my old Adullamitish 
practice, as "Splash" I decorated the better part of the walls but for 
the most part here in pencil outline boldly achieved. . . . One of 
these compositions appeared to be highly esteemed not only by the 
principal figure in it but by the comrades, who were almost all 
Adullamites to a man. It represented a remarkably dashing light 
cavalryman reining back his horse on its haunches, he himself describ 
ing fireworks in the air with his crooked sabre but as in other 
instances it was the legend which conferred the finishing touch: "Yes! 
gentlemen, it is true that I was once a policeman (Mounted Police 
man), but then ... Ye Gods! What a Policeman!!!" 

This was Walstab, who before he went out to India had served in 
the "Cadets", who in their blue and silver lace used to be the cynosure 
of petticoated Melbourne. Then again our Treasurer had a figure of 
himself on the outer side of his door representing a man in a sitting 
posture with a great gallon measure at his lips, with the legend sub 
scribed "JJ.S. in Liquidation ". 



For Messenger we had a small boy whom John Shillinglaw, 
formerly "Ancient" of the Adullamites, had named "Shrimp" : most of 
us thought that the cognomen had been even more descriptive if shorn 
of its first three letters, for useful as he was made to be in various 
directions he was Imp all over : a sort of compromise between a rouse- 
about and a waiter. His chiefest function when not running errands 
was in making a progress across the street at least once a day bearing 
a huge tin with him to the Duke of Rothesay, with whom the Colonial 
Monthly had a friendly understanding. The beer if "Colonial" was of 
the best, and punctually supplied and delivered at lunch hour. 


Do you, too, lie awake at night 
planning poems that a job you hate 
has left you too knocked-up to write? 

And swearing poetry s a waste of time 

one day, do you sweat the next 

for hours to make one perfect rhyme? 

Do you feel lonely, unable to share 
the astounding popular stock 
of ideas in bad repair? 

If once you really spoke your mind 

would there be such a hullabaloo 

that you d lose your job, be jugged, or fined? 

And are deeds that make other men tear their hair 
nothing to you, while deeds they praise 
make you despair or make you blaze? 





First follow Nature, and your judgment frame 
By her just standard, which is still the same. 

No term, throughout the course of literature, is more ambiguous 
than "Nature"; and before estimating Pope s dictum we must first 
find its meaning. What he certainly did not mean by "Nature" was 
the state of Rousseau s natural man. We know how Montaigne 
glorified the savage (it was only, I believe, a literary whim which 
made good reading), and what flaws in his picture Shakespeare had to 
find. Pope would hardly have subscribed to the doctrine of original 
virtue. His picture of the "poor Indian" then, though he may remark 
fittingly on his superiority to "proud science", in no way glorifies 
primitivism. Indeed, the allusion is made only to illustrate the maxim 
that man, however crude, can cherish hope. I doubt if the state of the 
savage had any real interest for Pope at all. 

If Pope xieant anything by a State of Nature, it was the state of 
Paradisal man. "The State of Nature was the reign of God", he says. 
In short, he adapts Vergil s Golden Age, and tints it with the shades 
of Milton s Eden. 

Pride then was not, nor arts, that pride to aid ; 
Man walk d with beast joint tenant of the shade. 

Possibly Montaigne contributed to the picture, as Elwin points 
out ; but, in any case, there is no doubt that Pope wished to conform 
the biblical story to the classical legend of the Ages of Man. His 
picture, however, has nothing of Rousseau in it. 

If such a Golden Age ever existed Pope understood well enough 
that man quickly t degenerated into a predatory animal. Using 
"Nature", then, in the sense of the primitive passions, he traces man s 
gradual formation into social gjoups by rising to "Art"- 

See him from Nature rising slow to Art ! 
To copy instinct, then was reason s part. 

What is "Art"? We find it is the "instinct" of Nature as opposed to 
the perverted "instinct" of degenerate man. That natural instinct is 
for law as, for instance, in the communities of ants and bees. 

This is the central point of Pope s conception of nature, a nexus 
of laws the breaking* of one involving the destruction of the rest. 
However blind or partial our human vision may be we must acknow 
ledge that Nature is perfect, a harmonious unit. 

All are but parts of one stupendous whole, 
Whose body Nature is, and God the soul. 



This leads us to a region far distinguished from the "Nature" of 
the Romantics. It lays stress on the philosophic, rather than the 
aesthetic, standpoint. The beauty of Nature appealed to the Romantics ; 
the order to the Augustans. With the former "Nature" produced, in 
its best aspect, a Pantheistic emotion ; in its worst, a prodigal sentv 
mentality. With the latter its best effect was a Pantheistic sublimation, 
its worst a sterile syllogism. 

Ever since man could organise his thoughts, he has tried to under 
stand Nature. Religion, however, which so often means convention, 
by reason of the theory of divine forbiddal, has used the taboo to 
produce the static element in man s quest for knowledge. This causes, , 
in its turn, the dynamic reaction. In these alternations it is the 
incidence that becomes important. When the static rules, fixation 
follows ; when the dynamic, flux. Yet in flux or fixation the belief is 
always that Nature is being followed. It is only the interpretation 
of terms that differs. 

For Pope, Nature is the fixed and perfect expression of God in 
matter the condensation of that divine fire which never varies, is 
never incomplete. W^hat we regard as imperfection is due to our 
imperfect vision. As an example of dynamism the iQth century gave 
a picture of a Nature which also was the expression of God, but an 
evolving one a nature only potentially the best of all possible worlds. 

When Pope s conception of Nature is applied to writing, we see 
at once that Nature for Pope is not so much a thing of. freedoms as 
of limits : 

Nature to all things fixed the limits fit. 

But the conception of "limits" is not that of taboos : it is the finding of 
the modus, a word which means not only the adaptation of life to 
means, but also the finding of the "golden mean" between excesses. 
In Cicero s De Senectute, Cato is an excellent example of this. What 
ever the disabilities of age he has managed to find the modus, the 
balance which makes life tolerable an8 profitable. Indispensable for 
that is the power of inward resource "for those", he says, "who seek 
all good things from their own resources find nothing ill which Nature, 
in her inevitable round, brings". This implies the following of Nature. 
"In this I am wise", says Cato, "that I follow and obey Nature as my 
best guide, and as a deity." This Nature has been mentioned just 
previously as involving a "Necessity", a fixed order to which man must 
accommodate himself by finding his modus, the counterpoise, in 
proportion to his faculties, by which he avoids extremes. 

In fact, Pope s first mention of "Nature" has nothing to do with 
what we generally understand by the term. It means "the capacity of 

* [48] 


your faculties". Some men, he says, have memory, but lack under 
standing: some have imagination but no memory: 

One science only will one genius fit, 
So vast is Art, so narrow human wit. 

When, therefore, Pope continues, "first follow Nature", we find his 
injunction perfectly logical. "Nature", he says, "is a perfect whole." 
Man is defective, not only in his faculties, but also in his use of them : 

Some to whom Heav n in wit has been profuse, 
Want as much more to turn it to its use. 

But man must try to be perfect: he must imitate Nature, making 
himself as complete a unit as he can. The means to that end is Art, 
which is simply man s way of making explicit for his own guidance 
what in Nature is implicit. Art is "Nature methodised". It does not 
matter, in this relation, whether you say that Art follows Nature 5 , or 
Nature follows Art. If you think of Nature as a complex of principles 
wrought to an uncomprehended unity by the Divine Mind, Art follows 
Nature, for Nature is then the Platonic Eidos. If, on the other hand, 
you think of Nature as expressing herself in us by a complex of 
instincts which we have to regulate, then Nature follows Art, for Art 
becomes the Eidos. 

This puts us in a better position to understand first why Greece is 
the pattern for the artist, second why Homer is "Nature". Greece is 
the great exemplar because she possessed, in far greater degree than 
Rome, the creative impulse together with the power of its government : 

Hear how learn d Greece her useful rules indites, 
When to repress, and when indulge, our flights. 

That is the Roman modus, which, however, was applied by the Romans 
more to the conduct of life than to the pursuit of art. The Greeks, 
with their winged inspiration, applied the principle no less to Art than 
to Life. That was necessary because a strong impulse involves a 
strong imposition of form. Thus criticism assumed her true function, 
that of the "Muses handmaid" that is, an illuminating, not a 
repressive, force. 

I believe Pope felt this, and that he was not merely repeating, like 
a schoolboy, Horace s 

Vos cxcmplaria Graeca 
Nocturna versate manu, versate diurna. 

. If we now find Pope stating that Nature and Homer are the same, 
we shall not imagine his meaning to be: "Homer is a glorious wild- 
flower, sprung from Nature, by some amazing intuition reflecting life 
truly and vividly." We shall expect, rather, "Homer is the greatest 
example of Nature because in him those laws which we call Art , and 



which are our attempt to approach the inner unity of Nature, are best 

How different is this from such a conception of Homer as 
Shakespeare s "Hold the mirror up to Nature" ! Troilus and Cressida 
makes it evident that he regarded Homer as presenting Nature with a 
veneer, which he felt urged to strip. We know the result a picture of 
the Iliadic figures as frivolous, boastful, cowardly, lustful. 

From such a picture, Pope would have recoiled, for in Homer s 
case the "methodising" of Nature meant the creation of the Type, 
which Pope would have gathered at once from Horace. "Achilles", 
says the Roman, "must be impatient, passionate, ruthless, fierce" in 
other words, the great characters become abiding types, in which, just 
as in the gods, certain groups of qualities are presented, removed as far 
from the particular as possible. Shakespeare said, somewhat savagely, 
in his drama : "I ll give you the men themselves." Pope replies : "What 
we want is their sublimation." That is the difference between the 
realist and the idealist, or, rather, between the concrete and the 
abstract ; and it is useless to attempt to reconcile them. 

Blake, who hated the Classics, and who pushed Romantic freedom 
beyond all "limits" into the fourth dimension, instinctively turns from 
Homer: "Every poem must necessarily be a perfect Unity, but why 
Homer s is peculiarly so, I cannot tell ; he has told the story of 
Bellerophon, and omitted the Judgement of Paris, which is not only a 
part, but a principal part, of Homer s subject." That the Iliad contains 
patches of extraneous matter none will deny, but the reason for their 
presence need not be discussed here. What none will deny, either, is 
the mastery of a tone which no subsequent work has equalled in that 
genre. Even Horace admits that Homer may nod ; but his lapses are 
rare, and never severe enough to spoil the effect of his amplitude. 

That amplitude was, however, a measured one which Blake could 
not feel, but which Pope, his antithesis, the master of "Reason" poetry, 
was admirably adapted to appreciate. His poetry has something of the 
pattern arrangement which will never be welcome to those who desire 
the free wing. Once again Blake comes in aptly: "The Gods of Greece 
and Egypt were Mathematical Diagrams": (the Laocoon Group}. 

In his remarks on Homer, Blake must have had Pope, partly at 
least, in his mind, for he concludes with : "The Classics ! it is the 
Classics, and not Goths or Monks, that desolate Europe with wars" 
(surely a reference to "and the Monks finished what the Goths begun"). 
These attitudes, the limitless and the limited, will always confront each 
other, and it is necessary that neither should be forgotten, for by 
their alternation they keep each other alive. Because of this we should 



understand Pope s poetry as he understood it. Pope would have been 
the first to say that a poet is made as well as born : but what in Pope 
was born was precisely the faculty which felt the Classical canons : 
what was made was his labour over them. Yet he was by no means 
all labour; and what of positive he gave his own generation will always 
be valid. 1 


Curled white notes, 


some to earth, 


skywards some 

on wind squalls 


bird-calls these, 


magpie cries 


to flake- falls 

of silver sound 


from the rise, 

where, high 

over pliant dark 

scrub boulders, 

a dead gum giant 

thrusts bark-stark 

shoulders, white 
, in the young light ; 

birds there, 

a bevy, 

a chevying flock, 

wind-birl despite 

and swerve and rock 

and lurch of perch, 


the shining One, 

bright gold-beaten 

wheat-golden Sun 

who, bold on earth s 

curved lip a Host, 

flames forth 

the Father, Son 

and Holy Ghost. 




WOONGANATTIE" was painted in thin black lettering on the tin trunk. 
Delia looked downward at it from the high seat of the buggy on which 
she sat, the lettering blurring and distorting through her tears. 

"Here", said the driver of the buggy, who was also the mailman 
and who was at present unwillingly escorting Delia to school in 
Woonganattie. It was shearing, and no one else had time. "Put your 
feet on it." .He juggled the trunk into position with his foot and she 
rested her black buttoned boots on it, placing them sadly and sedately 
side by side. "Aren t you going to give your folks a wave?" he asked. 

She turned and waved forlornly through the flap at the side. Her 
mother, on the back steps, her father, by the bootscraper, waved back. 
A flannel-singleted shearer washing his face in an enamel dish on a 
tripod outside the shearer s hut raised his arm and waved, too. Other 
shearers smoked outside the shed, filling in the moments before they 
must go inside. She could still feel the throb of the engines from the 
shed as they heated up. The sheep were restless in the yards. A bird 
note trembled intolerably in the air ; the pumpkin vines flaunted yellow 
flowers and the clover was tenderly green beside the smooth silver of 
the dam. It made her feel sad as she drove away from it all in the 
clear bright light of the early spring morning. A tear pressed from 
under one eyelid and slid slowly down her cheek. She turned her head 
away from the white-painted house, the gently rolling paddocks and 
resolutely faced the road ahead, a grey road, soft with the dust of a 
rainless winter, winding away for ever across the plains. With one 
hand she smoothed her green crepe dress over her thin hunched-up 
knees. It was a smart frock. She had picked it herself from the cata 
logue. "In shades of olive, rose, saxe and navy", mother had read out 
to her. "Olive", she had said. And now here she was riding to the 
end of the world in the stiff new dress, and watering it with her tears. 
Was this the outcome of picking a dress in which to be happy? It 
showed you never could tell. How many other girls were riding up or 
down Australia at this very minute, weeping down the front of their 
Sunday finery? 

The mailman s name was Tom. He was a thin, old man, with 
tea-stained whiskers and a brown neck hanging in folds above his 
collarless, striped shirt. He glanced at Delia uneasily. People haven t 
any right, he thought, sending a kid out done up like that. Them 
buttoned boots. Not worn any more, button boots aren t. Won t she 
have a time of it, landing at school in buttoned boots? 



"Don t you want to go to school?" he asked. 

"No", she answered. 

"Come, now. You ve got to be learned you know. Lessons aren t 
so bad once you get the hang of them," 

"Oh, I can do lessons", Delia replied loftily. 

"What have you got to go to school for?" 

"I m too bad to stop home any longer", she told him mournfully. 

"Bad ! You don t look bad to me." 

"Don t I? Well I am. I m awful bad. I ve given mother nerves." 

"You don t say ! What was it you did that was so bad ?" 

"Oh, everything " 

"For instance, now?" 

Delia stopped crying to pick and choose amongst her misdeeds. 
"I nearly got drowned in the dip last week", she said. 

"Pooh ! Did that once meself", replied Tom. 

"Did you? What did everyone say?" 

"Didn t say anything. They didn t know." 

"But how did you get out?" 

"Brother of mine. Big bloke. Pulled me up the side." 

"Maybe if I d had a brother 

"They re handy when you re a kid", admitted Tom. 

"Then I fell in a tank through a hole in the top. Gee it was 
terrible wet and dark 

"You seemed to be set on getting yourself drowned." 

"I ve nearly been drowned most ways", replied Delia modestly. 
"In the creek and in the dam and once in the horse-trough." 

"Kind of slimy", murmured Tom. 

"Ugh", shivered Delia, then looked at Tom suspiciously. "How 
do you know?" 

Tom nodded his head. "Me, too, once." 

Delia s eyes were bright with interest. "Have you ever been bitten 
by a snake?" she asked. 

"No. Have you?" 

"Not quite, but I pulled one out of a log by its tail one day." 

"How was it it didn t bite you?" 

"The devil looks after his own, father said." 

"I don t know as how that was a nice thing to say to a little girl", 
replied Tom thoughtfully. "Not that I m any judge. I was never a 
hand with children." 

"Didn t you have any children?" 

"Lord love us. I had ten." 

"Well how was it you never got your hand in?" 



"I can t rightly remember. It was a long time ago and I was only 
home Sundays. A mail-run used to be a mail-run in those days." 

"They couldn t have been bad like me." 

"No worse or no better if you ask me. All kids are the same. Not 
good and not bad." His hands tightened on the reins and the horses 
came to a stop. "You just take a squint back that way. See them tin 
roofs. That s the last you ll see of your place for a few months. Now 
take a look over this way, across what we used to call the prairie. 
That s McAlistar s stockrails in the distance. Shift your eyes a little 
to the north. That belt of timber, that s Munro s. And in front here, 
where the road curves by the river, that s Ryan s. Big places, all of 
them. In the old days large families were reared on them. Nine kids 
here, ten kids there, twelve somewhere else, and so on. Fine kids, too. 
What they didn t know about sheep and cattle and horses wasn t worth 
knowing, either. You couldn t ride this way this time of the morning 
then and see the plains empty on every side of you. Shut me eyes 
now and I can see them mad MacAlistar boys galloping straight for me, 
putting their horses at the fences, standing straight in the stirrups, 
their black hair waving upright in the wind. Many s the time I 
threatened to tell their father of their wild ways. And what did they 
do? Laughed at me till the morning echoed, and I guess I deserved 
it." Tom lapsed into silence and sat quietly looking at the reins in his 
thin calloused hands. Delia watched him covertly. She d heard tell 
of the McAlistar boys, too, but most of them had been dead before she 
was born. 

"You were telling me something", she said politely after a long 

"Was I ?" asked Tom, and jogged up the horses. They ambled 
forward and broke into a brisk trot, spiralling the dust softly into the 
sunny air. "I m an old man and I forget." 

"About all the children who used to be around here once", 
prompted Delia. 

"They re here no more", said Tom. 

"There s me. But I m bad." 

"I guess I d be bad, too, if I were the only little person for miles 
around." f 

"Would you?" asked Delia delightedly. 

The buggy swept down a slope and clattered over the bridge. 
Murphy s lay behind them, its roof burnished silver under the sun. 
"Time was", said Tom sorrowfully, "five little girls used to wave to 
me over the bridge railing. They used to wear pigtails and pinafores." 

"I guess it was a long time ago." 



"It was, but it weren t so quiet. Australia s a quiet place these 
days. I m not the kind to want to tell the young people anything. The 
young people always know best, I reckon. But it s kind of funny." 

"What s funny?" 

"You, for instance. You re the only little girl for miles around. 
Four places that reared families and now among them all there s only 
you. What happens ? You ve got to be sent to school because you give 
your mother nerves, and your father 

"I give him a headache." 

"There! Don t you think it s funny?" 

"No", said Delia puzzledly. "It s not funny. Not at all." 

Tom sighed. "Perhaps you re rigjit", he said. 

They went on endlessly over the winding road. Now and then 
a stunted gum flaunted its twisted trunk and abandoned curved leaves 
by the roadside, or a log hollowed greyly among the riotous spring 
grasses. They passed over culverts, and bridges that spanned water 
less creeks. There was a wayside post-office, into which Tom disap 
peared for three minutes, and a wayside pub that held him captive for 
fifteen. He came back wiping his whiskers. "They want to put a 
car on this run now, but it s going to be over my dead body they do 
it", he told Delia boastfully. 

Delia wasn t interested. "What s school going to be like?" she 

"School? Oh, school s all right. There s singing comes from there 
in the daytime. And at night the kids laugh and skylark on the lawns 
till bedtime. The sound floats across the creek and into the township. 
Look, that s the township, down there, Woonganattie. A good little 
town Woonganattie. As up to the minute as they re made. My, the 
kids are going to laugh when you hit Woonganattie in those buttoned 

"What s up with my boots?" asked Delia ominously. 

Tom looked at her. For the first time he noticed the set of her 
mouth and the light in her green eyes. 

"I guess I was wrong" he muttered. "It s not the boots." 

"What s up with my boots?" repeated Delia. 

"Nothing. Nothing." Tom averted his eyes hurriedly and, whip 
ping up the horses, they fled along the curve that led into Woonganattie, 
drawing up with a flourish in front of -the school. Delia Parkins, the 
Ten-mile Farm, Branch Creek, via Woonganattie, had arrived at 
school. No princess of old was ever delivered with more aplomb to the 
austere way of learning^ tin trunk, green crepe dress, buttoned boots 
and all. "What s up with my boots?" said the light in her eyes. She 
was twenty strong the kids everyone should have had, but hadn t. 




It is still winter on the darkening swamps 
Under the cold sweep of the western sky, 
High-arched and flawless, though the small, clear pools, 
Its gleaming splinters, on the black marsh lie. 

My way runs on to the hills across the bay 

And there the spring has come, and peace has gone ; 

In gardens dusk-deep under silver gums 

The dim, massed blossoms breathe a softness on 

The faithless air that in a day, an hour, 

Forgets the bright touch of the frosts, and then 

Is all scents, moths, and dews, and the old stir 

I am in no haste to go that way again. 

I shall not chant the worn-out dirge that tells 

How in the spring the heart s old wounds gape red, 

But winter has always been most kind to me, 

The shining season, late born and soon dead. 

These flowers grow only to a funeral 

And still behind this soft and scented mouth 

Grins the harsh skull of summer, the burnt bones 

That suck the soul unslaked through their long drouth. 

But here no petalled treachery will dare 

The night-sown acres of my lonely peace 

Or dull the rawness of the clean salt wind 

Yet my way runs on to the hills, and will not cease. 


(Gerard Manley Hopkins, born 1844) 

For creatures counter original andspare 

He glory gave to God, as we for him 

Christ-centred poet most individual and bare 

In England praised and prayed. Abrupt, strange, grim, 

The forged feature found him, as we re found by him. 

So we too take his prayer 

That Britain his dear-rare 
Have easter-dayspring break upon the dim 
ness of its ancient faith : that they with him 
Now puissant in heaven-haven of the Reward 
Effect the purpose of grace-won-outpoured : 
Mary for vernal atmosphere and Queen, for King again Our Lord. 






Poems. By Janet Beaton. (The Viking Press, Sydney. IQ44-) 

Earth Cry. By Norma L. Davis. (Angus & Robertson Ltd., 1943. 35. 6d.) 

In a Convex Mirror. By Rosemary Dobson. (D^rnock s Book Arcade Ltd., 

1 944-) 

Of these three volumes of verse by Australian women, only one is of any 
outstanding merit. The poems of Janet Beaton (Mrs. Jack Lindsay) fall into 
two main classes, the first written in an intimate, conversational style with a 
modern setting, he second romantic, decorative, inspired by things past. It is 
in these latter poems that she achieves most success. In the picture of Helen 
recreated by the gossipy old man in "Fuit Ilium" there is perhaps a too studied 
sensuality, but it is skilfully executed ; and the two Juan pieces, "Don Juan de 
Nos Jours" and "The Funeral March of Don Juan" are an attractive blend of 
realistic humour and romantic regret. They are also interesting for their cleverly 
controlled rhythms: in the first piece she uses tripping trochees: 

Since as yet I have not met them 

(Their small mouths are full of kisses 

And their eyes are full of secrets) 

I ve had no time to forget them. 

But as near as I can reckon 

They re the girls I ll love tomorrow. 

in the second she achieves an elegiac effect by the use of anapaests : 
O weep for them, sad Spanish ladies, 
Nevermore will he come through the garden 
To kiss your bright mouths in the darkness, 
To star all the night time with roses 
To scent all the night time with kisses. 

In her poems of a more intimate and personal kind, she uses flat, colloquial 
rhythms, but without transmuting them into poetry : these poems are common 
place and monotonous. I can see no psychological subtlety in such a poem as 
"Waiting in the Street" to compensate for its lack of verbal beauty : 
I ll go home and wait, 
can t think what s become of you. 
can t think. . . . 
ly head does ache, 
can t think of anything but you. 
wonder what it feels like to go mad? 
wish you d come. 

The war poems (1914-18) at the end of the book are among the least success 
ful. However laudable their sentiments of pity and anger may be, they are not 
a substitute for poetry. The mood is one of savage bitterness but it gives rise 
only to a sort of hysterical inarticulateness. Thus one poem ends with : 
I can t see anything but red. 

O God. The whole thing s rotten, rotten, rotten, 
and another : 

O Christ, his eyes, his eyes! . . . 

Altogether one is forced to the conclusion that Janet Beaton is at her best 
in poems into which strong personal emotion does not enter at all, or at any rate 
is firmly controlled, as in the charming poem "The Aspen Trees in Autumn", 
which begins as a descriptive piece but ends on a personal note : 


O dying leaves, loveliest in your decaying 

Would that I too might perish and fade in a spendthrift glory of gold, 

In a wind-blown glory of gold. 

Norma Da vis s Earth Cry has, in my opinion, met with excessive praise, 
though as a first volume it certainly deserves attention. Miss Davis is essentially 
a poet of the Tasmanian landscape, its trees and flowers, its birds and animals. 
She is haunted by its sounds and sights and odours, and is fond of blending them 
in a "synaesthetic" image, as in 

the garden s joyous shouts 
Of stabbing colour, 

I have sipped 

The nectar magpies spilled across the morn. 

but she is no detached observer ; nature arouses strong emotions in her and is 
in turn made to share her moods. This sense of kinship with Nature, a legacy 
of the Georgians, is no doubt instinctive in Miss Davis, but her expression of it 
sometimes seems to me pretentious : 

Rose-tinted in their pride, 

Flesh of my flesh, the hills rise, and my blood 
Burns in the waratah on the mountain side. 

And though a lyric poet is by nature an egotist, the constant "I" of many of these 
poems becomes monotonous. 

There is no denying that Miss Davis has a remarkable facility in the use 
of language, and sometimes a genuine felicity. She thinks instinctively in images, 
and in some of her descriptive phrases she can paint a vivid picture in a few 
words, as in 

Flat boatmen beetles rowing rhythmically 
With tiny elfin oars; 


Pansy-purple the marsh now, where the lonely 
Bittern sips the gold of the drowning moon. 

But on the whole her facility is at present dangerous ; her pen flows faster than 

her thoughts, and she is guilty of many tame or vague or even silly phrases, 

such as 

the warm earth s dark deliciousness 


starlight smooths my dress with misty hands 

and (in a poor poem on France) 

The once warm mouth that curved exquisitely 

Shows dully purple in a ghastly bruise. 

She piles image on image, sometimes spoiling her original effect; and in her 
descriptive poems epithets erwpt like measles. On the rare occasions when she 
strips her style of adjectives, as in "Prelude to Storm", the improvement is 
noticeable. Another unfortunate feature of her style is her liking for archaic 
diction : in one passage of six lines, for instance, occur "fay", " neath", "don", 
"quest" (as a verb), "glee". And like most facile writers, she can rest content 
with a weak phrase for the sake of rhyme instead of persevering until the 
demands of sense and sound are equally satisfied: thus in one poem "Farm 
Morning" we find the clumsy periphrasis "her that gave them birth" and the 
inept description "an egg of dazzling pearl". 

If one notices in Miss Davis s work the absence of any firm structure of 
thought, there is no lack of emotion, the trouble is that her emotions, like her 



adjectives, gush out too readily, with an effect sometimes of artistic insincerity, 
which is of course an entirely different thing from personal insincerity; it is the 
sort of thing one finds in some hymns and in most of the verse written for 
women s magazines. As an example of what I mean take the poem "Buds", 
which begins 

How beautiful are buds 

and ends 

my soul is humbled by a breaking- bud. 

(The resemblance to the popular ballad "Trees" is devastating.) And lest it be 
thought that I have pounced on a single bad example, I shall add a reference 
to the magpies who 

having eaten never once forget 
To offer up their thanks in song to God, 

to the sloppy poem "Woman" and the still sloppier "Plea" : 

This I plead, 

Beloved, cradle me and hold me softly 
As though I were a little drowsy child; 
And sing me those old magic lullabies 
Of fairies dancing frailly neath the moon, 
Of fabled birds and green-eyed goblins laughing, 
And children seeking for the treasure lying 
In radiant wonder at the rainbow s foot; 
And I shall fall asleep, and sleeping love you 
Because the dreams I dream are beautiful! 

When I met this poem on page 4 I wondered in amazement whether Miss 
Davis was not capable of anything better. To be fair, she certainly is, but her 
work is so uneven at present that very few of her poems could not be improved 
by revision, and some would have been better omitted altogether. Like Janet 
Beaton, she is best in her -most objective poems. There are several excellent 
poems of pure description : "Tussocks Lands", for instance, and "Autumn", in 
which the coming of autumn is described throughout in military imagery a feat 
of sustained virtuosity which is also an admirable piece of scene-painting. Best 
of all I liked "October Harvest", with its picture of lazy opulence : 
No meagre harvest this, when headlands burn 
With crocus gold of gorse like tasselled rye ; 
Where bees, those thrifty gleaners, oft return 
To garner sweets that left would drift and lie ; 
No frugal harvest this, where white box-trees 
Are snowed with oaten dust of powdered meal, 
And corn of wild grass fingers the soft knees 
Of new-born lambs whose reed-thin voices peal 
Forlorn and lonely on the sharp sweet air. 

Miss Davis undoubtedly has talent ; her poetic future depends on whether 
she imposes a stern discipline on herself and conquers her besetting faults or 
prefers to follow the primrose path of cheap sentiment and lush diction. 

Rosemary Dobson s In a Convex Mirror is another first volume by a young 
poet, but Miss Dobson has already acquired that sense of artistic discipline which 
Miss Davis at present lacks. She is still of course learning her craft, so it is 
not surprising to find echoes of other poets in her work : of Hopkins in "Moving 
in Mist" ("Look close at the wavering, stayed now, coralline branches"), of 
Eliot in "In a Cafe", with its deliberately casual style and abrupt interpolations, 
of Auden in "Australian Holiday, 1940". The result is that her work is not 
perfectly integrated, and at times her own personality is submerged by these 



outside influences ; nevertheless from her work as a whole I do get the impres 
sion of a more distinctive poetic personality than from either of the two writers 
previously discussed. 

Her interest in the technical side of her work can be seen in her experiments 
with rhythmic and verbal effects, with alliteration (in "The Fire" and "Moving 
in Mist") and assonance (in "The Rider"). At its best her style is both concise 
and precise ; and very rarely is she content with the easy and obvious. In the 
last stanza of "Young Girl at a Window", for example, she achieves something 
of the chiselled grace of the classical epigram : 

.Over the gently-turning hills 

Travel a journey with your eyes 

In forward footsteps, chance assault 

This way the map of living lies. 

And this the journey you must go 

Through grass and sheaves and, lastly, snow. 

This is but one example of the exquisite music which Miss Dobson can 
produce from conventional metres. The title-piece "In a Convex Mirror" is 
perhaps an even better example; here, too, she makes skilful use of historical 
associations to deepen the sense of mortality, mingling past and present so that 
Rostov unites with Babylon as a symbol of transience. 

But Miss Dobson s work is not merely technically interesting; what she says 
is interesting, too. I don t think, however, that her most "modern" pieces are her 
best; it is in these that she is least herself and most an echo of the ideas and 
mannerisms of her contemporaries. "One Section", for instance, is a rather 
forced mixture of realism and symbolism, and "Australian Holiday, 1940" 
contributes less to the reader s poetic experience than many shorter and less 
ambitious pieces. It may be aptly contrasted with the little poem "The Tempest", 
in which Miss Dobson deliberately evokes memories of a familiar masterpiece 
in order to create something new and beautiful of her own. 

Unlike Janet Beaton and Norma Davis, Rosemary Dobson, in her more personal 
poems, always keeps her emotions under control ; but I think that perhaps she, 
like Miss Davis, is at her best in descriptive work. There is a striking pictorial 
quality in "Foreshore" and "Cockerel Sun", a bravura piece in which a fanciful 
image is brilliantly elaborated. The finest example, however, and in my opinion 
the best descriptive poem in all three volumes, is "Apex". In this description of 
a grey crane the pictorial and musical qualities of Miss Dobson s style are most 
perfectly blended. I cannot resist quoting the second half of the poem : 

But here among the lilies lurks there not 

Suspect of slime in green translucency? 

His long neck arches questioning arrests ; for there 

Darts through the silence, bubbling water up, 

The anxious beetle, impudent to disturb 

Ancient solemnity of peace his leg falls limp. 

Perplexed and shattered silence builds again 
Her antique towers among the Abater-lilies. 




Ode of Our Times. By Frederick T. Macartney. (The Anvil Press, 
Melbourne, 1944.) 

The Australian topical ode may be regarded as the creation of the late 
"Furnley Maurice". Mr. Macartney obviously follows the Melbourne Odes, 
though with the individual technique developed in his own long experience as a 
poet. The note of his ode is struck in the line : 

The old wisdom falters; what is the voice of youth? 

Youth is allowed to state its case for "the subconscious", communism and 
mechanism, ending half- uncertainly, half-exultantly with: 
Surely you, 

you who were young, 
know all this is true ! 
You grope in life s blackout for form, 
but we are what light it can throw. 
If we are but foam of a storm, 
we are foam at the prow ! 

Speaking with the voice of maturity and disillusionment, the poet answers : 
Seek you a revelation? There is none but this 
Immediate bliss. 

Whether with desperate hands you supplicate 
The noon or the cold fame of the stars, 
Or numbed in folded postures you await 
The preparation of new avatars . . . 
Renounce the far importance for release 
In glad perceptive peace 

which is all very well for age ! Mr. Macartney is confident that "This meets the 
plight of our encumbered days", and predicts an end which is nothing more than 
"mere settling of mere agitated dust". But at least there is some satisfaction 
in agitation, however useless ! Mr. Macartney s philosophy of quietism will 
surely not have a wide appeal. 



Caroline Chisholm. By George Landen Dann. (Mulga Publications. Sydney. 

Under the title of A Second Moses, Mr. Dann s play was performed by the 
Brisbane Repertory Theatre Society in 1939. That title (which can well be 
spared) was suggested by a rhyme in Punch in 1845, describing Mrs. Chisholm, 
the great pioneer of female immigration in N.S.W., as "a second Moses, in 
bonnet and in shawl". Her work has been recognised in a number of memoirs 
and studies, but Mr. Dann is the first to present her character in dramatic form. 

The whole play, indeed, depends on this portrayal. It contains very little 
quickened action, the crisis, apparently, being the moment when, believing her 
work done, Mrs. Chisholm is about to leave the colony and a "sign" comes to her 
that she is to remain. Mr. Dann obtains his effects from the force of that strong 
character in operation. She beards Governor Gipps, she conquers recalcitrance 
among the girls in her charge, she surmounts all human and material difficulties. 
Quietly and gracefully written, the play has truer merit than a more sensational 
piece on the theme would have possessed, and the author is to be congratulated 
on his understanding realisation of his subject. 





Australian Poetry, 1943. Selected by H. M. Green. (Angus and Robertson 
Ltd. Sydney, 1944. 35. 6d.) 

One Hundred Poems. By Kenneth Slessor. (Angus and Robertson Ltd. 
1944- 5s.) 

"The Fire on the Snow" and "The Golden Lover": Two Plays for Radio. 
By Douglas Stewart. (Angus and Robertson Ltd. 1944. 55.) 

The Moonlit Doorway: Poems. By Kenneth MacKenzie. (Angus and 
Robertson Ltd. 1944. 5s.) 

Spright and Geist. By R.G.H. (Angus and Robertson Ltd. 1944. 2s. 6d.) 

Poetry: The Quarterly of Australasian Verse. Edited by Flexmore Hudson. 
Number 13. (Editor, Lucindale, S.A. 2s.) 

Joseph Furphy: The Legend of a Man and his Book. By Miles Franklin, in 
association with Kate Baker. (Angus and Robertson Ltd. 1944. IDS. 6d.) 

"A Girl with Red Hair" and Other Stories. By Douglas Stewart. (Angus 
and Robertson Ltd. 1944. 75. 6d.) 

Winnowed Verses. By Henry Lawson. It s Harder for Girls. By Gavin 
Casey. Man-Shy. By Frank Dalby Davison. Call to the Winds. By P. G. 
Taylor. Dig. By Frank Chine. Insect Wonders of Australia. By Keith C. 
McKeown. (Australian Pocket Library. Angus and Robertson Ltd. 1944. 
Various prices under 2s.) 

Poets at War: An Anthology of Verse by Australian Servicemen, compiled 
by Ian Mudie. (A Jindyworobak Publication. Georgian House, Melbourne. 
1944. 6s. 6d.) 

Crescendo, edited by James Franklin Lewis, Missouri, U.S.A. Vol. Ill, 
Special Final Issue, Autumn, 1944. 

Barjai: A Meeting Place for Youth, edited by Laurence Collinson and Barrie 
G. Reid, Number 17, November-December, 1944. 

Between You and Me, by J. McC. (Current Book Distributors, Sydney. 
1944. is.) 

Australia in New Guinea, by E. A. H. Laurie. (Current Book Distributors, 
Sydney. 1944. 3<U 

World Review: The Quarterly Journal of the Tasmanian League of Nations 
Union, December, 1944. 9d. 


"Southerly", Number Three, 1944, Correction. Page I, List of Contents: 
"Let s Talk of Graves of Worms . . .", omit " of Worms" (uncaught). 




Presentation to the Honorary Secretary 

At the suggestion of some members of the Executive Committee, a fund 
was opened in August of last year for recognising the services of Mr. H. M. 
Butterley to the Association. The ready response to the appeal is perhaps the 
surest indication of the esteem in which Mr. Butterley is held. The Executive 
Committee wishes to thank all members who answered the appeal and made the 
presentation possible. On the very appropriate occasion of the twenty-first anni 
versary dinner of the* Association, the Chairman, Dr. A. G. Mitchell, handed to 
Mr. Butterley, on behalf of members, a wallet containing a cheque for 33. In 
making the presentation he said : 

During its twenty-one years of activity the, Association has had the interest 
and support of men eminent in literature and scholarship in this country. One 
thinks of, among others, Professor Brereton, his successor, Professor Waldock, 
and particularly Professor Holme. He was the first founder and organiser of 
the Association. He has already spoken of the way in which the name of Sir 
Mungo MacCallum is linked with the inauguration and development of the Asso 
ciation. On the death of Sir Mungo it was the hope of the members that 
Professor Holme would agree to succeed him in the office of Life President. 
He declined the office because he wished that the title of Life President should 
be enjoyed by MacCallum alone. Regretfully the Executive Committee accepted 
his decision while honouring him for the motive that prompted it. It is specially 
appropriate that he should be presiding at the twenty-first anniversary dinner, so 
signally honoured by the presence of His Excellency, the Governor. The Asso 
ciation has also been well and faithfully served by many who have held respon 
sible office in it, for example, Mr. Berman, for a long time its treasurer, and 
even now a tireless worker as business manager ; Mr. McLoskey, Chairman of 
the Executive Committee during two of the most difficult years of its career; 
Afr. Howarth, the editor of Southerly; Miss Earle Hooper who has recently 
resigned from the committee after many years of service. But no one, perhaps, 
has laid us under a greater debt of gratitude than has Mr. Butterley. He has 
been secretary of the Association for no less than fourteen of its twenty-one 
years of life. Whenever the business of electing the secretary for the coming 
year has come round, members have been thinking not so much whom they 
should elect, as how they might most effectively talk Mr. Butterley down if he 
showed the least sign of asking for relief from the office. Once or twice, as I 
remember, he has begun to make the request but he has never been allowed to 
finish the necessary form of words. The office of secretary calls for a good deal 
more than industry, patience and thoroughness in handling many routine matters. 
It requires tact and courtesy. We have always known that no one would be 
offended and that we should always have the goodwill of those with whom we 
were dealing while Mr. Butterley spoke for the Association. It is now my very 
pleasant duty to ask Mr. Butterley to accept this wallet as a token of gratitude 
and esteem from members of the Association. 





Price 6/- 

Shaw Neilson has been hailed by leading critics as the greatest 
lyrical poet Australia has produced. His sort of poetry, the poetry 
of lyrical impulse, has fallen on evil days, but it is conceded on 
all sides that he was an outstanding figure in Australian 

The present book is not a critical estimate "to decide his 
place in a list of names", nor is it a formal biography, though it 
includes the poet s own intensely interesting account of his life. 
But it is more than a worthy memoir. A great mass of valuable 
new matter is here presented, giving a vivid picture of Neilson s 
relations with the late A^ G. Stephens, his methods of work, his 
literary opinions, and the whole history of his wanderings after 
casual jobs on farms, in quarries and orchards, and with road- 

James Devaney has given us the man and poet as he knew 
him the warps and limitations as well as all that was lovable, 
and rare. His aim was to write a book that lovers of Shaw 
Neilson would like to have. It will be agreed that he has done 
admirably \vhat he set out to do. 


The Legend of a Man and his Book 



In association with Kate Baker 

Price 10/6 

As the first authentic and complete account of Joseph Furphy 
and his work, this is a book of considerable interest and import 
ance, for, although the author of "Such is Life" and "Rigby s 
Romance" did not have the pleasure or stimulus of wide recog 
nition in his own time, his reputation has grown until he is now 
held by competent critics to be a great and significant figure in 
Australian life and letters. 

Kate Baker was a close friend of Joseph Furphy and his 
family through many years, and much of the most interesting 
material for the book has come from her reminiscences and 
collected Furphiana. Miles Franklin a distinguished novelist 
knew and corresponded with Joseph Furphy. Drawing on a wealth 
of hitherto inaccessible material, she has, in her own vigorous 
and inimitable way, created a life-size portrait of this great 
Australian. Joseph Furphy that "lean, shrewd, proud, modest, 
kindly man", as A. G. Stephens described him is here presented 
against an authentic background, with his family and his friends, 
his tireless correspondence, his vast thirst for knowledge, his 
intellectual strength and human greatness. 

Angus & Robertson Ltd., Sydney 




Office-bearers, 1944 

Patron-in-Chief : His Excellency the Governor of New South Wales, The Lord 

Wakehurst, K.C.M.G. 
Patrons: Dame Mary Gilmore, Miss Dorothea Mackellar, The Rev. C. J. 

Prescott, M.A., D.D., The Rev. G. W. Thatcher, M.A., D.D. 
President: Emeritus Professor E. R. Holme, O.B.E., M.A., Commander of the 

Order of Leopold II. 
Vice-Presidents: F. T. Berman, B.A., H. M. Green, B.A., LL.B., Miss F. Earle 

Hooper, H. L. McLoskey, M.A., LL.B., Mrs. William Moore, Professor 

A. J. A. Waldock, M.A. 

Hon. Secretary : H. M. Butterley, Hanna Street, Beecrof t. 
Editorial Secretary (Leaflets and Reports): Miss Thelma Herring, M.A. 
Hon. Treasurer : Mrs. L. I. Shephard, B.A., B.Ec., the W.E.A., Sirius House, 

Macquarie Place, Sydney. 
Executive Committee: Miss Beatrice Davis, B. A., Aubrey Halloran, B.A., LL.B., 

Miss Thelma Herring, M.A., A. D. Hope, B.A., R. G. Howarth, B.A., B.Litt, 

W. Lennard, M.A., R. K. Levis, B.A., A. H. McDonald, M.A., Ph.D., A. G, 

Mitchell,* M.A., Ph.D., Professor A. D Trendall, M.A., Litt.D. 

* Chairman of Committee. 

Objects of the Association 

(a) To promote the due recognition of English as an essential element in 
the national education and to help in maintaining the purity of the language 
through correctness in both its spoken and its written use. 

(6) To discuss methods of teaching English, and the correlation of school 
and university work. 

(c) To encourage and facilitate advanced study in English literature and 

(d) To unite all those occupied with English studies or interested in the 
Arts; to bring teachers into contact with one another and with writers and 
readers who do not teach; to induce those who are not themselves engaged in 
teaching to use their influence in the promotion of knowledge of English and of 
its literature as a means of intellectual progress. 

Advantages of Membership 

1. Every member of the Association is a member of the English- Association, 
London, and receives direct from England the Annual Report. Members may 
also obtain through the Secretary, by payment of 33., the three numbers of the 
magazine English for any year, and the Annual Presidential Address. Copies of 
Essays and Studies and The Year s Work in English Studies are available at 
largely reduced prices. 

2. Members may attend the meetings held in Sydney each month. At these 
meetings addresses are given; poems, dramas and other literary works are read, 
and opportunities are given for discussion and social intercourse. 

3. Selected papers are printed and distributed to members in booklet form. 
Southerly is issued four times a year. 

4. An Annual Dinner is held, usually in the University Union Refectory. 

5. The Executive Committee is prepared to help in the formation and 
maintenance of branch associations in suburbs and country districts. 

6. Advice and help will be given as far as possible in reading and teaching 
English literature, and in literary work generally. 

Subscription : The annual subscription -is I2S. 6d., 
payable to the Hon, Secretary, Hanna Street, Beecroft. 


I"0 CO**AltV UNITE* 



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