Monday, July 29, 2013

Poems by Julian Randolph Stow

Julian Randolph Stow (28 November 1935 – 29 May 2010) was an Australian writer. His novel To the Islands won the Miles Franklin Award in 1958. He was awarded the Patrick White Award in 1979. As well as producing fiction and poetry, he also wrote libretti for theatrical works by Peter Maxwell Davies. Presenting some poems.

And indeed I shall anchor, one day—some summer morning
of sunflowers and bougainvillaea and arid wind—
and smoking a black cigar, one hand on the mast,
turn, and unlade my eyes of all their cargo;
and the parrot will speed from my shoulder, and white yachts glide
welcoming out from the shore on the turquoise tide.
And when they ask me where I have been, I shall say
I do not remember.
And when they ask me what I have seen, I shall say
I remember nothing.
And if they should ever tempt me to speak again,
I shall smile, and refrain.
My Wish for My Land
The Woman:
My wish for my land is that ladies be beautiful,
That horses be spirited and gentlemen courteous
And all moustaches faultless.
My wish for my husband is that he read Tennyson.
My wish for my daughter is that she be interesting
And capture a million acres.
My wish for my sons is that they be chivalrous,
Sun-tanned and tall, and that they bestow on me
Perhaps a dozen grandsons.
My wish for my house is that linen be Irish
And tableware sterling, and that the piano
Go never too long unplayed.
My wish for myself is that I grow matronly,
Straying in dove-grey silk through the roses
Under the far far harking of the crows.
The Enemy
As well, maybe, that you cannot read our minds;
There are worse tools than swords and rifle-butts.
My enemy: my passion. At dead of night,
Licking my wounds, I begin to think I love you.
Certainly none were ever so bound in love
As we are bound in hate: O my ideal.
One sight of you, and life grows meaningful.
One blow: new strength to every slave who watches;
One word: revived fidelity, fresh lust.
Time-weakness – absence – death can have no bearing.
You whom I serve, your prefect gentle knight,
Can you divine that longed-for consummation?
Lover: I mean to take you like a sponge,
And wring your blood out on Hiroshima.
The love of man is a weed of the waste places,
One may think of it as the spinifex of dry souls.
I have not, it is true, made the trek to the difficult country
where it is said to grow; but signs come back,
reports come back, of continuing exploration
in that terrain. And certain of our young men,
who turned in despair from the bar, upsetting a glass,
and swore: "No more" (for the tin rooms stank of flyspray)
are sending word that the mastery of silence
alone is empire. What is God, they say,
but a man unwounded in his loneliness?
And the question (applauded, derided) falls like dust
on veranda and bar; and in pauses, when thinking ceases,
the footprints of the recently departed
march to the mind's horizons, and endure.
And often enough as we turn again, and laugh,
cloud, hide away the tracks with an acid word,
there is one or more gone past the door to stand
(wondering, debating) in the iron street,
and toss a coin, and pass, to the township's end,
where one-eyed 'Mat, eternal dealer in camels,
grins in his dusty yard like a split fruit.
But one who has returned, his eyes blurred maps
of landscapes still unmapped, gives this account:
"The third day, cockatoos dropped dead in the air.
Then the crows turned back, the camels knelt down and stayed there,
and a skin-coloured surf of sandhills jumped the horizon
and swamped me. I was bushed for forty years.
"And I came to a bloke all alone like a kurrajong tree.
And I said to him: 'Mate - I don't need to know your name -
Let me camp in your shade, let me sleep, till the sun goes down."

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