A Message to my Grandson

You chose a marvellous morning to be born,
The orange edge of dawn, the stars paling,
The glassy lake, the diamond Autumn air,
The sun breaking in surf on the Brindabellas –
You chose a marvellous morning to be born.

Welcome: And I extend an invitation
To tour your native city; for a start
The view from Ainslie (quite superlative)
Delineates Burley Griffin’s genius, working
After his death, enlisting trees, hills, water
As friends (he hoped) not subjects to his plan.
Then we could visit some outstanding features,
St John’s, the War Memorial, Civic Centre,
The National Library, Parliament House of course,
Regatta Point, the Gardens, Capital Hill…

But those who met you first at your arrival
Have judged my invitation premature.
You were, I hear, quite tired after your journey,
Found our light trying, though intriguing too,
Through flickering lids seemed eager to discover
Just what was going on, but had some trouble
In focusing the things you had in mind,
And close observers felt that you were opting
For further time to orientate yourself.
In point of fact, it seems you waved your hands
In general greeting to your father, mother,
Then, having twice refused some light refreshment,
You went to sleep.

No explanations needed, my dear fellow!
We’ll simply do our tour some other time
Convenient to yourself. The sun is climbing,
The city goes to work, and you are here.
You chose a marvellous morning to be born.

Tributes

  • Relativity

    “Boy killed on Bicycle”; smallest print, four lines
    Islanded in a tossing sea of type,

  • Surmise

    My little son, whose face I never saw,
    Who could not wait to bless your father ’s eyes

  • Coming into the Clyde

    Part of me for ever is the January morning
    Coming into the Clyde in the frosty moonlight

  • For Yarmuk, Elder of the Ulupna Tribe

    A worn-out body laid in quiet earth,
    Attendant trees, a wattle’s throb of gold,

  • For James Ralph Darling

    In that keen morning it was good to wake.
    The sun that roused the swans on the lagoon

  • Boris Pasternak

    This death of a man, this sudden stop of life,
    Such total end, or such a faring forth
    Into what regions?

  • Post-mortem

    When a man dies
    We find that suddenly there’s time to praise him.

  • A Message to my Grandson

    You chose a marvellous morning to be born,
    The orange edge of dawn, the stars paling,

  • Bamboo: A Portrait

    The bamboo cut to suit you from our garden
    Has become your favourite stick – dried and varnished

  • Fragment of a Chinese Classic

    Catching the distinctive T’ang of old China
    She chooses for herself the character of Punctual Autumn

  • The Honey Man

    Like liquid silk in golden eddies
    the honey laps into my tin.

  • For my brother: Ave atque Vale

    Brother fare well, journeying to that Kingdom
    Of faithful servants, and of work fulfilled

  • Farewell to Skye

    Little death of a little dog
    In a death-wish world of news by body-count

  • Ballad of Old Sox

    They’re burning Old Sox’s shack
    Just two weeks since he died.

  • A Lambeth Garland

    A garden gracious, serene and spacious at Lambeth –
    This is the dream, the vision that shall be its crown

  • Banquet

    ..You they found fallen, holding a garden hose,
    Where, year on year, you watered, weeded, nurtured things to grow.

  • Taking Leave

    Ninety years youthful, questing through generations,
    historian of two hemispheres, quickener of other minds,

  • Anna-versary

    Anna is one
    What fun, what fun

  • Fred Hollows

    Raged, raged against the death of others’ light,
    Toiled, fought, till sick and blind received their sight.

  • Yudina

    I praise a heroine of the Soviet Union,
    pianist Yudina, through Moscow’s gloom
    spelling a Mozart magical concerto.

  • Letter to Judith Wright

    ..apartness conquered by the power of love.
    Carry us with you as you journey on.

  • For Nkosi Johnson

    His question ranged the echoing galaxies
    of empty cold unanswering space, returning
    home to our earth.