Acknowledgements…

Not vile, body, nor foe, flesh,
Your joys deluding, triumphs trash,
Fit to be foiled your every wish.

Never so will I malign
Helper and friend on whom I lean,
Vessel of life and breath not vain.

You now, my joyful carrier,
Bear me about, on earth, in air,
Or white wave greening in to shore.

How you exult to leap and run!
How gladly greet the wind and sun
And stretch at ease when work is done.

And are not all the senses yours
Which in the universe disclose
The frame of That which moves and is?

Eye, that speaks with liquid lens
To brain and soul of grasses bronze,
And moon’s miraculous light, and sun’s;

Ear, whose vibrant membrane tells
Of birds and words and waterfalls
And Music’s heavenly syllables;

Smell, stabbing memory fierce and first;
Touch, cold to stone but warm to breast,
Love’s surest proof he is no ghost.

Good body, happy home here,
God-given instrument I wear,
I’ll cherish, use you without fear.

But limbs grow heavy, and breath lost,
And eyes weary, and words forced,
And I will chafe my house at last.

Then rest, body, and lie still
When I have otherwhere to dwell,
And other work, as God may will.

Richard’s choice

  • Australia to her Children

    I am so old, oh very old, my children,
       Ye that are so young,

  • Music and the Heart

    Music and the Heart run hand in hand
    Naked over the shining sand,

  • Chemistry

    In the summit song of youth
    A quiet quick catch of the breath.

  • Colours

    Before I loved or knew you were
       I spoke as I had eyes,

  • After

    Out of this questioning, eventual truth;
    Out of this doubt, faith rooted in the rock;

  • Acknowledgements…

    Not vile, body, nor foe, flesh,
    Your joys deluding, triumphs trash,
    Fit to be foiled your every wish.

  • Alone

    Alone to walk the dripping woods of spring
       While daisies spy you?

  • Mutability

    ‘All things are flux: there’s nothing fast,’
    Said Heraclitus, ages past,

  • Detachment

    …the thunder growling,
    And winds mounting, and the sky falling,
    And night, and you not here.

  • The Tunnel

    This is where the water hurries under the archway,
    This is where we enter the long tunnel,

  • Australia 1914

    Gone away, away,
    Suddenly at a word departed,

  • Come Death Suddenly

    Come death suddenly from the sea or cloud,
    With the blast of thunder and the blinding shroud,

  • The Tactician

    Spring held her fire
    So long, the long pursuit, the watchers wondered
    Would there be ever an end

  • Coming into the Clyde

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

  • The Jervis Bay

    ..The fifth day of November, Fifty North and Forty West,
    Was edging to its departure, like an undecided guest,

  • A Vision of Degree Day

    The drowsy air, the throngs that gaze,
    The ceremonial stir,
    Mixed with the drone of Latin phrase..

  • Flying to New Zealand

    Hauled headlong starward by the quadruple conviction
    Of lion-lunged engines in their pride of power

  • My nine-hours son

    My nine-hours son, so wrinkle-faced
    Wry concentration of distaste
    To find your Person so displaced,

  • Autumn Song

    The sun like a centaur leaping the ranges
    Shoots to the heart my garden, shatters
    The dew in a volley of wild carillons

  • The Gull

    Riding the wind, in planetary sweep,
    The gull wheels on the radius of a wing.

  • Creation

    Straggling off the highway in search of firewood
    Past the tins and bottles, through the rusty wire,

  • The Last Enemy

    Could we locate the enemy of mankind
    (I mean the GHQ, the Centre itself,

  • Genesis

    You spoke, after long years, about the morning
    That followed the night your first-born son was born:

  • Rain after Drought

    Waking to a diapason in the downpipe
    I peer through curtained panes to a curtained sky

  • A Talk to the Willow

    When you were caught red-rooted in the drain
    You wept of course, but did the same again

  • The Honey Man

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

  • Pause

    You are late coming home
    To the house we share
    An audible silence
    Chills the air

  • Splitting the Red Box

    The tree-trunk rounds, a fallen Doric column,
    are tumbled on the grass beside my gate.

  • Sea Waif

    No dolphin it was, but a six-month suckling whale
    gashed and shark-mauled, tribeless, motherless,

  • 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.

  • Airport Departure

    My love, I watch you thread your way, and turn
    with a small timeless smile, and trail your trolley
    unhurried through the gate of no return.

  • Yin Barun Road

    Crossing the highway, furtive as a snake,
    it slips through bush towards indeterminate hills.

  • Willow Tree: Two Years After    

    Spring, at a bound. Once more the colourful chorus,
    Daffodils first declare their lyric yellow,

  • Canberra Autumn

    Land of the singing light
    Light that first I saw
    Eighty years and more

  • For HMST – 1996

    Now for your birthday the single prunus bough,
    by neighbour ’s kindness spared on a sentenced tree

  • Tsunami

    … obliterating in instant mini-time
    a universe of suns and planets
    with or without their myriad forms of life,

  • For HMST – 1997

    Always a step ahead, you’re eighty-three,
    My life-support, contending other me,

  • Just Coming

    Down arches of the years I hear your voice
    explaining serials of our late departures,

  • HMST – 1999

    Six years since your last birthday in our midst
    seems yesterday, in this same so-loved house,

  • Encounter Recalled

    Wrapped in my gown of self-regard sublime
    I heard your voice arrive from outer space.

  • Going up to the Rocks

    Knowing the time was short
    Yours was the instant thought
    ‘Let’s go up to the Rocks!’

  • Mousetrap

    With joyless spade I dig the tiny grave
    Asking, who made me lord of life or death?

  • Away Day – Ten Years After

    Ten years since that incalculable day
    When from all worlds we know you slipped away

Poems of Nature

  • Lines written in meditation upon the recent moth plague

    Moths! Moths! Moths!
    In trouser-leg, singlet and shirt..

  • Timber

    “Up here the schooners used to come
      For timber, years ago,

  • Forestry

    My love and I in all agree
       As one, save this thing only:

  • Acknowledgements…

    Not vile, body, nor foe, flesh,
    Your joys deluding, triumphs trash,
    Fit to be foiled your every wish.

  • Sleeping out in the Mountains

    The host of hills encamped around,
    The sleepless army of the stars,

  • Easter Hymn

    Out of the cloud my Lord the Sun,
    Out of the earth my Lady Spring,

  • The Tactician

    Spring held her fire
    So long, the long pursuit, the watchers wondered
    Would there be ever an end

  • Barometric Man

    Twelve foot’s the rise and fall
    Of barometric Man

  • On Cathedral Mountain

    This mountain means discovery, since the day
    I climbed it first in boyhood and alone,

  • Flying to New Zealand

    Hauled headlong starward by the quadruple conviction
    Of lion-lunged engines in their pride of power

  • Point Lonsdale

    Dark sea dark land lie close beneath
    The muffling guilt of night,

  • Watershed

    From this rock spine, not three feet wide,
    Rivers of a continent divide

  • Autumn Song

    The sun like a centaur leaping the ranges
    Shoots to the heart my garden, shatters
    The dew in a volley of wild carillons

  • The Gull

    Riding the wind, in planetary sweep,
    The gull wheels on the radius of a wing.

  • Creation

    Straggling off the highway in search of firewood
    Past the tins and bottles, through the rusty wire,

  • Address to Mount Bogong

    Stentorian mountain, resonant as your name,
    I greet you with joy, I greet you, I give you thanks

  • Shoreham Morning

    The rousing sun’s sea-dance and dazzle
    Burnishes grassy cape and cliff,

  • Rain after Drought

    Waking to a diapason in the downpipe
    I peer through curtained panes to a curtained sky

  • Christmas Tree

    You hold the timeless in your brief green boughs
    The cardboard angels, home-made crib, the straw,
    The new-born baby older than Abraham

  • A Talk to the Willow

    When you were caught red-rooted in the drain
    You wept of course, but did the same again

  • Sea Change

    Down the cliff path, in morning sun
    Sliding, we stopped. The beach had gone,

  • Last Stand

    These trees reached up for light
    when Jesus walked on earth,

  • Metamorphosis

    The young magpie, as large as either parent,
    Piteously pleads the pathos of his need.

  • Splitting the Red Box

    The tree-trunk rounds, a fallen Doric column,
    are tumbled on the grass beside my gate.

  • Sea Waif

    No dolphin it was, but a six-month suckling whale
    gashed and shark-mauled, tribeless, motherless,

  • Farewell to Skye

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

  • Uluru

    At first it seemed a trek of migrant ants
    climbing the skyline of this great red rock

  • A Lambeth Garland

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

  • Cultural Interface

    ..Three kangaroos, grey eminences, rose
    staring, paws crossed, with worried faces fixed,

  • The Sun Ringing

    I heard a man of science tell:
    The sun is ringing like a bell,

  • Equal Rights for Emus

    Come down from that Crest! It’s Australia Day, Emu –
    We just want to say, mate, how much we esteem you.

  • Tsunami

    … obliterating in instant mini-time
    a universe of suns and planets
    with or without their myriad forms of life,

  • Mousetrap

    With joyless spade I dig the tiny grave
    Asking, who made me lord of life or death?

  • Stumpy-tail Spring

    He lies unblinking, back and corpulent,
    first lizard from his hibernation sleep