Slow in the golden morning sun
He lays them tenderly, one by one,
Keenly the poisèd form surveys
With critical though with kindly gaze,
Ere each he rests, with order fit,
Upon the place ordained for it,
The chosen bed where it must lie
Who knows? for all Eternity.
He has no part in loves or hates,
Stern master of the bricky fates:
Oblivious what they ask or feel,
Against whose word is no appeal.
For some whose form is somehow wrong
With one sharp stroke (Oh, he is strong!)
He shapes to rightness. Others yet
Whose fault he sees too deeply set
Are cast aside, to take their sleep
On the eternal rubbish heap.
And still he lays them, one by one,
Slowly, under the morning sun.
And as I watch his priest-like task
A thousand questions I would ask.
To what eternal changeless plan
Move you in tune, unhasting man?
What have you learnt in twenty-six
Years of close contact with bricks?
Has each to the discerning eye
A vivid personality?
An Ego that transcends the law
Of being 9 x 3 x 4?
And have they in their silent fashion
Deep reserves of quiet passion?
Loves, doubts, swift wild antipathies,
And little brickish frailties?
Have bricks the touch of something higher
From being tested in the fire?
And do they strive to comprehend
Vainly, with minds that will not bend
Splendid in failure, what may be
Mysterious sphericality?
Have some their moments, sweet, apart
When piercing clear to bricky heart
Comes the conviction, bright as day –
‘A brick is something more than clay’?

These I would ask, and thousands more
And yet, and yet – I may not. For
Behind the brow serene I see
Thoughts that command me silent be:
Beer; tobacco; Joe was wrong,
Carlton will not beat Geelong.

Poems of Australia