Last Post

Heard how often, still the notes compel
Unused to awe, we stand listening.
The bugle speaks
Its oscillating graph
Defines a life
Swiftly it joins the restless world of men
The to-fro tumult, test, action, decision,
The being expressed in ceaseless doing
Issues in closing calm, inevitable
Not held, not hurried
The last long note
A vapour-trail reaching beyond the horizon
A molten thread of glass drawn infinite
A shaft of light escaping the universe
Travelling towards that country from whose bourn
No traveller returns.

Poems of War

  • Alone

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

  • Epitaph on a New Army

    No drums they wished, whose thoughts were tied
    To girls and jobs and mother,

  • 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,

  • If I should die

    If I should die, grieve not for youth
    Blighted, and towers of hope that fell

  • The Prophetic Hour

    In this dread hour for thee and all mankind
    Britain, be Freedom’s fortress or her grave.

  • The Jervis Bay

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

  • Christmas in Iceland

    We lay in Iceland winterbound,
    And heard the blizzard blow,

  • Stella Polaris: Homebound

    Above the great ship’s lifting bow
    I watch the Pole Star nightly stand,

  • Thermopylae

    The story, as now we see, was over-written
    By Herodotus, bless his warm Hellenic heart!

  • The Last Enemy

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

  • The Anzac Graves on Gallipoli

    You may not pass this place. Here you must stop,
    Though all the world’s great tides run heedless by

  • Last Post

    Heard how often, still the notes compel
    Unused to awe, we stand listening.

Poems of the Spirit

  • Life and Death

    Look where he lies, a clod of earth at best,
    Yet colder than a clod, for where there shone

  • After

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

  • The Old Convict Church, Port Arthur

    ..By a blue winking sea,
    The church stands in a green place,
    Green as Calvary.

  • Relativity

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

  • Easter Hymn

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

  • Milton Blind

    That dreaming day it was, the bell-like air
    Unclosed the naked admirable heaven,

  • Come Death Suddenly

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

  • If I should die

    If I should die, grieve not for youth
    Blighted, and towers of hope that fell

  • To J.S. Bach

    Now, when the smoking ruins smoulder low
    Of what was Europe once

  • On Cathedral Mountain

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

  • The Prodigal Son

    The ancient art of story-telling charms
    The ear, keeps its first hold on men
    The whole world over.

  • The Last Enemy

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

  • Post-mortem

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

  • Space Window

    Waylaid by Handel’s theme, I think of you
    Now half a world away, and hear you say
    ‘His music always seems like coming home.’

  • 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

  • Passover

    Between the tumult of crucifixion
    and the diapason of resurrection
    that bar of absolute silence.

  • Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto

    …Listening,
    I am bereft, lost in the mystery
    of music leaping quenchless, undefiled

  • Astronomy

    ‘The love that moves the sun and all the stars’ –
    When Dante wrote there was no telescope:

  • The Honey Man

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

  • Last Stand

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

  • The Child and the World

    It was a terrible world
    And into it came a child

  • For Australia

    Lord of earth and all creation
    let your love possess our land;

  • Last Post

    Heard how often, still the notes compel
    Unused to awe, we stand listening.

  • Christmas Gift

    ..stamped with a star, but posted beyond the stars,
    marked ‘No Commercial Value’, signed, with a cross,

  • Farewell

    Fare well. We come to send you on the way
    we all must walk, so final, secret, strange.

  • The Word

    The greatest word in the greatest book
    is that conjunction, ‘Nevertheless’,

  • Extraterrestrial Report

    Arrived at the heavenly mansions, the blessed Saint
    (female on earth) was welcomed by St Peter

  • Canberra Autumn

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