I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

5 August 2008

Cento Australiana

Wednesday challenge (many days late this week). A cento is a poem made up of lines by other poets.

I love a sunburnt country.
On her dark breast we spring like points of light,
morning’s first colour, curving to day’s end

the children screaming at the water’s edge with seagulls,
hearing the birds’ ancestral incantations
among the arid relics of old tide patterns.

Sometimes when summer is over the land
the harbour breaks up in thunders of sunlight
and a steep blue sky

as I feel the weight of light begin to bleach my feet
where seagulls rode upon the foam
and the hawk in the high sky hung.

January heat. Raw saplings stand like cattle
at high voltage summer noon.
Flies multiply in the heat.

The scrub is thick in the gully
with graceful curves of dried up streams,
lantana green smell on your hands.

Look at the sky! It’s ‘trying’ to rain;
this desert, blinding, unnamed
leaving us undefended as the stars.

Red rock forms sheltering walls
by a ring of worn river stones,
lightning-gutted remnants.

Walk into the memory of rain
the dream of grass
the glint of fronds and blades in the light

this hushed sun-haze morning,
turning over wet leaves with my walking stick;
green leaves – a patch of world along a river.

Because a little vagrant wind veered south from China Sea
slow drops of rain began to fall; the wind
suspended in the amber sky.

The moon had rippled past the hotel glass
and suddenly there was a presence.
Sniff the bougainvillea and you’re in the south pacific again the purple islands.

The East wind sucks itself along sea shelves
it blows all summer long like a bellows
great murmur of rain spreading over suburbs and into the hills.

At night, in each other’s arms, we touch the sun . . .
watching the rocks bleed lichen onto the snow.
I am rested and walk away, into the rolling dunes.

Australian poets (in above order):
Dorothea Mackellar
Judith Wright
Joyce Lee
Rosemary Dobson
Gwen Harwood
Bev Roberts
Bruce Dawe
Vincent Buckley
Rod Moran
Jennifer Rankin
Kristin Henry
Dorothy Hewett
Les Murray
Dorothy Porter
Tony Page
Barbara Giles
Michael Leunig
Chris Mansell
Susan Hampton
Barrett Reid
Shelton Lea
Wendy Poussard
Mal Morgan
Gary Catalano
Katherine Gallagher
Jennie Fraine
Roland Robinson
Philip Martin
Liz Hall-Downs
John Shaw Neilson
C.J. Dennis
Oodgeroo Noonuccal
David Campbell
Pi O
John Kinsella
Michael Dransfield
Maie Casey
Bridget Porter Oldale
Judith Rodriguez
David Malouf
Doris Leadbetter
Jenny Boult (aka M.M. Bliss)


  1. Ah well, I had such excellent material!

    Thank you, line 18. :)

  2. I have to read more Australian poets. Your citations will help me there! Lovely work. I especially appreciate your finding so many images of nature; perhaps that positive image runs through the heart of Australia.

    Me, I'm Irish. Black Irish. Hence the cynicism!!

    Congrats on another good work! A

  3. I confess I hoped people would react as you have - we have such wonderful poets who are too little known in the rest of the world.

    Could have included many more; these are just the ones whose books I grabbed off my shelf.

    In a country which is in an extended period of drought, I myself was interested to observe what an important motif rain (or the lack of it) is in Australian poetry of all eras.

    Some of these poets aren't nature poets at all, so once my theme emerged it was sometimes challenging to find a suitable line. :)

    P.S. Hmmm, can't say I'd have called you cynical!

  4. What an interesting idea... I didn't know about many of these different forms until I started reading your poetry... and now it looks like there's a lot more poets I have to read!

  5. But what could be better than to have more exciting poetry to catch up with? ;)

  6. Absolutely! I'm looking forward to it!

  7. fabulous result. I'll have to try this.

  8. Someone at Poetic Asides was inspired by my example to do one with Canadian poets, which you would probably find interesting. There are lots of possibilities including using the lines of just one poet from different poems. I'm planning to play with the idea a bit more myself in the future too.