Since I first "discovered" the poetry of Judith Wright in 1963 and bought her book of selected poems I have followed her journey and her writings. Her death this last month has led me to re-evaluate her written work and the effect it has had on my life.
By 1963 my family had moved from Tasmania to Queensland, a not too happy period of adjustment in my life as a teenager. I found solace in poetry and music, neither format which appealed to my siblings so I found to secretly write and dream about those of whom I read - Patrick White, Marcus Clarke, Graham Greene and others appealed to the Scorpio side of my nature. This was the instigator which initiated a quest which brings me forward to the person with the beliefs I have today. Not that the quest is over, I merely have the courage to show others of what I write. The fear of ridicule and laughter no longer is my guide. I believe in me.
I would aspire to help humankind in as many and varied ways as Judith Wright. Her work with the underprivileged and the indigineous people of Australia is a legacy worthy enough to follow. I don't have the literary style or genius of Judith Wright but what I write, I write from the heart within my own truth. Is this not what Judith Wright showed us within her writing - integrity within our own being is personal empowerment? This is - the Courage to BE! I submit this poem as my tribute to Judith Wright, a truly great Australian.
The Land DownUnder
by Gaele Arnott
I come from the land down under.
A land of sweeping plains
of far flung deserts
of snowbound days and tropical nights
and where extinct volcanic cores smile.
The largest island in the world
inhabited by the lucky few.
In memory I relive the mid-winter days
of the roaring forties
of foggy chilled mornings
and excitment as I saw the first snowflake fall.
In childhood memory rests to recall,
long summer days
where the sun seemed not to set
of tea time picnics at the 'gorge'
I travelled north and along the way did see
the dog sitting on the tucker box at Gundagai,
the three sisters in a haze of blue
the icon of this land
a tribute to arts and culture
taken from other lands
and valiantly claimed our own.
The locals said it must be great
if it came from outside our shore.
What would convict descendents
know of intellect and culture?
unless from outside this shore.
My heart was saddened at how little I saw
of the culture here,
before we came to educate and suppress
Further north I travelled and saw
in the depths of water so clear
colour and beauty so rare
and only found with abounding life
amongst a coral reef
under a sun beaming with pride
from an unblemished face of glorious blue.
I now reside in peace and contentment
beside the creek
in a climate more suited to my needs.
A sub-tropical climate
not too hot and not too cold.
which reeks of a history
by the mind of white man.
The land tells me stories of long ago
before it was 'settled' by men
who understood not,
the spirituality of the soul.
To understand the stories is the role
I have chosen
to bridge the gap between greed and soul.
I love this sunburnt country
the land of sweeping plains
of years of drought
and seasons of cyclonic rains
I love the contrasts and the contradictions
which come from the land down under.
This land depicts us all
- the land we call HOME.
This page is subject to copyright. It may be transmitted by electronic means for non-commercial use but it is requested that the page be transmitted in its entirety with all due acknowledgement. If there is a wish to use this verse for any commercial publication permission should be gained from the author - Gaele Arnott - 7 August, 2000