The Royal Fireworks

With lovely face and fiery tail
Swift unaffrighting comets hail
The joyful coming of the Queen.
Look, shattered rubies, globes of green,
Meteor-streaks, the varied sheen
Of bright cadenzas, dazzling falls,
Waves of light breaking, coronals,
Hail-storms, sunwheels, opening flowers,
Trumpets of joy that speak gold showers,
And instantaneous tall towers—
Twice given; for in air they reign,
And water renders them again:
There flashing watersnakes appear,
Anenomes burn soft and clear;
There luminous medusa-domes
Trail tentacles of light; quick combs
Of coral radiance flare and die.
Galactic fire in either sky,
Of shoals and stars! And constellations
Of phosphorescent contemplations
Within that third and more inclusive
Sky of mind, where thought’s elusive
Spangles drift, or rise elate,
And sudden pleasures coruscate.
The heart is born to celebrate:
May heaven and earth keep wonted state
With thronging splendours, festivals,
Till a concluding darkness falls.


James Phillip McAuley 1917-1976



An Art Of Poetry

To Vincent Buckley

Since all our keys are lost or broken,
Shall it be thought absurd
If for an art of words I turn
Discreetly to the Word?

Drawn inward by his love, we trace
Art to its secret springs:
What, are we masters in Israel
And do not know these things?

Lord Christ from out his treasury
Brings forth things new and old:
We have those treasures in earthen vessels,
In parables he told,

And in the single images
Of seed, and fish, and stone,
Or, shaped in deed and miracle,
To living poems grown.

Scorn then to darken and contract
The landscape of the heart
By individual, arbitrary
And self-expressive art.

Let your speech be ordered wholly
By an intellectual love;
Elucidate the carnal maze
With clear light from above.

Give every image space and air
To grow, or as bird to fly;
So shall one grain of mustard-seed
Quite overspread the sky.

Let your literal figures shine
With pure transparency:
Not in opaque but limpid wells
Lie truth and mystery.

And universal meanings spring
From what the proud pass by:
Only the simplest forms can hold
A vast complexity.

We know, where Christ has set his hand
Only the real remains:
I am impatient for that loss
By which the spirit gains.


James McAuley (1917–1976)

Final Flower of the Human Intellect

nez en l'airIt is hardly surprising that commercialism, the passport to physical prosperity, should be the prevalent idea of an age, when, through the disintegration of class-rule, prosperity is for the first time in history possible for all; nor is it surprising that the masses, stupefied from time immemorial in the cavern of Pain, hereditary and inescapable Pain, should, when released at last a little, drink some madness from the unaccustomed sun, and follow, as they do to-day, Pleasure for Pleasure’s sake, even over the precipice: nor, moreover, is it surprising that the vast majority of the people, educated, though it be but with a smattering, for the first time in history, should not yet to any great extent be partial to poetry, the final flower of the human intellect.

Read more of this lucid madness HERE

This stuff is crazy/beautiful – and Australian !  It is magnificent in its useless verbiage. It is the opening paragraph of a treatise on “Militant Poetry” by Bernard O’Dowd which I discovered recently. I love stumbling upon texts like this. It almost sounds like a parody of itself – it was scribed in 1909 and appears to be quite serious.
But that doesn’t mean we have to read it that way…

Do tell me more about that flower, Brother O’Dowd:

It is Poetry Militant I preach, and, as far as I can, wish to practice, and when at times, tempted mayhap by the sight of Australian Claude Lorraine picnic girls playing “drop the handkerchief” on a lush green meadow ringed by the fairy gold of the whispering wattle trees, I turn from the macadam to rest in a nook in a paddock dainty with maiden-hair and festooned with “supple-jack,” and attempt to lilt a fragment of the melodies of Poetry Triumphant, I have a very uneasy feeling that I am loafing and embarrassing the vanguard by an unwarrantable self-indulgence.