Sunday, July 22, 2012


It is winter in temperate Australia and many thousands travel each weekend to the snowy mountains to ski and to enjoy all the secondary fun that goes with that most elegant of sports.  However, the region has its attractions in summer too and Mary Lang's poem, written in the 1930s, provides ample evidence.

Here are the humping plains, treeless, pale brown,
Where half-grown hills romp roundly, up and down,
And fat, white clouds dapple the rippling miles
With great deep-coloured shadows.  In long files
The sheep move down to water where a spring
Gushes beneath two willow trees which bring
A patch of deep shade to long, summer days.
Against the far-off mountains, piles a haze,
The blueness of of great distance, thick below
The pricking peaks that summer caps with snow;
And winter cloaks the whole long range with white,
From Canberra to Mount Kosciusko's height.
And on, beyond the mountains, travellers say
Plains wider far than these, stretch west, away
Right to the setting sun; I do not know.
I only love to see these grasses blow
Shyly beneath the truant summer breeze
Slipped inland from his lonely eastern seas;
Then, as a mob of sheep at break of day
Move off from camp, the slow clouds gather way
Before the little sea wind; and along
The happy earth the shadows slide, and pass
Into the dipping hollows, and along
The wide-flung purple of the cork-screw grass.

Monday, July 16, 2012

TOM GROGGIN by Mary Lang

These hauntingly beautiful verses were written during the 1930s by Mary Lang.  They were inspired by a signpost near Nimmatabel in the Snowy Mountains region of southeastern Australia.  The sign said 'To Tom Groggin' but it led her only to an old hut and a rotting fence.
There is, further south and higher in the mountains, an old cattle station called 'Tom Groggin'.  It was worked by highly skilled horsemen including Jack Riley, the legendary rider, who was said to have inspired Banjo Patterson's epic poem 'The Man from Snowy River.'

I was so long ago –
Surely the fathers of the oldest here
Were children when I lived.  I built a house
And made a fence and ploughed a field.  Today
A name is all of me that lingers here;
And still the proud trees stare into the creek,
And the bright Wild Mustard holds its ranks
And shakes its twisted banners in the grass.
All, all things have forgotten me; and I –
I am so old, so old, I have forgotten
If I ever knew stranger things, for now
I only know I built a little house
And made a fence and ploughed a virgin field.