For a month when I tried not to do anything, I feel January was pretty productive. I wound up with a lot of thoughts about OUTREMER, and I've even started laying the groundwork for the second draft, in a leisurely sort of way. February is shaping up to be rather frantic, so we'll see how far I get with it.
One thing that's happening this year: someone is having a centenary. James McAuley is not just (in my opinion) one of the greatest Australian poets ever (and a bonafide Aussie larrikin), but Wikipedia credits him with engineering "a significant setback for modernist poetry in Australia". He's also simply a personal favourite. And he was born on October 12, 1917 - a hundred years ago this year.
So it seems appropriate for the first post of 2017 to be a poem by James McAuley. Here's one that's been a favourite for several years.
One Tuesday in Summer
That sultry afternoon the world went strange.
Under a violet and leaden bruise
The air was filled with sinister yellow light;
Trees, houses, grass took on unnatural hues.
Thunder rolled near. The intensity grew and grew
Like doom itself with lightnings on its face.
And Mr Pitt, the grocer's order-man,
Who made his call on Tuesdays at our place,
Said to my mother, looking at the sky,
'You'd think the ending of the world had come.'
A leathern little man, with bicycle-clips
Around his ankles, doing our weekly sum,
He too looked strange in that uncanny light;
As in the Bible ordinary men
Turn out to be angelic messengers,
Pronouncing the Lord's judgments why and when.
I watched the scurry of the small black ants
That sensed the storm. What Mr Pitt had said
I didn't quite believe, or disbelieve;
But still the words had got into my head,
For nothing less seemed worth of the scene.
The darkening imminence hung on and on,
Till suddenly, with lightning-stroke and rain,
Apocalypse exploded, and was gone.
By nightfall things had their familiar look.
But I had seen the world stand in dismay
Under the aspect of another meaning
That rain or time would hardly wash away.