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This file is about 35 printed pages long. Revision date: 03 January 2013.

John Tranter: Notes to poems

Collected Poems Volume 1

book cover

I should be glad to receive any corrections to these notes; also suggestions for poems published before 2000 to add to the book.
Please send an email to: jõhntránter [ât] fãstmail [dõt] fm


 No, you are not hallucinating:  there is no such thing as a John Tranter Collected Poems Volume 1, though I am planning one, and you can see the cover clearly to the right, featuring a photo of me in the mirror of a London hotel bathroom (clue: the shirt pocket is on the wrong side). These are interim notes for a proposed Collected Poems Volume 1, 1960-2000 (pub … whenever). A Collected Poems Volume 2 is planned for 2020.

These notes aim to give three kinds of information about each poem in this (proposed) book: first, the page number (and if needed the line number) in this book where the poem begins; second, any author’s notes and variants to the text; and third, in which volume(s) and on what page the poem previously appeared. Drafts and first serial publications have not been consulted, and variants are limited to changes to titles and a few in-line alterations. Poem titles are presented within guillemets «thus», magazine titles in italics, book titles in italics but shortened to italic capitals as sigla (e. g. SP: Selected Poems) as listed immediately below. Lemmata are followed by a single right bracket, thus]. For example:

      121.14: «The Raft» Title] «Waiting for Myself to Appear» SP. Poem revised for SP.     ¶ 123.21: the sun always rising/ into heat above an unfamiliar landscape] The main trunk route through Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan is the backdrop for this stanza, as it is for the poem ‘Balance’. RM 25, SP 117, T 97.

This entry means:
      On page 121, line 14, of this volume, the poem titled ‘The Raft’ appears. The title was given as ‘Waiting for Myself to Appear’ in Selected Poems, and the poem had been revised for that publication.     ¶ A second note about this poem, referring to page 123, line 21, quotes the lines ‘the sun always rising/ into heat above an unfamiliar landscape’ as a lemma, and provides a note from the author: ‘The main trunk route through Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan is the backdrop for this stanza, as it is for the poem ‘Balance’’. The final sentence states that this poem was published in the volumes Red Movie on page 25, Selected Poems on page 117, and Trio on page 97.

Note: poem line numbers are given to every line of text including poem titles, section titles, epigraphs, and epigraph citations, but not to poem section numbers or blank lines or stanza breaks. Line numbers cannot be given until page proofs are complete, which will be some time in 2012. Stanza, section, and verse paragraphs ambiguously broken at the ends of printed pages will be noted at that time.

John Tranter (left) with Lyn Grady (right) and friend, on the shores of the Aegean, 1967.

John Tranter (left) with Lyn Grady (right) and friend, on the shores of the Aegean, 1967.

List of books 1970–2010

P: Parallax and other poems Five Dock, Sydney: South Head Press, 1970. Published as Poetry Australia no. 34 in June 1970. A misprint on the half-title page wrongly dates the issue as ‘June 1968’.

RM: Red Movie and other poems Cremorne, Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1972.

BA: The Blast Area St Lucia, Queensland: Makar Press, 1974. As Gargoyle Poets 12.

AM: The Alphabet Murders Cremorne, Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1976. A sequence of 27 numbered poems, making up a chapbook published as such, but also later gathered with five other chapbooks (by five other writers) into an omnibus volume in a series titled Poems of the Month.

Crying: Crying in Early Infancy: 100 Sonnets St Lucia, Queensland: Makar Press, 1977.

DLL: Dazed in the Ladies Lounge Sydney: Island Press, 1979.

SP: Selected Poems Sydney: Hale and Iremonger, 1982.

G: Gloria King’s Cross, Sydney: Nicholas Pounder, 1986.

UB: Under Berlin: New Poems 1988 St Lucia, Queensland: University of Queensland Press (hereinafter UQP), 1988.

FH1: The Floor of Heaven Pymble: CollinsAngus&Robertson Publishers, 1992, reprinted.

FH2: The Floor of Heaven Todmorden UK: Arc Publications, 2000. With author’s minor changes.

FH3: The Floor of Heaven Sydney: Jacket Press, 2007. With author’s further minor changes.

AF: At The Florida St Lucia, Queensland: UQP, 1993.

GK: Gasoline Kisses Cambridge UK: Equipage, 1997.

LNR: Late Night Radio Edinburgh UK: Polygon Press (a division of University of Edinburgh Press), 1998.

DH: Different Hands North Fremantle, Australia: Folio/ Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1998.

HP: Heart Print Cambridge UK: Salt Publishing, 2001. (Some poems included in CP1. )

SM: Studio Moon. Cambridge UK: Salt Publishing, 2003. (Some poems included in CP1. )

DV: ‘Distant Voices. ’ Doctor of Creative Arts Thesis dissertation. University of Wollongong, 2009. Print and PDF.

B: Blackout Cambridge UK: Barque Press, 2000; and Sydney: Vagabond Press, 2000.

T: Trio Cambridge, UK: Salt Publishing, 2003. An omnibus collection of all the poems in three books published previously in Australia but long out of print: Red Movie (1972), Crying in Early Infancy: 100 Sonnets (1977), Dazed in the Ladies Lounge (1979).

UM: Urban Myths: 210 Poems: New and Selected St Lucia, Queensland: UQP, 2006. (Part.)

Books not included in CP1:

U: Ultra Rose Bay, Sydney: Brandl and Schlesinger, 2001.

BV: Borrowed Voices Beeston, Nottingham UK: Shoestring Press, 2002.

S: Starlight: 150 poems. St Lucia, Queensland: UQP, 2010.

CP1: Collected Poems volume 1. This volume.

CP2: Collected Poems volume 2. Yet to be compiled.


Parallax and other poems, 1970
book cover

Title page: Author’s name] In 1964, the year I turned twenty-one, a novel appeared published by the Oldbourne Book Co. Ltd., 121 Fleet Street, London, E.C.4, titled The Livin’ is Easy, by Australian author John Tranter. There had never been an author by that name, apart from me, and I was flabbergasted. When Frank Moorhouse presented me with a copy of this novel (for my birthday, in April 1964) he inscribed it: ‘John / I hope your poetry / is better than this.!!’ I discovered decades later that the author was journalist John Taylor Tranter, born in New Zealand and resident in Australia for most of his life. At one point he worked for the Bulletin weekly news magazine, as I did in 1993. I spoke to him once on the phone; he seemed a nice fellow. He died some time before the turn of the millennium. I felt obliged to use my middle initial (Ernest), until some years had passed without another novel by his hand. Some Australian libraries still list this novel under my name.

Page 17 «The Moment of Waking» P 25, SP 1, UM 3. This poem was placed also first in SP.

18 «Inertial Guidance» A self-contained aid to navigation used initially by submarines. P 9.

19 «Pause» P 10.

20 «Childhood» P 11.

21 «Grass Learning» P 12.

22 «The City, the Tree» P 13, SP 4, UM 3.

23 «Fragments» P 14.

24 «The Visit» Written after a visit to Aden and the Suez Canal in 1966. P 16, UM 4.

25 «Moving About» P 17.

26 «Kabul» Written after a visit to Kabul, Afghanistan, in the autumn of 1967.     ¶ 3: chorus of camels] A photo on <> shows Lyn Grady (later Lyn Tranter) in front of a herd of wild camels that appeared one morning in the north-west Afghan desert between Meshed and Herat, 1967.     ¶ 9: four thousand British corpses in the pass] An understatement. In the winter of 1841–42 the British garrison in Kabul retreated in the face of Afghan hostility. As they struggled through the snowbound Khyber Pass, they were persistently attacked. The British column of more than 16,000-strong (4,500 military British and Indian personnel, and 12,000 camp followers) was massacred in the 30 miles of gorges lying between Kabul and Gandomak. Only one man survived, or was allowed to survive as a warning: Dr William Brydon. P 18, SP 7, UM 5.

«The Hallway» P 19.

«Lancelot» P 21.

«Bardo Thodol (1918)» Title] Borrowed from the Tibetan Book of the Dead. P 22.

«evening / random transmissions received in the vicinity of Sol 3 please encode signal / winter» P 23.

«Rain» P 26.

«Departure» P 28.

«Point of View» Title] Originally «Punto di Vista» (incorrect Italian), later «Punto da Vista» P 29.

«Rescue» 6: the cross of blood and ice] the red cross symbol. P 30, UM 5.

«The Room» P 31.

«hop along way out to St. Louis St. » P 32.

«Man Falling» P 33.

«Sleeping Couple» P 34.

«Faery Queen» P 35.

«Somebody else» P 36.

«Young Architect» P 37.

«Villa» P 38.

«The Plane» P 39, UM 6.

«Whitey» P 40, UM 6.

«The Non-Commercial Traveller» Title] I had not read any other work with this title when I wrote this poem, though other works with this title exist. P 41, SP 5, UM 7.

«Nolan’s ‘Convict in Swamp’» Based on a painting by Sidney Nolan in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, in Sydney. P 42.

«Sight» P 43.

«Parallax» Parallax] is an apparent displacement or difference in the apparent position of an object viewed along two different lines of sight… Parallax also affects optical instruments such as binoculars, microscopes, and twin-lens reflex cameras that view objects from slightly different angles. (Wikipedia). This poem won a University of Sydney Students’ Union poetry prize in 1969; the judge was Martin Johnston. P 44.

«Spring» P 46.

«Pestilence» Shows the influence of Hans Magnus Enzensberger. P 47.

«Fable» Shows the influence of St-John Perse. Written off the coast of Java, 1966. P 49.

«The Wall» P 50, SP 6.

«Mary Jane» Title] Sometimes believed (mistakenly) to be a translation of ‘marijuana’. P 51, UM 8.

«Black Patrol» P 53.

«Machine» P 54, UM 8.

«Justice» P 55.

«Paint» P 56, UM 9.

«Parable of the Enlightened People» P 57.

«How they shot the saviour of the republic» P 58, SP 7.

«A Voyager Returns / Psychomimetic Paraboloid» P 59.

«Prayer» P 62.

Red Movie and other poems, 1972
book cover

«The Orange Spot» Title] During early 1966, in order to raise the sea fare to England, my wife-to-be Lyn and I worked the weekend graveyard shift at a fruit juice and takeaway coffee bar, part of the modest Orange Spot chain, in Sydney’s King’s Cross area, nocturnal haunt of prostitutes, poets, crazy people, drug addicts and criminals. They all came to the Orange Spot at one time or another. The chain was later (1970s) bought by Frank Nugan, who committed suicide in 1980, founder of the Nugan Hand Bank: ‘The Nugan Hand bank had become the centre of media attention, with spiralling allegations of international conspiracy, tax evasion, bribery, arms dealing, drug trafficking, money laundering, and links with the Central Intelligence Agency. The bank went into receivership in April 1980 and was investigated by the Commonwealth-New South Wales Joint Task Force on Drug Trafficking.’ (Wikipedia) RM 3, SP 8, T 3.

«Hospital» methaqualone hydrochloride] the sedative hypnotic drug methaqualone hydrochloride is known in Australia as Mandrax or Mandies, and the US as Quaaludes. RM 4, SP 8, T 3.

«Balance» Written after a visit to Iran and Afghanistan in the autumn of 1967. RM 5, SP 9, T 4, UM 10.

«Bestiary» RM 6, SP 9, T 4, UM 10.

«Ward Five» 15: ‘princely nature of our elder brother’] From Arthur Rimbaud, ‘Âge d’or’, 1872.     ¶ 17: ‘may you not be long on the way!’] From John Ashbery, ‘Thoughts of a Young Girl’, collected in Contemporary American Poetry, Ed. Donald Hall, Penguin, Harmondsworth, Middlessex UK, 1962, page 148: … Oh my daughter, / My sweetheart, daughter of my late employer, princess, / May you not be long on the way!’ RM 7, T 5, UM 10.

«The Road Back» RM 8, SP 10, T 6.

«On the Track of the Attainable» RM 9, SP 11, T 7, UM 11.

«Memoirs of a Forty-year-old Revolutionary» RM 10, SP 12, T 8.

«Lesson» RM 11, T 9.

«Julie» RM 12, SP 13, T 10.

«Sketch for a Portrait of a Young Woman» RM 15, SP 16, T 13.

«Conversations» Epigraph] As Madame Bovary was intended originally to satirise the bovine delusions of Emma Bovary, this poem was intended to satirise the bovine sentiments in the epigraph. Whether the present writer grew to identify with his main character in quite the way Flaubert famously did with his is open to question.     ¶ 2: Cronstadt] The name is borrowed from a character in Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, set in Paris in the 1930s. I assume he took the name from a street in Paris, the rue de Cronstadt, in the 15th arrondissement.    ¶ Mon semblable! Pitoyable frère!’ ] From Baudelaire, ‘Au Lecteur’ (‘To the Reader’) which ends: ‘Tu le connais, lecteur, ce monstre délicat,/ — Hypocrite lecteur, — mon semblable, — mon frère!’ (‘You know him well, reader: this fastidious monster — / Hypocrite reader! — my double! my brother!’)     ¶ Give up life, my boy, there’s nothing in it!] In Ezra Pound’s poem sequence ‘Hugh Selwyn Mauberly’ (1920) the writer Mr Nixon (said to be modelled on Arnold Bennett) gives the narrator some cynical advice about to how to get on: ‘Butter reviewers . . . And give up verse, my boy,/ There’s nothing in it.’ RM 17, SP 25, T 14.

«The Raft» Title] «Waiting for Myself to Appear» SP; poem revised for SP.     ¶ the sun always rising/ into heat above an unfamiliar landscape] The main trunk route through Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan is the backdrop for this stanza, as it is for the poem ‘Balance’. RM 25, SP 17, T 20.

«Red Movie» sister to breath] Arthur Rimbaud, «Âge d’or», 1872: ‘One of the voices/ always angelic/ — it is about me — / greenly expresses itself/ … and sings at this moment/ like a sister to breath’ (All Rimbaud quotations in these notes are from Oliver Bernard’s excellent translation for the Penguin Collected Poems, 1962. )     ¶ a delicate cowboy, so blue, his dawn/ sky/ is/ too] Ed Dorn, «Vaquero»: ‘in the dark brown night/ your delicate cowboy stands quite still. /… / Yi Yi, the cowboy’s eyes/ are blue. The top of the sky/ is too. ’ The pun ‘dawn’/ ‘Dorn’ is deliberate.     ¶ départ! départ!] Arthur Rimbaud, «Départ» («Departure»), section eight of «Illuminations».     ¶ ma faim] Arthur Rimbaud, from the poem «Fêtes de la faim», 1872: ‘Ma faim, Anne, Anne, / fuis sur ton âne. ’ (My hunger: Anne, Anne/ flee on your donkey. )     ¶ The Failure of Sentiment and the Evasion of Love] a chapter title from Leslie Fiedler, Love and Death in the American Novel (1959; revised edition: New York: Stein and Day, 1966. )     ¶ ce n’est rien: jy suis, j’y suis toujours] (It is nothing; I am here, I am still here.) Arthur Rimbaud, May 1872, the last line (italicised in the original) of the poem «Qu’est-ce pour nous, mon coeur, que les nappes de sang» (What does it matter to us, my heart, the sheets of blood).     ¶ Khan coming out of Mongolia — / changes from the outside, / Egyptian traits] fragments copied from books lying to hand one day in the honi soit offices (the student weekly newspaper) at Sydney University circa 1962; the earliest lines of the author’s to survive into a collection.     ¶ The Knowledge of Our Buried Life] The alarmingly modern words of Matthew Arnold, 1852, seeming to presage Freud: ‘But often, in the world’s most crowded streets, / But often, in the din of strife, / There rises an unspeakable desire/ After the knowledge of our buried life’ (Matthew Arnold, ‘The Buried Life’, in Poetical Works. London: Oxford University Press, 1950. p.246.) RM 35, SP 30, 29, UM 12.

The Blast Area 1974
John Tranter with his children and some pigs, Bodalla, NSW south coast, 1974.

John Tranter with his children and some pigs, Bodalla, NSW south coast, 1974.

«On the Beach» BA 7.

«Mark» BA 8, SP 43.

«The Guadalcanal Motel» BA 9, SP 44, UM 26.

«Guernica» BA 10, SP 45.

«The Country of Love» BA 11.

«Poem Ending with a Line by Rimbaud» The last line is indeed from Rimbaud’s poem «Les réparties de Nina» (Nina’s Replies), 15 August 1870. A lovesick youth asks a girl to spend a romantic day in the country with him. He paints a lyrical picture of the good times they will have, enthusiastically and at great length. Finally she interrupts with the complaint ‘Et mon bureau?’ — in effect, ‘But what about my office job? I have to go to work!’ See BA 12, SP 48, UM 27.

«The Disadvantage of the Diesel Engine» Disadvantage] one of which is its need to surface from time to time to obtain air, and thus become vulnerable to attack. BA 13, SP 46.

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«The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich» BA 14, SP 47.

«Cheap Thrills » BA 15, SP 49.

«What Camus Said» 17–18: Camus, Frank O’Hara, / all the restless ghosts.] The Algerian-French writer Albert Camus and the US poet Frank O’Hara share the unhappy distinction of having been killed by automobiles: Camus in the high-speed crash of his publisher’s car in which he was a passenger in January 1960; O’Hara — wide awake, though very tired and probably drunk — run over by a vehicle on Fire Island, New York, in July 1966. BA 16, SP 49.

«Love Story» 16–17: They drove head first / into the beautiful accident] I had been infected early with the bizarre and phantasmagoric imagery of British author J.G. Ballard. I apologise for the last line, which is deeply stupid. BA 17, SP 50.

«The Big Porsche» 4: McQueen – can he drive!] Actor Steve McQueen raced at Sebring in March 1970. Racing with co-driver Peter Revson in a Porsche 908 Spyder, the pair came first in their class, and second overall (barely losing out to Mario Andretti in a larger more powerful Ferrari). McQueen drove with his leg in a plaster cast, having broken his foot in six places two weeks earlier in a motorbike crash. At the end of the race he emerged from the Porsche, hobbling in pain, the cast having melted off his foot. BA 18, SP 51.

«The Territory of Darkness» BA 19, SP 52.

«The Dubious Synthesis» BA 20, SP 53.

«Compromise» BA 21, SP 54, UM 27.

«Making It» BA 22, SP 55.

«Money is a Kind of Poetry» Title] The phrase is an aphorism by US poet Wallace Stevens. BA 23, SP 56.

«The Question of Values» BA 24, SP 57.

«The Last Run» Title] Also the title of a 1971 movie starring George C. Scott. BA 25, SP 58.

«The Distillation of a Style» BA 26, SP 59.

«The Summing-Up» Title] Also the title of a literary memoir by W. Somerset Maugham. BA 27, SP 60.

«The Poem in Love» Epigraph] ‘Paul Ducasse’ and his epigraph were invented by the author. BA 28, SP 61.

The Alphabet Murders 1976
book cover

«The Alphabet Murders» forme] a body of metal type locked into a chase (a metal frame) ready for printing.     ¶ It’s his Seven-League Boots] the last lines of Robert Desnos’ poem «Recontre»: (C’est les bottes de sept lieues / cette phrase: ‘Je me vois’. ) The parentheses are included in the original.     ¶ RD FitzGerald] (1902–87), Australian poet and critic. The section parodies and quotes parts of an article he published in Southerly magazine, urging young poets not to abandon tradition.     ¶ Undo the past] This section (21) quotes some scholars on the topic of Sir Thomas Malory’s life, his identity and his epic Le Morte D’Arthur, authors recommended to me in 1974 by Stephen Knight. AM27, SP 69 revised, HP 51, UM 29.

Crying in Early Infancy: 100 Sonnets 1977

These one hundred poems were arranged in their present order for the first edition in 1977 by the publisher, Martin Duwell, at the author’s request, and originally only had numbers, and not titles. Some poems were differently arranged into pairs or groups by the author for SP, 1982. Thirty-seven were given titles by the author for their appearance as a group in HP in 2001 and the remainder in 2003 for their appearance in toto in T. Most are unrhymed; a few are rhymed sonnets, herein [rs].

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«1. The Tidal Wave» Title] «1» Crying. Crying 7, T 43.

«2. Non-Euclidean Geometry» Title] «2» Crying, SP 91. Riemann, Boole and Lobachevsky] Georg Friedrich Bernhard Riemann, 1826–66, German mathematician, George Boole, 1815–64, British mathematician and logician, and Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky 1793–1856, Russian mathematician. Crying 8, SP 91, T 44.

«3. Your Lucky Double» Title] «3» Crying. Crying 8, T 44.

«4. Jet Set» Title] «4» Crying, SP. Crying 9, SP 92, T 45.

«5. Ecstasy» Title] «5» Crying, SP. Crying 9, SP 92, T45

«6. Model Behaviour» Title] «6» Crying, SP. Crying 10, SP 93, T 46.

«7. F. O. » Title] «7» Crying, SP.     ¶ F. O. ] (British) Foreign Office. Crying 10, SP 93, T 46.

«8. Chloroform» Title] «8» Crying, SP. to be polite/ like Humphrey Bogart in The Treasure/ of the Sierra Madre] In John Huston’s 1948 film of the enigmatic writer B. Traven’s novel, Bogart plays a Fred C.Dobbs, a treacherous drifter who, early in the film, cadges coins from American tourists in the Mexican seaport of Tampico, in one case from John Huston in mufti: ‘Hey mister, could you stake a fellow American to a meal?’ (See still below.) Crying 11, SP 94, T 47.

Humphrey Bogart, John Huston, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, 1948.

Humphrey Bogart, John Huston, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, 1948.

«9. The Lilies of the Field» Title] «9» Crying, SP. Crying 11, SP 94, T 47.

«10. Kandahar–Kabul, 1967» Title] «10» Crying. Crying 12, T 48.

«11. Fighting the Secret Service» Title] «11» Crying. Crying 12, T 48.

«12. The Famous Chinese Poet» Title] «12» Crying, SP. Crying 13, SP 117, T 49.

«13. At the Laundromat» Title] «13» Crying, SP, HP; «At the Laundromat» UM.     ¶ The poem is (very loosely) a response to the visit to Australia in 1976 of US poet Robert Duncan, hosted partly by Robert Adamson in Sydney. I was living in Brisbane at the time. Crying 13, SP 125, HP 94, T 49, UM 57.

«14. (beginning with a line by David Malouf)» Crying 14, T 50.

«15. Korsakoff’s Syndrome» T 50, Title] «15» Crying.     ¶ Korsakoff] Korsakoff syndrome, also called Korsakoff psychosis, or Korsakoff disease: neurological disorder characterized by severe amnesia (memory loss). Many cases result from severe chronic alcoholism, while others are due to a variety of brain disorders, severe head injury, or a thiamine deficiency. (Encyclopedia Britannica 2004 CD-ROM). Crying 14, T 50.

«16. Sex Chemistry» Title] «16» Crying, SP. Crying 15, SP 95, T 51.

«17. Surfers Paradise» Title] Crying: «17». Surfers Paradise] A poetry magazine produced irregularly in Sydney, Australia, by John Forbes; also a modern beachside city in Queensland, Australia. See ‘Ode to Col Joye’. Crying 15, T 51.

«18. Pickup Truck» Title] «18» Crying, SP; «Pickup Truck» HP. Crying 16, SP 95, HP 83, T 52.

«19. The Diamond Sutra» Title] «19» Crying, SP. The Diamond Sutra is a short and well-known Mahayana sutra (or sermon), which teaches with an emphasis on the practice of non-abiding. It can be read in less than an hour. It is often memorized and chanted in Buddhist monasteries. (Wikipedia) Crying 16, SP 96, T 52.

«20. Double Images» Title] «20» Crying. Crying 17, T 53.

«21. The Function of Dreams» Title] «21» Crying. Crying 17, T 53.

«22. Triage» Title] «22» Crying, SP. Yeats rises in the breathless air/ as simple as a spelling error] The first word was originally a typing error; as I wrote the poem my wife was making bread in the kitchen of our home in Brisbane, and the yeast was causing the dough to rise. Crying 18, SP 99, T 54.

«23. The Pleasures» Title] «23 (The Pleasures)» Crying, SP. Crying 18, SP 99, T 54.

«24. Jack’s Tracks» Title] «24» Crying. Jack] Kerouac. Crying 19, T 55.

«25. (after A. de St. Exupery’s Vol de Nuit)» MacArthur … Yalu] General Douglas MacArthur was in charge of the UN troops defending South Korea during the early years of the Korean War (1950–53). To drive back the hordes of Chinese troops supporting the North Koreans, he proposed bombing the Yalu River (the border between North Korea and China) with nuclear weapons, and planned to invade China. Crying 19, T 54.

«26. Landscape With Automobile» Title] «26» Crying, SP; «Landscape with Automobile» HP. Crying 20, SP 97, HP 84, T 56.

«27. Miss Lonelyhearts» Title] «27» Crying, SP. Crying 20, SP 97, T 56.

«28. Barnstorm» Title] «28» Crying, SP; «Barnstorm» HP. Crying 21, SP 96, HP 83, T 57.

«29. Ten Statesmen» Title] «29» Crying, SP. Crying 21, SP 98, T 57.

«30. Starlight» The poem is derivative of some imagery from Howard Nemerov’s «Storm Windows» and poems by Robert Bly, both of whose work appears in Donald Hall, Contemporary American Poetry. (Harmondsworth UK: Penguin Books, 1962.)     ¶ Title] «30» Crying, SP; «Starlight» HP, UM. Crying 22, SP 100, HP 81, T 58, UM 50.

«31. (after American Graffiti)» Title] «31» Crying; «31 (after American Graffiti)» SP, «after American Graffiti» HP. Refers to the 1973 movie of that title directed by George Lucas. Crying 22, SP 100, HP 81, T 58.

«32. The Drunk Thug» Title]: «32» Crying. Crying 23, T 59.

«33. The Training Manual» Title] «33» Crying, SP; «The Training Manual» HP. Crying 23, SP 98, HP 84, T 59.

«34. Art» Title] «34» Crying, SP; «Art»HP, UM. Crying 24, SP 104, HP 85, T 60, UM 51.

«35. Artefact» T 60, Title] «35» Crying, SP; «Artefact» HP, UM. Crying 24, SP 104, HP 85, T 60, UM 52.

«36. Timing» Title] «36» Crying, SP. Crying 25, SP 105, T 61.

«37. Sediment» Title] «37» Crying, SP. Crying 25, SP 105, T 61.

«38. The Moated Grange» Title] «38» Crying, SP; «The Moated Grange» HP, UM.     ¶ Mandrax] the Australian brand name of a hypnotic prescription drug popular in the 1970s, methalaqualone, known commonly as ‘Mandies’, and known in the US as Quaaludes. Crying 26, SP 106, HP 86, T 62, UM 52.

«39. Film Noir» Title] «39»Crying, SP. Crying 26, SP 106, T 62.

«40. The Age of Mechanical Reproduction» Title] «40» Crying, SP. Crying 27, SP 101, T 63.

«41. The Bus» Title] «41» Crying, SP; «The Bus» HP, UM.     ¶ In 1957 I enrolled at Hurlstone Agricultural High School, at Glenfield near Liverpool on the south-west outskirts of Sydney. The 200-mile journey from my home town was by bus and train. Crying 27, Sp101, HP 82, T 63, UM 50.

«42. Toxophilus» Title] «42» Crying.     ¶ Toxophilus] from the Greek, meaning ‘lover of the bow [and arrow]’. The title of a treatise (1545), a defence of physical recreation for scholars in archery by Roger Ascham (pron. ASS-kum), 1515–68, English scholar and tutor to Queen Elizabeth I. Crying 28, T 64.

«43. The Hollywood Version» Title] «43» Crying, SP. Crying 28, SP 107, T 64.

«44. The Lessons» Title] «44» Crying, SP; «The Lessons» HP. [rs]. Crying 29, SP 108, HP 86, T 65.

«45. Patagonia» Title] «45» Crying, SP. Crying 29, SP 107, T 65.

«46. Two Figures» Title] «46» Crying. Crying 30, T 66.

«47. NW1» Title] «47» Crying, SP. [rs]. NW1] is the postal code of a comfortable North London suburb.

Crying 30, SP 108, T 66.

«48. Fashion Shoot» Title] «48» Crying. Crying 31, T 67.

«49. Phase Shift» Title] «49» Crying. Crying 31, T 67.

«50. (from a BBC synopsis)» Crying 32, SP 103, T 68.

«51. Trick Ending» Title] «51» Crying, SP. Crying 32, SP 103, T 68.

«52. The Museum» Title] «52» Crying, SP; «The Museum» HP. Crying 33, SP 110, HP 88, T 69.

«53. Duty» Title] «53» Crying. [rs]. Crying 33, T 69.

«54. I Know a Man Who Lives in the Dark» Title] «54» Crying, SP, «I Know a Man Who Lives in the Dark» HP, UM. Crying 34, SP 110, HP 88, T 70, UM 53.

«55. A Hard Art» Title] «55 (for Reinhold Karlssen)» Crying; «55» SP; «A Hard Art» HP. Crying 34, SP 109, HP 87, T 70.

«56. Jungle View» Title] «56» Crying. Crying 35, T 71.

«57. The Doll» Title] «57» Crying, SP; «The Doll» HP, UM.     ¶ Frank Moorhouse’s novel] is his third book, The Electrical Experience. Crying 35 SP 111, HP 89, T 71, UM 54.

«58. Oenology» Title] «58» Crying, SP. Crying 36, SP 114, T 72.

«59. Absinthe» Title] «59» Crying, SP; «Absinthe» HP. Crying 36, Sp114, HP 91, T 72.

«60. Telescopic Sight» Title] «60» Crying, SP; «Telescopic Sight» HP. Crying 37, SP 111, HP 89, T 73.

«61. The Spy» Title] «61» Crying, SP; «The Spy» HP, UM. Crying 37, SP 112, HP 90, T 73, UM 54.

«62. The Exile» Title] «62» Crying, SP. Crying 38, SP 112, T 74.

«63. Ballistics» Title] «63» Crying, SP; «Ballistics» HP, UM. [rs].     ¶ The poem was written in the mid-1970s, when the Vietnam War was still very much in people’s minds. Crying 38, SP 109, HP 87, T 74, UM 53.

«64. Position: Poet» Title] «64»Crying, SP; «Passport» HP; «Position: Poet» UM. Crying 39, SP 113, HP 90, T 75, UM 55.

«65. Weather Report» Title] «65» Crying, SP. Crying 39, SP 116, T 75.

«66. The Wine of the Region» Title] «66»Crying, SP. Crying 40, SP 116, T 76.

«67. (after a phrase by Laurie Duggan)» Crying 40, SP 117, T 70.

«68. The Painting of the Whole Sky» Title] «68» Crying, SP; «The Painting of the Whole Sky» HP, UM. Crying 41, SP 113, HP 91, T 77, UM 55.

«69. The Student Prince» Title] «69» Crying. Crying 41, T 77.

«70. The Decline of Narrative Painting» Title] «70» Crying, SP.     ¶ widow] I believe it was John Forbes who urged me to retain a typing error in the first line: in ‘It was greasy all over like a widow’; ‘widow’ should have been ‘window’.

Crying 42, SP 102, T 78.

«71. The Chicago Manual of Style» Title] «71» Crying, SP; «The Chicago ‘Manual of Style’» HP; «The Chicago Manual of Style» UM.     ¶ When I began work as Senior Education Editor at Angus & Robertson Publishers in 1971, then Australia’s most prestigious publisher, my tools of trade included the Manual of Style published by the University of Chicago Press. Crying 42, SP 102, HP 82, T 78, UM 51.

«72. The Beaches of the Caribbean» Title] «72» Crying, SP. Crying 43, SP 115, T 79.

«73. Winter Cruises» Title] «73» Crying, SP. Crying 43, SP 115, T 79.

«74. The Soto Zen School» Title] «74 (for Duncan Ellis)» Crying; «74» SP; «The Soto Zen School» HP; «74. The Soto Zen School (for Duncan EllisT. Crying 44, SP 118, HP 92, T 80.

«75. Debt» Title] «75» Crying, SP. delicate cowboy, no glue] the phrase must have slipped across the bibliographic border into this poem without my being aware of it at the time; see the note for ‘Red Movie,’ above: ‘a delicate cowboy, so blue, his dawn/ sky/ is/ too.’ Crying 44, SP 118, T 80.

«76. Half Moon» Title] «76» Crying. Crying 45, T 81.

«77. Hunting Moon» Title] «77» Crying. Crying 45, T 81.

«78. Pedagogy» Title] «78» Crying, SP. Su Shih] the Sung Dynasty Chinese poet and scholar of Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism whose literary name was Su Tung P’o, A.D. 1036–1101. Crying 46, SP 119, T 82.

«79. In the Casino» Title] «79» Crying, SP. Crying 46, SP 119, T 82.

«80. Lusaka» Title] «80» Crying, SP. Crying 47, SP 120, T 83.

«81. Going on Your Nerve» Title] «81» Crying, SP. Crying 47, SP 120, T 83.

«82. Night of the Colonels» Title] «82» Crying. Crying 48, T 84.

«83. Choice» Title] «83» Crying. Crying 48, T 84.

«84. The Rhetoric of Fiction» Title] «84» Crying, SP; «The Rhetoric of Fiction» HP.     ¶ Seen from my head, the reefer on the reef, / distorted to an image of a hunk of beef] For some reason I cannot now recall, this is a distorted rewriting of a couplet by Robert Adamson from his book Swamp Riddles, viz: ‘The man and bird are fishing from the headland’s reef:/ Seen through glass, distortions of my grief’. Crying 49, SP 121, HP 92, T 85.

«85. The Knock on the Door» Title] «85» Crying, SP.     ¶ 2: pethidene] corrected spelling from the first edition: ‘pethedine’.     ¶ 6: a hundred dB SPL] 100 decibels Sound Pressure Level, i.e. very loud.     ¶ 13: cooling valve] British usage, equivalent to US ‘cooling tube’, i.e thermionic valve. Crying 49, SP 121, T 85.

«86. Writing for Television» Title] «86» Crying, SP. Crying 50, SP 122, T 86.

«87. Scuba, the Acronym» Title] «87» Crying.     ¶ Acronym] Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. Crying 50, T 86.

«88. Thermal Drift» Title] «88»     ¶ 6: damaged hearing] In the mid-1970s, around the time this poem was written, the author discovered — in a radio studio control room, monitoring a stereo program  — that his hearing had been damaged by otosclerosis. Crying. Crying 51, T 87.

«89. The Blues» Title] «89» Crying, SP; «The Blues» HP, UM. Crying 51, SP 122, HP 93, T 87, UM 56.

«90. 1968» Title] «90» Crying, SP; «1968» HP, UM. Crying 52, SP 123, HP 93, T 88, UM 56.

«91. The Chev» Title] «91» Crying. Crying 52, T 88.

«92. Egyptian Reggae» Title] «92» Crying, SP.     ¶ Egyptian Reggae] is the title of a poem by John Forbes, and «Egyptian Register» the title of a 1944 poem by the hoax poet ‘Ern Malley’. Crying 53, SP 123, T 89.

«93. Tropics» Title] «93» Crying, SP. Crying 53, SP 124, T 89.

«94. On the Right Bank» Title] «94» Crying, SP. Crying 54, SP 124, T 90.

«95. By the Pool» Title] «95» Crying, SP; «By the Pool» HP, UM; «A Drink by the Pool» T.     ¶ The shipping container wharves that in the late 1960s disfigured the shores of Mort Bay, in the Sydney suburb of Balmain, have been replaced by a park. The container wharves in their turn had replaced a huge and filthy shipbuilding yard that had disfigured and polluted the shores of the bay for over a century. Crying 54, SP 125, HP 94, T 90, UM 57.

«96. Hobo, Computer» Title] «96» Crying. Crying 55, T 91.

«97. Note Found in a Bottle» Title] «97» Crying. Crying 55, T 91.

«98. Fever» Title] «98» Crying. Crying 56, T 92.

«99. Dictation» Title] «99» Crying. Crying 56, T 92.

«100. The Blue Mirror» Title] «100» Crying. Aden] The author visited the British-administered port of Aden in September 1966. Crying 57, T 100.

Back cover: 6: a $5 first] should be “a five pound first”

Dazed in the Ladies Lounge, 1979
book cover

«Rimbaud and the Modernist Heresy» Tu Fu] the quotations are from Tu Fu’s poem «The Roof Whirled Away by Winds» (from the anthology Robert Payne, ed. The White Pony. New York: Mentor, The New American Library of World Literature, 1960, 192.)     ¶ Fisher Stacks] the book repository at Fisher Library, at the University of Sydney.     ¶ Three times in one year I searched / Batavia] The year was 1971–72. Batavia is the old name for Jakarta.     ¶ Baudelaire, dwelling in his ‘too-artistic milieu’] Rimbaud, aged sixteen, summed up his great predecessor in a letter to his schoolteacher Paul Demeny: ‘Baudelaire is the first seer, king of poets, a real God. Unluckily he lived in too artistic a circle [un milieu trop artiste]; and the form which is so much praised in him is trivial. ’     ¶ like great music, / fall short of our desire] Rimbaud, «A Tale» (section three of «Illuminations»): La musique savante manque à notre désir.     ¶ the flowers of M. Banville wither] Rimbaud’s poem «Ce qu’on dit au poëte à propos de fleurs» (To the poet on the subject of flowers) was addressed ‘A Monsieur Théodore de Banville’, the oldest and most respected of the neoclassical ‘Parnassian’ poets and known for his beautiful poems on exotic themes. Rimbaud’s poem was signed Alcide Bava (‘Hercules Dribbler’, one of Rimbaud’s many pen names.) In forty rhymed quatrains, using a tone of savage mockery and employing a wide range of vigorous and bizarre imagery, he urges Banville to focus on the real, modern world: ‘In our own age of sago, when Plants work for their living’     ¶ an engineer] in Africa Rimbaud studied photography, exploration, engineering and other practical topics with his usual obsessive thoroughness.     ¶ a rich young painter/ posed naked, hiding his face behind/ a photograph of your face] the Australian painter Brett Whiteley visited the Rimbaud museum in Charleville in 1973; the colour snapshot mentioned here is reproduced on page 165 of Brett Whiteley (Sandra McGrath. Rushcutters Bay (Sydney): Bay Books, 1979).     ¶ Santayana’s condemnation] George Santayana, 1863–1952, Spanish philosopher and writer in the US and Europe. ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. ’ The Life of Reason, 1905, volume 1, chapter 12.     ¶ he told Banville to adopt / the telephone pole as his iron-voiced lyre… Century of Hell!] Rimbaud, «Ce qu’on dit au poëte à propos de fleurs» (see note above): ‘See! it’s the century of hell! and the telegraph poles, the iron-voiced lyre, are going to adorn your magnificent shoulders! Above all, though, give us a rhymed account of the potato blight!’ This mocking hymn to scientific progress predates Eliot’s and Auden’s industrial landscapes by fifty years. DLL 7, SP 126, T 97.

«The False Atlas» the colours … the unprovable yet vital need/ to have at least four] Unprovable when the poem was written in 1975, but not for long: ‘[T]he computer has made possible the solution of several long-standing problems in mathematics, such as the four-color problem first proposed in the mid-19th century. The theorem stated that four colors are sufficient to color any map, given that any two countries with a contiguous boundary require different colors. The theorem was finally proved in 1976 by means of a large-scale computer at the University of Illinois.’ ‘Mathematics,’ Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, 2000.
DLL 19, T 113.

«The Wine Bar Women» DLL 33, SP 143, T 124.

«American Women» I ain’t gonna lay in Maggie’s bed no more] A version of a line from Bob Dylan referring to working on ‘Maggie’s farm.’

DLL 34, SP 144, T 125.

«The Un-American Women»     ¶ Einstein… telescope] is taken from a televised documentary about the great man at Princeton.     ¶ Are you now or have you ever been a woman?] Based on the standard question asked at the US House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) hearings: ‘Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?’     ¶ G-Men] ‘Government Men’, FBI agents.     ¶ Mickey Finn] twentieth century: a solution of the sedative-hypnotic drug chloral hydrate in alcohol. Earlier the term referred to a strong purgative which a bartender might slip into unruly customers’ drinks to get rid of them in a hurry.     ¶ pentothal] the short acting barbiturate Pentothal (1936), an anaesthetic which can be injected directly into the bloodstream. DLL 35, SP 145, LNR 29, T 126, UM 64.

«Nineteen Fifty-Eight Women» DLL 36, SP 146, T 127.

«The Revolutionaries» ice-pick] Trotsky was murdered on Stalin’s orders, with an ice-pick blow to the skull, in August 1940, in his house near Mexico City. The assassin was Ramon Mercader, a Spanish-born agent for the Soviet secret police. DLL 37, SP 147, T 128, UM 65.

«Butterfly» DLL 38, SP 148, T 129.

«Leavis at The London Hotel» Title] «Leavis at the London» DLL, SP.     ¶ Leavis] Frank Raymond Leavis (1895–1978), an important twentieth-century British literary critic based in Cambridge. Leavis edited (1932–53) the journal Scrutiny, which combined an intense concern with literature and morality with an interest in practical criticism.     ¶ The London Hotel] in the Sydney suburb of Balmain.     ¶ bandages and a black eye… Humphrey Bogart] in the 1947 movie Dark Passage, set in San Francisco, Humphrey Bogart escapes from San Quentin prison after being framed for his wife’s murder. He hides out (with Lauren Bacall) and undergoes plastic surgery in an attempt to find the real killer. The first third of the movie is shot from the hero’s point of view; we first see his face after the surgery, when the bandages come off in a taxi. DLL 39, SP 149, LNR 30, T 130, UM 66.

«Sartre at Surfers Paradise» Title] Surfers’ UM.     ¶ Rum and Coca-Cola] the title of a popular calypso song. Originally composed by Lord Invader and Lionel Belasco, it was copyrighted in the United States by entertainer Morey Amsterdam and became a huge hit, selling some four million singles when a version was released in 1945 by the Andrews Sisters. T 131, DLL 40, SP 150, LNR 31.

«Foucault at The Forest Lodge Hotel» The hotel is in a Sydney suburb, Forest Lodge, adjacent to the University of Sydney; in the 1970s it was a haunt of students, junkies, drunks and others.     ¶ Title] «Foucault at Forest Lodge» DLL, SP.     ¶ 3: heats] beats [typo] LNR 32.3.     ¶ General Paresis] not a military officer, but a late (tertiary) manifestation of syphilis, characterised by progressive dementia and paralysis, as suffered by the dying Charles Baudelaire.     ¶ Suzanne Pleshette] US actress, star of Rage to Live and other movies.     ¶ Ladies Lounge] usually spelled thus. In Australian hotels or pubs until the 1970s, a public bar reserved for ladies and their partners where unaccompanied men were not allowed, and where alcohol was served. Women were not allowed in the main public bar in most hotels. DLL 41, SP 151, T 132, UM 68.

«Roland Barthes at the Poets’ Ball» Title] «Roland Barthes at the Poets Ball» DLL, SP.     ¶ Poets’ Ball] The 1979 Poets’ Conference and Ball, held at a workers’ club in Wollongong on 30 September, was a remarkably boisterous event. The guest speaker was Canadian poet Philip Roberts who addressed the gathering on ‘The Death of the Poet’.     ¶ Lawrence] DH Lawrence stayed from May to August 1922 in a cottage (named ‘Wyewurk’) in Thirroul, a town on the east coast of Australia near Wollongong, a steel and coal-mining city. Lawrence wrote his novel Kangaroo while staying there.     ¶ Chocolate Wheel] a simple gambling device consisting of a large painted and numbered wheel mounted vertically like a bicycle wheel on a pole. When it stops spinning, a flexible stop indicates the lucky number. T 133, DLL 42, SP 152.

«Enzensberger at ‘Exiles’ Bookshop» Title] «Enzensberger at ‘Exiles’» DLL, SP; «Enzensberger at Exiles Bookshop» LNR, T.     ¶ Exiles] ‘Exiles’ bookshop was established by Susumu Hirayanagi and Nicholas Pounder at 207 Oxford Street, Sydney, in February 1979, and closed in late 1982. This poem was written some years before the German poet Hans Magnus Enzensberger visited Australia. It was published by Nicholas Pounder in Polar Bear magazine, in an issue (the only issue published) devoted to Enzensberger, and was displayed in the window of the shop when Enzensberger called by in 1981. DLL 43, SP 153, LNR 33, T 134, UM 69.

«Apolitical Poem» DLL 44, SP 154, T 135.

«Telephone» Pop Rocks] A brand name of a type of candy, the granules of which effervesce in the mouth. DLL 45, SP 155, T 136.

«Radio Traffic 1: Lipstick» the Labomba] A dance popular in the 1950s.

DLL 46, SP 156, T 137.

«Radio Traffic 2: Flak Static» Laxettes] A laxative in the form of a chocolate bar, sold in Australia.     ¶ dunny] 1950s Australian slang for lavatory, toilet, esp. one detached from the house. DLL 47, 157, T 138.

«Radio Traffic 3: Foxtrot» DLL 48, SP 158, T 139.

«Radio Traffic 4: Tricycle» Tricycle] ‘Tricycle’ was the code-name of the brilliant double agent Dusko Popov, born into a wealthy Yugoslav family. He was recruited into the German Abwehr, reported the approach to the British, and worked as a British double agent through World War II, visiting his German controllers in Lisbon seven times between 1941 and 1944. At the end of the war Popov obtained British nationality and was awarded the OBE. The title would have been more appropriate to ‘Radio Traffic 2: Flak Static’, and is perhaps attached to this poem in error. DLL 49, SP 159, T 140.

«The Wind» E. N. G.] Electronic News Gathering; i. e. with portable video cameras linked by radio to head office, rather than with the older film cameras and magnetic tape recorders. The poem reflects morale problems and union unrest within the Australian Broadcasting Commission (as it was then; now: Corporation) in the late 1970s. DLL 50, SP 160, T 141, UM 70.

«The Germ» A crew of aliens in a spaceship watch an old episode of Star Trek. DLL 51, SP 161, T 142 UM 71.

«Moonshine» DLL 52, SP 162, T 143.

«Lipographia Literaria» Doktor Mabuse] Dr. Mabuse the Gambler, (1922), four-hour silent movie about a criminal genius who wants to conquer the world, directed in Weimar Germany by Fritz Lang. DLL 53, SP 163, T 144.

«The Great Artist Reconsiders the Homeric Simile» Footnote] See Matthew Arnold, «Sohrab and Rustum», lines 556–75: SP 184. DLL 54, T 145, LNR 25, SP 184, UM 72.

«Ode to Col Joye» Title] The title is a pun on Schiller’s ‘Ode to Joy’ (‘An die Freude’, 1785), set to music by Beethoven in his Ninth Symphony.     ¶ Col Joye] (stage name of Colin Jakobsen) and his brother Kevin were entrepreneurs of popular music in Australia from the late 1950s; Colin headed a rock band called ‘Col Joye and the Joye Boys. ’     ¶ a faint vapour trail/ across the Malayan sky] John Forbes’s father was a civilian meteorologist with the Royal Australian Air Force and John lived for some years as a child on the air force base at Butterworth in Malaya, near Penang.     ¶ Canberra poet] in the 1970s the poet Les Murray attracted a school of morally serious acolytes (Alan Gould, Kevin Hart, and Mark O’Connor) in Australia’s capital, Canberra, where the poet Professor AD Hope was also influential.     ¶ South Coast Haiku] Laurie Duggan’s ironic «South Coast Haiku» is about young counter-cultural people dropping out and living close to nature on the South Coast of New South Wales: ‘Rain drips through / The tin roof / Missing the stereo.’     ¶ Doug Anthony… The Land] Doug Anthony, a wealthy grazier and deputy Prime Minister of Australia for many years, was leader of the Country Party, a rural political party allied in a coalition with the conservative Liberal Party which ruled Australia for 23 years under Menzies, and later under other leaders. The Land is a newspaper for farmers.     ¶ Bob Adamson… bank robber] Australian poet Robert Adamson spent some years of his youth in reform school and jail. The death of the bank robber in a nearby suburb happened not long before the poem was written.     ¶ a beat-up Renault, how / Sydney, and how French!] an oblique reference to Ken Bolton’s book Blonde and French, whose title refers to the first line of Frank O’Hara’s poem «Meditations in an Emergency»: ‘Am I to become profligate as if I were blonde? Or religious as if I were French?’     ¶ a poem by Auden] the poem is «On the Circuit», about a poetry reading tour through the US, and (in fact) ends ‘Another morning comes: I see / Dwindling below me on the plane, / The roofs of one more audience / I shall not see again. // God bless the lot of them, although / I don’t remember which was which: / God bless the U.S.A., so large, / So friendly, and so rich. ’     ¶ Martin Duwell] the Brisbane-based academic and publisher of three of the author’s books: The Blast Area, Crying in Early Infancy: 100 Sonnets, and the anthology The New Australian Poetry. Martin was a scholar of Icelandic, and had travelled to Iceland. ‘Reykjavik’ was misspelled in the first printing.     ¶ Don Chipp] renegade from the ruling conservative Liberal Party, the founder of the splinter Australian political party the Democrats (in 1977), a middle-class, earnest and socially concerned party which for many years held the balance of power in the Senate, the upper house of review in the Australian Parliament.     ¶ Rodney Hall] British-born Australian poet and novelist. DLL 57, SP 138, T 146, UM 58.

Selected Poems, 1982
book cover

«A Jackeroo in Kensington»     ¶ Lines 1–3: An Aussie [ ] shame.] omit SP, UM. It was Laurie Hergenhan’s suggestion that these three lines be replaced for this edition, to read as they appeared in the poem’s initial publication, in Southerly, vol. 41 no. 4 December 1981 p. 429.     ¶ The eyes that look into Australia / Are European eyes, Peter Porter said] Peter Porter, «Talking to You Afterwards»: ‘… The eyes that see into Australia / Are, after all, European eyes, even those Nationalist / Firing slits, or the big mooey pools of subsidised / Painters. ’ In English Subtitles, 1981. SP 165, UM 73.

«Speakeasy» SP 166.

«The Poet At Dural» SP 167.

«The Water» SP 168.

«Meteorology» SP 169.

«Reversal Process» Reversal Process] The chemical development of slide transparency (diapositive) film. SP 170.

«The Letter» SP 172.

«3-D» SP 173.

«At The Criterion» ‘its fever, its absolute devotion to pleasure.’] Constantine Cavafy, «The Tomb of Iasis». SP 174.

Under Berlin, 1988
book cover

«Backyard» 2: the barbecue sausages / speaking the language of rain deceitfully] I worked as a radio producer for years, producing around forty radio plays. The opening image is based on the fact that the sound effect of a crackling fire, the sound effect of sausages spitting on a barbecue and the sound effect of distant water splashing onto concrete are practically indistinguishable.     ¶ 28: a Southerly Buster at dusk] When this poem was published in Harper’s in New York, the editor asked me if I’d like to provide a footnote to explain the cocktail mentioned in the last line. A Southerly Buster is in fact a gusty cold southerly wind which — if you’re lucky — appears at the end of a hot summer day in Sydney. UB 1, LNR 9, UM 74.

«Country Veranda 1 — Dry Weather» The house I grew up in, miles from the nearest town, had a deep open veranda on three sides. UB 2, LNR 11, UM 75.

«Country Veranda 2 — Rain» UB 3, UM 76.

«The Pool» the poet Apollonius] Apollonius Rhodius (c. 280–215 BC) was a scholar in the great library at Alexandria. See the note on the poem ‘Alexandria’, below. UB 4.

«The Bedroom Mirrors» 26–27: photographs / were flopped] When a photographic negative is placed wrong-side up and exposed onto a printing plate, the subsequent printed image appears reversed left-to-right, or ‘flopped’. UB 6, LNR 12.

«North Light» North Light] In Australia, where this poem is set, north light is the direct glare of the sun. UB 8, LNR 14, UM 76.

«Widower» dull red glow] The photographic darkroom is now almost obsolete. UB 9, LNR 15, UM 77.

«South Coast After Rain, 1960» UB 11.

«Plaza Suite». UB 12.

«Plaza Suite 1 — Luck» UB 12.

«Plaza Suite 2 — Breath» UB 13.

«Plaza Suite 3 — Sammy’s Song» UB 14.

«Crocodile Rag» UB 16.

«Debbie & Co. » UB 18, LNR 16, UM 78.

«Moonie» UB 20.

«Voodoo» These two critics teach us how to live] Sometimes I think that the ghosts of Matthew Arnold and FR Leavis lurk behind this poem. UB 21, LNR 18, UM 80.

«The Guides» 21: Robinson and Gregory] When the poem was written, in the 1980s, Robinson’s and Gregory’s street directories competed for the patronage of the Sydney driver. UB 23.

«Fine Arts» Learn Greek in a week can happen to a lucky student] UB 24.21; omit LNR 22, UM 81. UB 24, LNR 22, UM 81.

«Bathyscape» UB 25.

«Cabin Fever» UB 26.

«Shadow Boxing» UB 27.

«Cruising Height» 18: petrol-scented dawn] Unlike rhododactylos eos (see the note on «On Looking Into the American Anthology») the epithet petrelaiosmos (‘petrol-scented’) is rare in ancient Greek.     ¶ 24–25: in slow motion the launch window / tumbles up to the horizon] Inspired by a scene in the movie Alien where the crew prepare to land on the alien planet guided by the moving plot of a descent window (designed by Ron Cobb). UB 28.

«Braille» UB 30, LNR 23.

«The Creature from the Black Lagoon» Originally filmed in 3-D, this 1954 movie was directed by Jack Arnold. See «High School Confidential» below.     ¶ 11–12: yellow / foreigner] cowardly, not coloured.     ¶ 30–31: like a dead / king] William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act V, Scene i, Lines 210-216: ‘Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay, / Might stop a hole to keep the wind away. ’ UB 31, LNR 26, UM 82.

«Spark» UB 32.

«High School Confidential» This 1958 monochrome rock’n’roll movie was directed by Jack Arnold, who also directed The Creature from the Black Lagoon. UB 33, LNR 28, UM 83.

«Stratocruiser» A lumbering giant in its time, and biggest of the immediately post-war transports, the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser was derived from the B-29 bomber. Only 55 civil examples were sold and the type is chiefly remembered because it usually had a downstairs bar. UB 34, LNR 34, UM 84.

«Glow-boys» UB 35, LNR 35.

«Hot Air» Title] «Letter to America 1» UB. UB 36.

«Democracy» Title] «Letter to America 2» UB. UB 37.

«Letter to America» Title] «Letter to America 3» UB. NORAD] North American Air Defence Command, a vast underground radar nerve centre and attack control post operated by Canada and the United States of America, now (2010) historical. UB 38, LNR 36.

«The Daily Planet» Title] «Letter to America 4» UB. UB 39, LNR 37.

«On Looking into the American Anthology» The poem was written when the poets Robert Hass and Robert Pinsky were young. Later, they each went on to become Poet Laureate of the United States of America, Hass from 1995 to 1997, and his friend Pinsky walking in the door as he walked out, Laureate from 1997 to 2000.     ¶ rhododactylosrhododactylos eos was Homer’s epithet for the dawn goddess, ‘rosy-fingered dawn’. ‘But soon as early Dawn appeared, the rosy-fingered, then the people gathered about the pyre of glorious Hector. ’ Homer, Iliad xxiv. 776. UB 40, UM 87.

«Laminex» Laminex] a trademarked laminated decorative and hard-wearing plastic surface for table and counter tops, similar to Formica®.     ¶ 3: Newtown] the suburb of Sydney.     ¶ 19: Persian Room] haunt of the poet August Kleinzahler, transported to Sydney for the purposes of this poem from its usual location in back of the Persian Aub Zam Zam bar at 1633 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA 94117. UB 42, LNR 39, UM 85.

«Having Completed My Fortieth Year» The poem is a stanza-by-stanza reply to Peter Porter’s poem «On This Day I Complete My Fortieth Year», itself a response to Byron’s poem «On This Day I Complete My Thirty-Sixth Year»     ¶ 33: their droppings bronzed like babies’ booties] refers to the practice of casting babies’ first shoes, usually knitted woollen boots (or booties), in bronze, as a memento of the child’s infancy, perhaps to be presented to the child at the age of twenty-one. The implication is that the products of poets are preserved by similar formal means (especially rhyme) for futurity.     ¶ 58: drudger’s barge] A dredger’s [sic] barge appears in Rimbaud’s poem «Memory».     ¶ 59: being ‘absolutely modern’ as my mentor taught’] ‘one must be absolutely modern’ is a line — a paragraph, in fact — in the last section of Arthur Rimbaud’s farewell to literature, the prose poem «Une Saison en Enfer», 1873: ‘Il faut être absolument moderne.’     ¶ 63: twin cities] London and New York, seen from Sydney, Australia, and vice versa. UB 43, LNR 46, UM 92.

«Lufthansa» The poem reconstructs a flight from Venice to Munich in 1984. The poem won a prize on the occasion of The Australian newspaper’s twentieth anniversary in 1984 and was published in 1985 in the Angus & Robertson anthology of entries to that competition. UM 86.

UB 46, LNR 40.

«Shadow Detail» You press the bakelite button, and wait] The Belgian-born inventor Leo Baekeland (1863–1944) invented Bakelite in Brooklyn NY in 1907 as a synthetic substitute for the shellac used in electronic insulation. UB 47, LNR 42, UM 88.

«Parallel Lines» post blotto triste] The Latin motto ‘post coitum omne animal triste’ means ‘after sexual intercourse every animal is sad. ’ UB 48, LNR 43, UM 90.

«Those Gods Made Permanent» mainly discusses Joseph Losey’s film The Servant (1963) and Fritz Lang’s 1922 classic Doktor Mabuse the Gambler, a five-hour silent film which I had seen at the University of Sydney in the early 1960s.     ¶ 9: the old Remington] the typewriter, not the repeating rifle.     ¶ 45: plausibly imitating / the pose of an Old Italian Master] Parmagianino, perhaps: ‘Parmigianino, byname of Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola, Mazzola also spelled Mazzuoli (born Jan. 11, 1503, Parma, duchy of Milan [Italy], died Aug. 24, 1540, Casalmaggiore, Cremona), Italian painter who was one of the first artists to develop the elegant and sophisticated version of Mannerist style that became a formative influence on the post-High Renaissance generation.’ — Encyclopaedia Britannica, at; the subject for John Ashbery’s noted poem ‘Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror’ (1975). From Joseph Losey’s ‘The Servant’ comes the still photo below. UB 51, LNR 49.

Still from the Joseph Losey film The Servant, 1963.

Still from the Joseph Losey film The Servant, 1963.


«During the War» Set in Australia during the years of World War Two. UB 57.

«Sex Chemistry: a sequence» UB 65.

«1. Childhood» UB 66, LNR 67.

«2. Boarding School» 7: the silver rose] The shower head. ¶ 8: disappearing universe] Water running down the plug-hole. UB 67, LNR 68, UM 95.

«3. Papyrus» Title] Ezra Pound’s poem «Papyrus», a translation of the fragmentary remains of the first three lines of a (much longer) poem by Sappho, is discussed in Hugh Kenner’s The Pound Era. It was reconstructed from a fragment of papyrus that came to Berlin from Egypt in 1896. Pound’s poem runs as follows: ‘Spring / Too long… Gongula… ’     ¶ 7: billy on the boil] Billy or billy can: Australian: any container in which water may be carried and boiled over a campfire.     ¶ 21: hetaeraeHetaerae were courtesans, that is to say, sophisticated companions and prostitutes. Unlike most other women in Greek society at the time, hetaerae were educated. [They] were the only females who would actively take part in the symposiums [and] their opinions and beliefs were respected by men. (Wikipedia) UB 68, LNR 69, UM 96.

«4. After the Dance» 4: ligatures] From the Latin ligare, to bind or tie up. ‘In writing and typography, a ligature occurs where two or more letterforms are written or printed as a unit. ’ (Wikipedia) UB 69, LNR 70, UM 97.

«5. Party Line, 1956» UB 70, LNR 71.

«6. Haberdashery» UB 71, LNR 73, UM 98.

«7. Poolside» UB 72, LNR 74, UM 99.

«8. Spin-the-Bottle» 28: Mister President] because of the mispronunciation of Herbert Hoover’s name by a functionary, it has since been traditional never to use the personal name of the President of the United States at any public occasion. He is always referred to as ‘Mister President’. UB 73.

«9. Three Hand-coloured Photographs» UB 74.

«10. Crosstalk» Title] In electronics, crosstalk occurs when a signal transmitted on one circuit or channel creates an undesired effect in another circuit or channel, for example, when sounds from one channel of a stereo recording leak into the other channel. UB 75.

«11. At The Newcastle Hotel» Title] «At The Newcastle» UB, LNR. The bar of the Newcastle Hotel in George Street Sydney near Circular Quay was a legendary meeting place for artists, journalist, accountants, lecturers, wharf labourers and students; it closed in the early 1970s. It has been apotheosised (as The Wessex) in Martin Johnston’s novel Cicada Gambit.     ¶ 3: green drink in a green shade] ‘… Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less, / Withdraws into its happiness [… ] Annihilating all that’s made / To a green thought in a green shade’ (Andrew Marvell, «The Garden».) UB 76, LNR 75, UM 99.

«12. The Little Engine» UB 77, LNR 76.

«13. Country Music» Title] «13. Sonnet: Country Music» UB. UB 78.

«14. Affairs of the Heart» UB 79, UM 100.

«15. Delirium» UB 80, LNR 77.

«16. Lullaby» Title] «16. Sonnet: Lullaby» UB.     ¶ 6: Woop Woop] the name of a mythical town in Outback Australia, characteristics: remote, old-fashioned, out of touch, absurdly rural. UB 80, LNR 78, UM 101.

«17. Trolley» 27: Ducking for Apples] otherwise known as ‘Bobbing for Apples’, a party game where the participant has to take a floating apple from a tub of water using only his or her teeth. Dorothy Parker is supposed to have walked into a party and asked her host ‘What are they doing?’ ‘Why, ducking for apples,’ he replied. Parker sighed and said ‘There, but for a typographical error, is the story of my life. ’ UB 82, LNR 79.

«18. Life Class» UB 83, LNR 80.

«19. Dirty Weekend» 3: fuck-truck] A ranch wagon, station wagon or van fitted out with a mattress. For its emergence through Australian slang into poetry, see Professor Gerald Wilkes, Dictionary of Australian Colloquialisms, 1985 or later edition, which quotes this poem.     ¶ 15: Serepax] One brand-name of the anti-anxiety agent Oxazepam, belonging to the benzodiazepine group which includes Valium, usually tinted pink. UB 84, LNR 81, UM 101.

«20. Khaki» UB 85, LNR 82.

«21. Modern Art» UB 86, LNR 83.

«22. Malaya, 1926» UB 87, LNR 84.

«23. La Pulqueria» Title: La Pulqueria] A pulqueria is a Mexican saloon selling pulque, a crude milky alcoholic brew derived from the juice or sap of the agave, a member of the aloe family. When distilled, pulque makes a colourless liquor, mescal. In his novel On The Road (London: Andre Deutsch, 1958. First edition, pp. 301–2) Jack Kerouac visits Mexico City: ‘We wandered in a frenzy and a dream. We ate beautiful steaks for forty-eight cents in a strange tiled Mexican cafeteria [… ] You went by the sour stink of pulque saloons; they gave you a water glass of cactus juice in there, two cents.’ UB 88, LNR 85, UM 102.

«24. Hack Writer» UB 89.

«The Subtitles» A prose poem. It was adapted for radio (for two voices), produced by Jane Howard (now Jane Ulman), and broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation 0n 23 September, 1985. It has since been broadcast in a French translation by La Société National de Radiodiffusion France-Culture. A fuller and more reasonable treatment of the ten delusory beliefs that feature in this piece can be found in Albert Ellis and Robert Harper, A New Guide To Rational Living. UB 90.

«California Poppies» Title] «Californian Poppies» UB. UB 97, LNR 56.

«Sail Away» UB 100, LNR 59.

«Halothane» Halothane] is a volatile synthetic organic compound used as a general anaesthetic.     ¶ The poem emerged from a draft made up of a sequence of textual transformations of fragments of other poems in Under Berlin, predominantly «Sail Away». Or perhaps vice versa. UB 108.

«Four Epigrams» A group of four short poems; see below. UB 112.

«The Latin Motto» UB 112.

«Uniform» 2: Winston] This imaginary character is very loosely modelled on the late John Forbes, whose dismissive comment about poet and academic Andrew Taylor is reproduced here. UB 112.

«Cicada Gambit» About poet Martin Johnston. UB 113.

«Alexandria» Like Sydney, Alexandria was a polyglot mercantile city-port founded as a colony and situated far from the great centres of empire, Athens and Rome. UB 113.

The Floor of Heaven, 1992, 2000, 2007
book cover

The Floor of Heaven, a collection of four interlinked epyllia, was published in 1992 and set on the NSW school syllabus for several years under the general topic of ‘gender relations’. The book was widely reviewed. Two critics objected to the tone — a ‘crudity of feeling’, or too ‘yellow-press’ — and though most reviewers carefully kept the ending a surprise for the sake of the book’s potential readers, one gave it away. You can read some of those reviews on <>.

«Gloria» Grandfather’s name had been Larsen] Australian poet Henry Lawson’s father was Niels Herzberg Larsen, a Norwegian-born miner who went to sea at 21 and arrived in Melbourne in 1855 to join the gold rush.     ¶ alter ego perhaps, the two faces of Eve] The Three Faces of Eve, a 1957 American film adaptation of a case study by Thigpen and Cleckley, based on the true story of a woman who suffered from multiple personality disorder. (Wikipedia)     ¶ Korea and brainwashed, and turned loose / to assassinate the top men in government] The basic plot of the novel The Manchurian Candidate (1959), by Richard Condon, a political thriller novel about the son of a prominent US political family who has been brainwashed into being an unwitting assassin for the Communist Party. The novel has been cinematically adapted twice, in 1962 and 2004.     ¶ a butterfly collector] Vladimir Nabokov was a noted lepidopterist.     ¶ plotted to murder her blind husband] The basic plot of Nabokov’s 1936 novel Laughter in the Dark.     ¶ Blue Ruin] inferior liquor, gin (Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1785).     ¶ Where your memories are joined] ‘Patient N. A. suffered brain damage as a result of a freak accident in which he was stabbed through the nostril with a fencing foil (a long metal blade) held by one of his room-mates. [… ] Patient N. A. experienced significant anterograde amnesia as well as some retrograde amnesia, affecting memories from several years prior to his accident. [… ] His intelligence and short-term memory were preserved, but he had difficulties forming new declarative (explicit) memories.’ (Laura Freeburg. Discovering Biological Psychology, Cengage Learning, page 362. At Google Books, 4 August 2010. ) ‘N. A. has been amnesic since 1960 when at the age of 22 years he sustained a penetrating brain injury with a miniature fencing foil. The amnesia primarily affects verbal material and occurs in the absence of other detectable cognitive deficits. ’ (Experimental Neurology Vol 105, Issue 1, July 1989, Pages 23-35).     ¶ a basement dump in Darlinghurst] adjacent to King’s Cross: no rooftop views here. G 1, FH1, 3; FH2, 7; FH3, 11.

«Stella» Pearl Harbour and the Liffey aren’t the same] Sandra has conflated James Jones, author of From Here to Eternity, a novel featuring the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, and Joyce Cary, author of The Horse’s Mouth, into James Joyce.     ¶ Yalu] The Yalu River is a border between North Korea and China, and was strategically important during the Korean War, 1950-53.     ¶ Sid Grossman] His photographs of the working class at play on Coney Island in the 1950s are notable.     ¶ Lisette Model] Austrian-born US photographer; the Model quote is genuine.     ¶ a tiny etching / that I felt certain was a Rembrandt] Poet Martin Johnson owned just such a Rembrandt etching.     ¶ Patrick White said] Indeed he did, in his essay ‘The Prodigal Son’, Australian Letters, April 1958.     ¶ Bechstein] a German make of piano, est. 1835.     ¶ a glimpse of the evening sky / through a distant window with red drapes] The narrator is mistaking a painting for the real thing, ‘a large oil’ painting which he studies later: ‘strongly coloured, framed between a pair of / crimson drapes’.     ¶ the crash of steel cars colliding / underground] ‘I can hear cars, moving on steel rails, colliding / underground’ US poet James Wright, «Miners», 1940s, collected in Contemporary American Poetry, Ed. Donald Hall, Penguin, Harmondsworth, Middlessex UK, 1962.     ¶ Adler… / … eagle] ‘Adler’ is German for ‘eagle’. FH1, 29; FH2, 27; FH3, 33.

«Breathless» 5: Florenzini’s] Among the dreary wasteland of Sydney in the early 1960s there was one oasis of bohemian good cheer, cheap spaghetti and plentiful red wine: a coffee lounge in Elizabeth Street near Hunter Street called Lorenzini’s. It later moved to William Street near King’s Cross, and later (late 1960s, I think) closed. The Newcastle Hotel in George Street Sydney near Circular Quay was another gathering place for artists, journalists and others. These two places (plus a few others) are blended into Florenzini’s.     ¶ some insurance executive from New Haven] In 1916 the poet Wallace Stevens joined the home office of the Hartford Accident and Indemnity and left New York City to live in Hartford, where he would remain the rest of his life. One of his poems is titled «An Ordinary Evening in New Haven» (1950).     ¶ The Harbour flows always to the East… ] the poem which Mr Lee recites is a loose and rather clumsy translation of the first and last stanzas of ‘Meditation at Red Cliff’, by Su Shih, the Sung Dynasty Chinese poet and scholar whose literary name was Su Tung P’o, A D 1036–1101. A complete and more reliable version, translated by Yu Min-chuan, can be found in the anthology The White Pony, ed. Robert Payne, Mentor (The New American Library of World Literature). New York: 1960, page 266. FH1, 68; FH2, 57; FH3, 65, UM 104.

«Rain» Pequod] Captain Ahab’s ship in Herman Melville’s novel Moby-Dick.     ¶ came back from Korea] The Korean War ended in 1953.     ¶ I’d done some darkroom work] so had the author, in 1968.     ¶ Linotype machine] A typesetting machine, used in newspaper offices for a century, it made slugs (lines) of metal type from a molten mixture of lead, antimony and tin.     ¶ Hartford was a nice little town] from the description, a town not unlike Moruya, on the south coast of New South Wales, where the author grew up.     ¶ Reading, an Englishman / who set up an agricultural feed depot] The British poet Peter Reading (pron. ‘redding’) (b. 1946) worked for some years as a weighbridge operator at an agricultural feed mill in Shropshire.     ¶  process camera] plate camera FH1, FH2, FH3.     ¶ game] willing to take a gamble     ¶ my brother dead on his motor bike] see «Breathless»: ‘Tony — / that was my brother [… ] a Thunderbird hit him’ FH1, 93; FH2, 77; FH3, 87.

At The Florida 1993
book cover

«Storm over Sydney» A poem that inhabits the landscape of noted Australian poet Kenneth Slessor’s ‘William Street’, and attempts to employ some of his verbal richness. His traffic-lights (‘red globes of light, the liquor-green’) are echoed by the ruby cellophane and holly in this poem.     ¶ A note on the form: when my friend the late Martin Johnston and I engaged in an exchange of poems in 1979, the sequence of eight or ten pieces we wrote alternately happened to be thirty lines long, mostly with complicated rules and rhymes, and I’ve taken the following note (with some amplification) from the deliberately un-serious notes we composed to accompany that unfinished project:

The ‘trenter’. The form was first given formal recognition by the critic Ernst Dreizig, in the early thirties. In his article ‘Thirty Years of German Expressionism — Poetics and Perversion’ he traced the use of this form to the French poet Jean-Claude Trentignant, who in 1830 published (only thirty copies of) a small volume of 30-line poems, in Alexandrines, with the rhyme scheme: a b a c b d c e d f e g f h g i h j i k j l k m l n m o n o, the rhymes of which (except for the first a b a and the last o n o) look alternately forward and backward three lines at a time. Dreizig regarded this pattern as psychologically superior to the couplet, which he claimed was ‘monotonous’, and to the standard a b a b quatrain. Its rhymed use is now only rarely seen, but in its blank verse form it could be claimed to extend the range of discourse available to the sonnet without falling into garrulity. Its name comes of course from the French trente, for ‘thirty’.

¶ 28. little park] The ‘little park’ I had in mind is Beare Park, at Elizabeth Bay in Sydney, near where Slessor lived at one time. AF3, SM 46, UM 146.

«The Romans» This poem came to me while visiting my dentist, Dr Grahame Caisley, whose surgery at that time overlooked Sydney’s Hyde Park. Ibises had recently begun to descend on Sydney’s parks from their usual haunts in the country, and a sub-text of the poem is the connection between librarians, ibises and the ancient city of Alexandria. The poet and librarian Callimachus (c. 305–c. 240 B. C. ) is supposed to have quarrelled with his colleague (and erstwhile student) Apollonius, accusing him of writing poems to please the common multitude. He wrote a bitter poem attacking him called ‘Ibis’ (the ibis was supposed to purge itself through the mouth), which has been lost, though a supposed translation of it by Ovid exists. As the Ovid poem notes, Ovid ‘named his enemy’ an ibis and indicates (447–8) that he was imitating Callimachus. Apparently ibises still infest Alexandria, fossicking among what rubbish they can find. AF 4, SM 42, UM 145.

«A Marriage» AF 5, SM 111, UM 139.

«Journey» The poem is written in the form used by Francis Webb in his early poem «Towards the Land of the Composer». AF 6, SM 102, UM 127.

«Ariadne on Lesbos» This poem is written in an English accentual-syllabic adaptation of the Sapphic metre, and is the only poem I have written entirely in Sapphics. In Greek myth Ariadne, of course, visited Naxos, not Lesbos.     ¶ water-clock droplets] The Greeks used the ‘clepsydra’, a clock rather like an hour-glass, that told time by the passing of water through a small hole.     ¶ Boofhead] A droll character from a 1950s Australian newspaper comic strip. AF 8, SM 34, UM 136.

«Leaving The Sixties» Dedicated to Michael Dransfield, and set in the seedy King’s Cross area which was his frequent haunt. AF 11.

«Days in the Capital» The poem is not a translation, and it is only loosely in the style of the Alexandrian poet Constantine Cavafy who was born on 29 April 1863 and died on the same date in 1933 in Alexandria (Egypt), the date of my own birthday. The lamp called ‘Raymonde’, however, is actual, and belonged to Ormond College in Melbourne where I wrote the poem. AF 12, SM 37, UM 139.

«God on a Bicycle» 1: a cloud / shaped like a camel, then a weasel] Hamlet, 3. 2. 392–99: Hamlet: Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel? / Polonius: By th’ mass, and ’tis like a camel indeed. / Hamlet: Methinks it is like a weasel. / Polonius: It is back’d like a weasel. / Hamlet: Or like a whale. / Polonius: Very like a whale.     ¶ Not long after the poem first appeared in print, I heard that John Forbes had fallen off his bike in Melbourne, while carrying a vacuum cleaner strapped to his back. He injured his arm badly. When he next saw me he said ‘Don’t write any more bloody poems like that one, mate; it’ll be the death of me.’ AF 13, SM 27, UM 131.

«The Painted Veil» Title] The Painted Veil is a 1925 novel by British author W. Somerset Maugham. Maugham’s title comes from the first line of an unfinished sonnet by Shelley, ‘Lift not the painted veil which those who live call Life’. AF 14.

«Anyone Home?» 25: Paddock, sir, the witch’s cat.] There seems to be a misreading of Macbeth Act I Scene 1 here. ‘Graymalkin’ is the witches’ familiar spirit in the form of a cat, and ‘paddock’ is an archaic English word for toad.     ¶ 39: Appaloosa] A short, sturdy horse usually with a spotted or mottled coat, brought to the Americas by the Spanish (or perhaps by Russian fur traders) and associated with the Nez Percé Pueblo Indian tribe from about 1700 A. D.     ¶ 52: Jack invented the calculus] Another misreading: the Scottish mathematician John Napier in fact invented logarithms, not the calculus. AF 15, SM 38, UM 142.

«Australia Day» A public holiday, 26 January, commemorating the invasion of Australia by the British Navy, who made the first viable settlement on the shores of Sydney Harbour in 1788. AF 18.

«The Moths» a typewriter shut with a snap] The typewriter is a Smith-Corona electric portable, circa 1956. AF 19, SM 43.

«Opus Dei» Title] ‘Work of God’, a missionary prelature of the Roman Catholic Church. Despite its emphasis on good works and prayer, it has often been accused of secrecy, ultraconservative beliefs, a right-wing political agenda, and even cult-like methods.     ¶ What I have scribbled I have scribbled] echoes Pontius Pilate’s ‘quod scripsi scripsi’.     ¶ 4: ‘Blue Hills’ is a frail murmur through static] Blue Hills was the title of a long-running Australian radio serial about rural life broadcast nationally on from 1949 to 1976, itself a sequel to an earlier serial The Lawsons, both written by Gwen Meredith.     ¶ 5: the river heights] The ABC broadcast on national radio a litany of river heights every weekday.     ¶ 53: bodgies] There are two senses of the word bodgie in Australian English. In the 1940s and 1950s it meant: ‘Something (or occasionally someone) which is fake, false, or worthless’. In the 1950s another sense of bodgie arose: a male youth, distinguished by his conformity to certain fashions of dress and larrikin behaviour; analogous to the British ‘teddy boy’. (from: Australian National Dictionary. )     ¶ 56: the hair Hokusai] — I was thinking of Hokasai’s famous woodcut ‘The Great Wave Off Kanagawa’ (1831).     ¶ 56: delft] The famous blue tint of fine faience porcelain made in Delft in Holland (in imitation of Chinese originals in the 1600s).     ¶ 90: Country Party: the conservative precursor to the National Party; a political party for non-urban people. AF 22, SM 47, UM 148.

«Gravity» AF 26.

«Decalcomania» AF 27, SM 106.

«Dark Harvest» AF 30, SM 30, UM 132.

«Stony River» AF 39.

«At The Florida» 43: Hartford] See the note on «Breathless», above. AF 40, SM 28, UM 129.

«Falling» AF 42, SM 104, UM 140.

«Hot Nights» AF 44.

«A Man and a Woman» AF 49, SM 109.

«North Woods» 21: trochus shirt button] The marine gastropod Trochus niloticus has been harvested commercially for over a century, mainly for the manufacture of buttons from the shell. Plastics largely replaced natural shell in button manufacture in the 1950s, though the industry has revived since the 1970s because natural shell buttons have become popular on high-quality shirts. Trochus shell exports total 3, 000 to 4, 000 tonnes annually. AF 51, SM 52, UM 152.

«The Other Side of the Bay» AF 55, SM 61.

«Curriculum Vitae» AF 57, SM 98.

«Con’s Café» A ‘reverse haibun’. The haibun is a form developed in 17th-century Japan; usually a short prose passage is followed by a haiku. For the ‘reverse haibun’, I inverted and re-engineered the form for my own purposes, settling on a twenty-line stanza of free verse, followed by a paragraph of prose. AF 65, GK 7, UM 155.

«Another Country» See note on «Con’s Café» AF 66.

«Cellar» See note on «Con’s Café» AF 67, GK 8.

«Cubans» See note on «Con’s Café» AF 68, GK 9.

«Oblivion» See note on «Con’s Café» AF 69, GK 10.

«Dizzy» See note on «Con’s Café» AF 70, GK 12.

«The Narcolept» See note on «Con’s Café» Narcolepsy: a condition characterized by an extreme tendency to fall asleep whenever in relaxing surroundings. AF 71, GK 13.

«Smoke» See note on «Con’s Café» AF 72, GK 14.

«Two Views of Lake Placid» See note on «Con’s Café» AF 73, GK 16, UM 157.

«At Naxos» See note on «Con’s Café».     ¶ The Australian audio artist Kaye Mortley asked me to compose a prose piece in the form of a letter or postcard from the Greek island of Naxos. She was planning a radio work in Paris, to be made up of a montage of a dozen or so similar pieces. Naxos was the island where the ingrate Theseus had abandoned the distraught Ariadne, the woman who had saved his life by providing him with the thread that led him out of the labyrinth of the Minotaur.     ¶ 1: I write to you from the end of the world] This line is a loose translation of the opening line of Henri Michaux’s prose poem «Je Vous Écris d’un Pays Lointain». Michaux’s poem also contains the following lines: ‘The scent of eucalyptus trees surrounds us: kindness, serenity, but it can’t protect us from everything, or do you think it really can protect us from everything?’ AF 74, GK 11, UM 156.

«Snap» See note on «Con’s Café» 1930] UM 158: omit [typo]. AF 75, GK 17, UM 158.

«Percentage Macedonian» See note on «Con’s Café»     ¶ Title] The title was kindly donated by John A Scott. AF 76, GK 18.

«Tantrum Gang» See note on «Con’s Café» AF 77, GK 19.

«Old Europe» See note on «Con’s Café» AF 78, GK 20, UM 159.

«Exiles» See note on «Con’s Café» AF 79, G 21.

«Cambridge Couples» See note on «Con’s Café». GK 22.

«Snip» See note on «Con’s Café» AF 80, GK 23.

«Family Scent» See note on «Con’s Café» AF 81, GK 24.

«Acid Rain» See note on «Con’s Café» AF 82, GK 25.

«Mahogany» See note on «Con’s Café» AF 83, GK 26.

«Invisible Rivets» See note on «Con’s Café». GK 27.

«Gasoline» See note on «Con’s Café» AF 84, GK 28.

«Box Contaminant» See note on «Con’s Café» AF 85, GK 29, UM 160.

«A Plume of Ash» See note on «Con’s Café» ¶ 19: as glib as a Martian poet] In the late 1970s Craig Raine’s poem «A Martian Sends a Postcard Home» appeared, in which an English family’s day-to-day life was viewed as though through the limited and distorting linguistic apparatus of a visiting alien. To thus mock up a poem from a thick appliqué crust of displaced metaphors became a trend for a while in London. AF 86, GK 30, UM 161.

«Chicken Shack» See note on «Con’s Café» ¶ 20: First Amendment] The first amendment to the United States constitution reads: ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. ’     ¶ 21: put up your bright weapons lest the dew rust them] Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them. (Shakespeare: Othello). AF 87, GK 31, UM 162.

«Cable Chimp» See note on «Con’s Café»     ¶ 12: boob-tube] during the 1960s, a derogatory reference to television; boobs = breasts. ¶ 20: vice Chancellor] stet. ¶ 21: forlorn hope] 1530–40; folk-etymological alter. of Dutch verloren hoop lit., lost troop. AF 88, GK 32, UM 163.

«Bachelor Pad» See note on «Con’s Café» AF 89, GK 33.

«Bells Under Water» See note on «Con’s Café»     ¶ Tinseltown] a popular derogatory reference to Sydney, heard mainly in Melbourne.     ¶ Big Smoke] ditto, cf. ‘Auld Reekie’ for Edinburgh. Sydney had trams in the 1930s.     ¶ playing footsie] secretly touching another person’s feet with your own under the table; AF 90, GK 34: playing tootsie. AF 90, GK 34, UM 164.

«April Surprise» See note on «Con’s Café» AF 91, GK 35.

«Adler, Honda & Co» See note on «Con’s Café» Title] ‘Adler’ is German for ‘eagle’ and also the brand name of a typewriter, and ‘Honda’ is Japanese for ‘eagle’ and also the brand name of a motor-cycle. (Quaintly, a Korean motor cycle c. 2010, broadly imitative of the Harley-Davidson marque, is the the Hyosung Aquila GV650. ‘Aquila’ is Italian for ‘eagle’.) The double-headed eagle is a common symbol in heraldry and vexillology, most commonly associated with the Holy Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, Imperial Russia, and Austria from 1934 to 1938. AF 92, GK 36.

«Quaker Clambake» See note on «Con’s Café» AF 93, GK 37.

«Aurora» See note on «Con’s Café»     ¶ 21: hoon] Australian slang: hooligan, hoodlum, a show-off who drives a vehicle in a noisy fashion with little regard for others. AF 94, GK 38, UM 165.

Gasoline Kisses, 1997
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«The Duck Abandons Hollywood» See note on «Con’s Café» ¶ Title] a deliberate echo of Cavafy’s «The God Abandons Antony».     ¶ the theme is borrowed from a poem by John Ashbery (who said he wouldn’t mind), «Daffy Duck in Hollywood».     ¶ More daffiness: the basic structure of the poem is modelled on Wordsworth’s «Daffodils», with most of Wordsworth’s imagery replaced by near-synonyms. ‘A poet could not but be gay’, for example, becomes ‘a troubadour could not but be / bisexual’. GK 15, UM 166.

«Cambridge Couples» See note on «Con’s Café». GK 22.

Different Hands, 1988
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«Neuromancing Miss Stein» The seven prose pieces in Different Hands began with an analysis of the frequency and distribution of letter-groups in two pieces of writing, using the Brekdown computer program. The analysis was concerned only with the characters of the alphabet and a dozen punctuation characters, and not with grammar, syntax or meaning. Then came the computer-assisted construction of a new text based on an amalgamation of the data and index tables of these two letter-group analyses. This first draft was then extensively reworked over many months. Most of the words in the pieces printed here are my own.     ¶ This piece began with Gertrude Stein, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, and William Gibson, Neuromancer. DH 9, UM 167.

«The Howling Twins» This piece began with Allen Ginsberg’s 1956 poem «Howl», and the first fifteen pages of The Bobbsey Twins on a Bicycle Trip by ‘Laura Lee Hope’, a pen-name of the indefatigable Edward Stratemeyer. DH 17, UM 173.

«Carousel» Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer and Yasunari Kawabata’s The Master of Go. DH 26.

«Magic Women» Louisa M. Alcott, Little Women, and Carlos Castaneda, Tales of Power. I should like to thank the New Literatures Research Centre at the University of Wollongong for their generous assistance with this project. DH 39.

«Lonely Chaps» Radclyffe Hall, The Well of Loneliness, and Captain WE Johns, Biggles Defies the Swastika. DH 47.

«Room with a View, Spa Bath, Many Extras» EM Forster, A Room With a View, and advertisements for houses for sale in Sydney’s eastern suburbs during June and July, 1994. DH 55.

«Valéry’s Room» Edmund Wilson’s essay on Paul Valéry in Axel’s Castle, and Charles Sale, The Specialist, a humorous booklet about a handyman who builds outdoor lavatories. DH 71.

Blackout, 2000
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«Blackout» consists of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the article ‘Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream’ by Joan Didion, and a chapter from ‘The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test’ by Tom Wolfe, with most of the words removed, and the remaining words and phrases interleaved, though in the same order as they appear in the original texts. No other words have been added. B, UM 180 (Part 1 only).

Uncollected Poems
John Tranter and his dog Tiger, photo Susan Gordon-Brown.

John Tranter and his dog Tiger, photo Susan Gordon-Brown.

«Lives of the Poets» Meanjin, Vol 35 No 3, September 1976

«Small Animal Poem» Overland, No 74, 1979

«The Contradictions» Constructed from sentences taken more or less at random from books; by Somerset Maugham, Carlos Castenada, and others. Island in the Sun (anthology). Sydney: Ken Bolton and Anna Couani, Eds. November 1980.

«The White Hole Paradox» Chuang Tzu’s logic lepidoptery] Chuang Tzu (or Chuang Chou) (365?–290? BC) was a Chinese philosopher noted for the following paradox. After having awoken from a sleep in which he dreamed he was a butterfly, he wondered whether he was a man who had dreamed he was a butterfly, of a butterfly who was now dreaming that he was a man.     ¶ psychopannychy] the sleeping state of the soul after death and before resurrection.     ¶ wayzgoose] printing houses’ annual festivity.     ¶ stumble on a phrase] The phrase, or rather passage, is from Proust’s Swann’s Way (Part One) and goes as follows: ‘Unfortunately I was not able to set at rest, by further talks with Bloch, in which I might have insisted upon an explanation, the doubts he had engendered in me when he told me that fine lines of poetry (from which I, if you please, expected nothing less than the revelation of truth itself) were all the finer if they meant absolutely nothing. ’ New Poetry, May 1980.

«After Reading ‘Four Quartets’» Southerly, No 4, 1981. p. 430. Well, what does happen to people after reading «Four Quartets»? In 1981 I came across a poem in an issue of Southerly magazine titled «After Reading “Four Quartets», and was exasperated to find that it was exactly what I expected it to be ― respectful, literary, drenched with the kind of values one is supposed to absorb from ‘great poems’. So I re-read Eliot’s «Four Quartets», and then wrote this poem: more true to actual life, and less true to earnest literary expectations. Decades later I wrote «Five Quartets», which is «Four Quartets» with most of the words removed.

«Red Cruise» Nembutal] A tradename for Pentobarbital, a powerful short-acting barbiturate that was first synthesized in 1928 and used widely as a sleeping tablet.combined with alcohol, it caused many accidental deaths, and was finally made illegal in most countries. P-76 number 4, page 37. (Date 1982?)

«Channel Nothing» During the mid-1980s I worked for some years on an off part-time as a subeditor of subtitles at the Special Broadcasting Service, which from February 1985 broadcast television programs in dozens of different languages from around the world, subtitled into Australian English. Initially the television channels used by SBS in Sydney were VHF Channel 0 and UHF Channel 28, which had poor reception. In those days there was no advertising on the station; this cancer was introduced in 1991 during the reign of Executive Director Brian Johns, a Labor appointee. The Weekend Australian Magazine 16–17 February 1985, p. 11

«The Winds» Written in the style — at least I intended as much — of US poet August Kleinzahler.     ¶ (from the Arabic)] A lie.     ¶ Khamsin] Arabic, from Khamsun, fiftieth; a hot south wind blowing over Egypt from the Sahara region for about fifty days in the spring from about late March till early May.     ¶ Simoon] Arabic semmum, from samm, Arabic for poison; a hot suffocating sand-laden wind of the deserts of Arabia, etc.     ¶ rosy-fingered] Homer’s epithet for the dawn goddess, rhododactylos eos.     ¶ Sirocco] Italian, from Arabic sharg, the east; in this case from the direction of the desert. East is related to Easter, from Old English eastre, originally the name of a goddess, and is related to the Latin Aurora, dawn, and the Greek eos.     ¶ Föhn] German, from Romansch favugn, from Latin Favonius; a warm dry wind blowing down into the valleys of a mountain, especially in the Alps.     ¶ Bora] bora, Italian, from Latin Boreas, the north wind; a cold dry northeast wind that blows along the Adriatic coasts.     ¶ Mistral] French, from Provençal mistral, literally ‘master wind’, from Maestre, master; a cold dry north wind that blows over the Mediterranean coast of France and nearby regions. Sydney Morning Herald, 2 February, 1985

«Lagonda» Title] Lagonda is a British car manufacturer, founded in 1906 and purchased by Aston Martin in 1947. The cars were stylish and fast.     ¶ Mille Miglia] A thousand-mile (more or less) open-road endurance race which took place in Italy twenty-four times from 1927 to 1957 (thirteen before the war, eleven from 1947). (Wikipedia). Helix, 1985. Agenda (UK), p. 135.

«Sails» Commissioned by journalist Margaret Jones for the front page of the Australia Day 1987 edition of The Sydney Morning Herald. The fee was  100. The poem had to feature Sydney Harbour and be reasonably positive. My first attempt to write this poem resulted in «Australia Day» (page ??), a sour tale featuring murder and corruption, based on a mixture of gossip, suspicion and fact. The Sydney Morning Herald Monday, 26 January, 1987 Page: 1 Section: Front page.

«Two-Lane Blacktop» Monaro] Pronounced mon-AIR-roh by the people who live there, and mon-AH-roh by others, the southern highlands district of New South Wales. I was born there in the town of Cooma. Meanjin vol 47 no 4 Summer 1988, p. 593

«Accident» The Australian Magazine 28–29 October 1989, p. 7

«An Absolutely Extraordinary Recital» A version of Les Murray’s poem «An Absolutely Ordinary Rainbow», 1969.     ¶ Repins] A coffee-shop in Sydney. The various locations in this poem are venues notable in 1950s Sydney.     ¶ Mark O’Connor] a slightly less distinguished poet than his friend Les Murray. Date of composition: circa August 1989. Appears in: Tranter, John. ‘Distant Voices. ’ DCA Thesis. University of Wollongong, 2009. Print.

«Belladonna» Set in San Francisco. Date of composition: before 22 August, 1990. Unpublished.

«Homeland» Homeland. George Papaellenis, Ed. North Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1991, p. 33.

«A Photograph of Michael Dransfield’s Flat, 1992» Patrick] poet Patrick Alexander, 1940–2005. Unpublished? Date 1992?

«Glitter» burn out] In a poem titled «Rimbaud» in 1973 (Southerly magazine, vol 33 no 2 June 1973), poet and academic Robert Brissenden likened Rimbaud to a super-nova, and continued, addressing the dead poet apostrophically in the second person, and telling him things he really did not need to know: ‘you rocketed into / the black romantic sky, flared out and fell. ’ The poem was later published in the annual Angus & Robertson anthology Australian Poetry 1973 with two other poems in a group titled ‘Three Poems for Michael Dransfield’, who had died earlier that year on 20 April. ¶ 7: niece] nephew, in The Australian Weekend Review 26 June 1993, Books page 6.

«Capital Flow» Tod and Tab and Chet and Chad and Chauncey] Though standard English, these first names are distinctively US American. Hermes 17, 1995, SM 89

«Double Six: Six Photographs and Six Prose Pieces» Republica, George Papaellenis, Ed. Sydney: HarperCollins, January 1995

«On the Other Hand» part of «Double Six… »

«On The Wallaby» part of «Double Six… »

«Phantoms» part of «Double Six… »

«Tess (& John)» part of «Double Six… »

«To Absent Friends» part of «Double Six… »

«Unruly» part of «Double Six… »

Uncollected Light Verse
John Tranter, aged three

John Tranter, aged three

«This is not the Title of the Poem» Published in The Ear in a Wheatfield No 10, (date 1975?) republished in The Best of the Ear: The Ear in a Wheatfield 1973–1976, Rigmarole Book Publishers (Robert Kenny), Clifton Hill VIC Australia 1985, ISBN 0909229295, in a group of four poems: «This is not the Title of the Poem», «The Definition of Poetry», «The Disadvantage of the Diesel Engine», «The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich»

«The Premier’s Prize» And who was the Poet Laureate?] No, it wasn’t Alfred Austin, or John Masefield, or Cecil Day-Lewis, or Sir John Betjeman. Unpublished. Date 1983?

«A Big Country» The Australian, 24–25 August, 1985. A response to a television appearance by the Canberra poet Mark O’Connor.

«At the Macrobiotic Cafeteria» Phoenix Review, No 3, page 82, 1986.

«An Australian Sends a Postcard Home» Phoenix Review, No 3, p. 33. Date 1985?

«The Epigrammarian» Phoenix Review, No 3, page 35. Date 1985?

«Yeats at Bondi» See Yeats, «Byzantium»: ‘That dolphin-torn, that gong-tormented sea.’ Sydney Morning Herald, date? A Salt Reader. Folio/ Fremantle Arts Centre Press: Applecross W.A., 1995, p. 277.

«Hawaiian Haiku» Written after a visit to Hawai’i in April and May 1985. Sydney Morning Herald, date? A Salt Reader. Folio: Applecross W.A., 1995, p. 277.

«Heart» Sydney Morning Herald, 1986.

«Niche: Armidale, 1985» Notes and Furphies (journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature). Date 1986?

«The Stabiliser» P-76, No 4. Date 1986? A found poem from an article by Fred Picker, on stabilised photographic enlarger light sources, in Darkroom Techniques Vol 5, No 2, p. 24

«Tropical Poem» The Australian. 6-7 December 1986.

«Posterity» Sydney Morning Herald, 1986.

«Expo 88» Title] World Expo 88, also known as Expo ’88, was a World’s Fair held in Brisbane, the state capital of Queensland, Australia, during a six-month period between April and October 1988. The theme of the Expo was ‘Leisure in the Age of Technology’, and the mascot for the Expo was an Australian platypus named Expo Oz.commissioned by the Australian Way travel magazine, 1988.

«The Wu-Wei Variations» A variation on a well-known aphorism about the Taoist principle of ‘wu wei’ (‘doing nothing’): ‘Sitting quietly, doing nothing. Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself. ’ Unpublished. Date 1989?

«Miranda» Unpublished. Date between 1985 and early 1987.

«William Blake» The triumph of free verse since 1900 has allowed poets to avoid the briar-patch of tortured syntax that strict rhyme and short lines often led earlier writers to stumble into. Poetry readers now demand a fluency of speech — easy in free verse, difficult within a strict rhyme scheme — that earlier writers such as Blake could plausibly shirk. Hermes? Date 1990s?

«Whiskey» Unpublished. Date 1992?

«On the Nose» Higami, hogami] A response to Les Murray’s poem «The Beneficiaries». With its opening line ‘Higamus hogamus’, Murray’s poem announces itself as a Double Dactyl, the light but precise form invented by P. Pascal and Anthony Hecht in the early 1950s; in the 1960s Hecht and John Hollander published the first collection. The form is supposed to go like this: ‘[… ] light verse in two quatrains. The last lines of the first and second quatrains must rhyme and must comprise four syllables, a dactylic foot followed by a stress. The other six lines are all hexasyllables of two dactylic feet, hence the name. The first line of the poem must be a nonsense phrase, usually “Higgledy piggledy”; the second line must be a proper name; and the second line of the second quatrain must be a polysyllable, often scientific or technical, and the more recondite the better. ’ (The Princeton Encyclopaedia of Poetry. ) Murray’s poem uses the tragic deaths of six million Jews, Communists, left-wing activists, homosexuals, mentally handicapped people and gypsies in the Nazi concentration camps as fodder for his attack on ‘Western intellectuals’, of which he is surely one. According to Murray, these ‘Western intellectuals’ ‘never praise Auschwitz. / Most ungenerous. Most odd, / when they claim it’s what finally / won them their centuries- / long war against God.’ The moral coarseness of this sneer is matched by the crudeness of Murray’s technique: no double dactyls apart from the borrowed first line, and blundering metre throughout; only one stanza, not two quatrains; only seven lines, not eight; and, shamefully, no polysyllablic word as the second line of the second quatrain. I managed to knock up this simple Double Dactyl in the shower one morning. It’s missing the proper name in line two, for obvious reasons, otherwise it fits. Fifteen minutes: it’s not that hard. One wonders what is at the root of Murray’s prosodic déshabillé here: contempt for his audience, contempt for his art, simple laziness, technical incompetence, or some other cause: hard to say. Unpublished. 24 October 1997.

Selected Poems, 1982

«The Popular Mysteries» SP 176, LNR 86. This poem was also placed last in SP.

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