The Flame Tree – Judith Wright – Comments

Flame Tree

How to live, I said, as the flame tree lives?
– to know what the flame tree knows: to be
prodigal of my life as that wild tree
and wear my passion so.
That lover’s knot of water and earth and sun,
that easy answer to the question baffling reason,
branches out of my heart, this sudden season.
I know what I would know.

How shall I thank you, who teach me how to wait
in quietness for the hour to ask or give:
to take and in taking bestow, in bestowing live:
in the loss of myself, to find?
This is the flame-tree; look how gloriously
That careless blossomer scatters, and more, and more.
What the earth takes of her, it will restore.
These are the thanks of lovers who share one mind.

Judith Wright

This year is the centenary of the birth of Judith Wright.

In Sydney at Circular Quay there are commemorative circular plaques of famous Australian literary people embedded in the walkway to the Opera House. Below is Judith Wright’s – it needs updating as Judith died in 2000. The words featured are in relation to her work as an activist in establishing aboriginal rights.


… and here is a link to the sculpture of Judith Wright in Garema Place Canberra where the ‘Flame Tree’ poem is featured. It was taken at the official opening of ‘Poets Corner’ on 30 January 2012 –

The above poem is typical JW personification with nature. Here she advocates throwing everything into life. Follow your heart and be prodigal (reckless) compared to a more controlled approach. I know the flame-tree is very profuse in its flowering. Perhaps ‘we’worry too much about our own flowering without just letting it just happen. If we give in abundance perhaps that which is taken will be given back in greater measure – you will have to be the judge of that of course. JW says ‘I know what I would know’ – expressing confidence that this prodigal approach would promote knowledge.

A link to the Illawarra Flame Tree …

Judith Wright on Wikipedia –

Your word in my ear ...

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