I saw the beauty go – Mary Gilmore – Analysis

I saw the beauty go

I saw the beauty go,
The beauty that, in a stream,
Flowed through the breadth of the land
Like the fenceless foot of a dream.

There went the kangaroos, that, in hosts,
For their bedding-down grouped at even,
Only the sound of the nibbling lips
Making the sunset steven.

Then as they stilled, and the moon
With her white cloths mantled the trees,
From the shadows beneath the mopoke called,
And the curlew made her pleas.

I saw the beauty go,
The beauty that could not be tamed;
But before it went it looked at me
With the eyes of the maimed.

Dame Mary Gilmore (1865 – 1962)

There are four stanzas each a sentence with the second and fourth line rhyming.

We tend to think of environmental concern as something new. In this poem Mary Gilmore clearly demonstrates her concern for the changing face of nature at a time when Australia was very much being tamed. It appears to me to be her concern for the killing of kangaroos.

S1 … Beauty disappearing ‘like the fenceless foot of a dream’– the land was being fenced for rural development and the kangaroo a pest.

S2 … steven = enhancing
The beautiful picture of kangaroos at sunset totally at peace with nature.

S3 … mopoke = spotted brown owl, curlew = wading bird with a hooked beak
As they stilled the curlew made her pleas … a warning of imminent danger … MG does not declare what might be about to happen leaving it to the reader to fill in the tradegy.

S4 … If ever you experience the accidental road death of a kangaroo, or for whatever reason, that maimed look from their brown eyes is heart wrenching … ‘with the eyes of the maimed’. Something very beautiful is dead.

It would have been unusual in her time to be supportive of the lives of kangaroos.

Mary Gilmore had strong political views and was a voice beyond her time.

Mary Gilmore on Wikipedia … https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Gilmore

Would I might find my country – Roland Robinson – Comments

Would I might find my country

Would I might find my country as the blacks
come in and lean their spears up in the scrub,
and crouch and light their flickering fires and spread
their mission blankets on the ground beneath
the dark acacia and bauhinia trees.

Would I might find my people as the blacks
sit with their lubras, children, and tired dogs,
their dilly-bags, their bundles of belongings
tied up in scraps of some old coloured dress,
and pass the long straight smoking pipe around,
and talk in quiet calling voices while
the blood deep crimson flower of sunset burns
to smouldering ash and fume behind the trees,
behind the thin grassed ridges of their land.

Roland Robinson (1912 – 1992)

Lubras – A female Aboriginal Australian (now an offensive term, just as the use of ‘blacks’)
Dilly-bags – is a traditional Australian Aboriginal bag, generally woven from the fibres of plant species of the Pandanus genus.

Roland Robinson was born in Ireland and came to Australia when nine years old. He had many different jobs including a roustabout and boundary rider, railway fettler, cleaner, horse trainer, fencer, and factory worker. He was a conscientious objector in WW2 and was sent to work on the railways in the Northern Territory. It was here that he spent many years working and endorsing the Aborigine life style. And likewise he was highly appreciative of the Australian landscape. He was the first white poet to listen to, and collect, the anecdotes and oral traditions of the Aborigine population.

The poem (a sonnet with a 5/9 split) has nice balance between the start of the evening fire and the closing burn of sunset. It is clearly a statement that the European life style is somewhat wanting compared to that of the Aborigine. Unless one has that heritage it is difficult to comprehend the depth of feeling for the land. Maybe if we had such association we would be far more concerned with environmental issues.

Roland Robinson on Wikipedia

The Road through the Woods – Rudyard Kipling – Analysis

The Road through the Woods

They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.

Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate,
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few.)
You will hear the beat of a horse’s feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods …
But there is no road through the woods.

Rudyard Kipling

Nice balance between the two stanzas and I like the internal rhyme … the first stanza defining the history of the area and the second exploring any on-going effect … a ghostly mystical effect as though the environment retains an imprint of its history and can speak to those sensitive to such communication … one negative – I question the need for the comment about the otter – it detracts.

And this could be regarded as an early environmental poem … an anti-development poem perhaps, and showing the after effect of mans’ intrusion on nature.

S1 … tells the story of change when once there was a road, presumably not bitumen, and now the road has been replaced by both man and nature … and to look at the environment you would never know that once it had been a thorough fare … however, the keeper knows … the person who looks after the area … he knows that the woods has been violated – perhaps ‘violated’ is the wrong word for the road through the woods might have been environmentally friendly … however the anemones are only thin now implying the old road still has a negative effect.

S2 … poses a question can the imprint from the past be heard again … at special times when more sensitive and when the ‘ghosts’ are likely to emerge … in this case the horses may have known the old road which could help their recall to previous times when they travelled through this area, especially if it was on a regular basis … I think animals have a greater sense to where they have been.

The last two lines in S2 says it all … although something has gone it is still alive – for those that have experienced the past … perhaps all experience is retained to some degree … the mind a continuous growing memory bank … and digressing as we age we start to recall events long forgotten … of course inanimate objects speak or show their past in their very own different ways … I like the element of mystery evident in the poem – a good poem should always make people think – don’t you think?

Rudyard Kipling is better known for his books especially ‘The Jungle Book’ here is a link to Wikipedia 

However, his poem ‘If’ – is very well known and was head of a popularity count in the UK in the nineties.

And here is Walter de la mere’s well-known poem ‘The Listners’ with an element of mystery