Almanac Poetry Reflection: A Poem with Personal Significance (Discuss)

 

 

When I was doing postgrad studies at Melbourne Uni about three decades ago, the English Department – my area – had prints on the walls of their hallways (Fifth Floor, John Medley Building) with well-known poems on them. Gerard Manley Hopkins’ ‘Hurrahing in Harvest’ was one of those poems. Out of all the poems featured on the walls, it has stuck in my mind most firmly – not only because I love the title and the richness of language of the poem itself but also because one of my father’s seasonal jobs as a young man was harvesting grass hay in rural areas surrounding Geelong, like Ceres, Moriac and Modewarre. His close attachment to this countryside lasts to this day – he’s now in his early eighties. I find it interesting that, if it wasn’t for him, my relationship to this poem would definitely be different, and not as strong.

 

My discussion question for Almanackers, then, is: do you have a poem like ‘Hurrahing in Harvest’, one with particular resonance because of personal associations?

 

 

Hurrahing in Harvest

 

SUMMER ends now; now, barbarous in beauty, the stooks arise
Around; up above, what wind-walks! what lovely behaviour
Of silk-sack clouds! has wilder, wilful-wavier
Meal-drift moulded ever and melted across skies?

 

I walk, I lift up, I lift up heart, eyes,
Down all that glory in the heavens to glean our Saviour;
And, éyes, heárt, what looks, what lips yet gave you a
Rapturous love’s greeting of realer, of rounder replies?

 

And the azurous hung hills are his world-wielding shoulder
Majestic—as a stallion stalwart, very-violet-sweet!—
These things, these things were here and but the beholder
Wanting; which two when they once meet,
The heart rears wings bold and bolder
And hurls for him, O half hurls earth for him off under his feet.

 

Gerard Manley Hopkins

 

 

 

View of Geelong, by Eugene Von Guerard, oil on canvas, 1856 – seen from Ceres, in the nearby Barrabool Hills. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

 

 

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About

Kevin Densley is a poet and writer-in-general. His work has appeared in print in Australia, the UK and the USA, as well as on many online venues. His fourth book-length poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, will be published by Ginninderra Press later in 2020. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press.

Comments

  1. Hi Kevin,

    It being the season that is – or at least the season that it should really be if our world wasn’t dislodged from its hinges, – this poem by the late, great Philip Hodgins would be resonating joyfully for many of us.

    COUNTRY FOOTBALL

    The ellipse, Hindu symbol of fertility, is flanked by crowded cars
    nosing up to the rails.
    It suckles like a sow.

    Inside the cars voices report
    from significant, never been there places —
    Kardinia, Moorabbin, Windy Hill.

    Reflecting each other from the cusps
    rise two-dimensional white cathedrals. Today they will be temples to apostasy twice.
    Their entrances are guarded by clones
    whose torches blaze pure white.

    From corrugated iron purgatory
    many men feed out in lines like parachutists,
    limbs varnished with an intoxicating wake
    of eucalyptus oil.

    Landing near afflatus
    they disperse into pairs
    of cryptic numerical combinations.

    But one without a number,
    as resolutely white as the cue ball,
    omnipotent in a classical pose,
    holds aloft a red ellipse

    and whistles up
    a terrible trumpeting of car horns
    for this afternoon’s do or die.

  2. Kevin Densley says

    Hi Malcolm. Many thanks for your contribution – I love the Philip Hodgins poem you’ve put forward!

  3. Kevin Densley says

    In fact, Malcolm, your response has reminded me of what a fine poet the late Philip Hodgins was/is. I need to return to reading him.

    Australian poet, editor and critic, Peter Rose (son of Collingwood’s Bob, of course), noted that lovers of Hodgins poetry ranged from “Ron Barassi and Peter Porter to Les Murray (the poet one)”.

  4. Great poem Malcolm. We published this on the site any years ago and I have just moved that back to the homepage. We also posted Philip Hodgins’ ‘The Drop Kick’ and I’ve just reposted that now: https://www.footyalmanac.com.au/poetry-the-drop-kick/

  5. Philip Hodgins was an outstanding poet – taken too soon.

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