Wright, Judith: Nostalgic Woman Poet
Judith Wright was an Australian woman poet who passed away in 2000, at the age of 85. A passionate environmentalist, her campaign to save The Great Barrier Reef, her support of the Aborigines and similar causes informed her work. Here’s one of her poems –
Request to a Year
If the year is meditating a suitable gift,
I should like it to be the attitude
of my great- great- grandmother,
legendary devotee of the arts,
who having eight children
and little opportunity for painting pictures,
sat one day on a high rock
beside a river in Switzerland
and from a difficult distance viewed
her second son, balanced on a small ice flow,
drift down the current toward a waterfall
that struck rock bottom eighty feet below,
while her second daughter, impeded,
no doubt, by the petticoats of the day,
stretched out a last-hope alpenstock
(which luckily later caught him on his way).
Nothing, it was evident, could be done;
And with the artist’s isolating eye
My great-great-grandmother hastily sketched the scene.
The sketch survives to prove the story by.
Year, if you have no Mother’s day present planned,
Reach back and bring me the firmness of her hand.
This astonishing story seems even more astounding given the matter-of-fact style in which Wright presents it. Here’s another poem of hers –
The Old Prison by Judith Wright
The rows of cells are unroofed,
a flute for the wind’s mouth,
who comes with a breath of ice
from the blue caves of the south.
O dark and fierce day:
the wind like an angry bee
hunts for the black honey
in the pits of the hollow sea.
Waves of shadow wash
the empty shell bone-bare,
and like a bone it sings
a bitter song of air.
Who built and laboured here?
The wind and the sea say
-Their cold nest is broken
and they are blown away-
They did not breed nor love,
each in his cell alone
cried as the wind now cries
through this flute of stone.
I like the imagery here, of the personification of the wind as a flutist.
This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z Challenge 2023.