Unabated Spring:
Selected Poems

Ian Mudie
1942


Ian Mudie is a name known today only to students of Australian literature. Mudie has, like much of Australia's cultural history, been suppressed from view. He was, along with others like Rex Ingamells, a founder of the Jindyworobak poetry movement of the 1930's (it argued an intense nativist position), a partisan of the Australian identity in all things and an activist in the nationalist politics which emerged around P.R. Stephensen.The reader will note the Aboriginal word 'Alcheringa' (spirit of the place) used more than once below, the Jindyworobaks maintaining that in the oldest of Continents, with the acceptance of Place, could European culture be localised and then renewed on a higher plane. This is a challenging view. It is fitting that this Archive place some of Mudie's work before an Australian audience. We hope to add to this collection in the future. The Editors, September 2003.


Published here with the permission of the Mudie Family.

 

AUSTRALIAS DAY: 1942

In Memoriam W.J. Miles

IF EVER it were time for the dead to ride

then surely that time is now:

From the Leeuwin’s cliffs to the roar of Sydney-side,

from Wyndham to the Howe

call up your ghosts, Australia, call up your many dead;

your Kelly and your Lalor and the shirted men they led;

call up your brave, your Stuart, your Wentworth, your

Benelong,

your men who dared Hashemy with its bitter slavish wrong.

Call up your quietened singers from the silence of the grave,

who sang your latent spirit to the complaining wave.

Call up your myths and your legends, your men of song and tale,

men from the Snowy, the Centre, and lakes where Bunyips wail,

your seekers, your finders, your fighters, your men who with

Clancy ride,

Lawson’s men from the western creeks, and a thousand more

beside.

Call up your ghosts, Australia, and set them riding far

to rouse a sleeping nation to its seven-pointed star.

Call up your dead, Australians, and bid them ride with you

to set your rivers brimming with Eureka’s flood anew.

Call up your hosts, Australia, to strive with you amain,

to fight, to sting, to honor, your Flag of Stars again.

Then, when the day is over, whether to shout or to weep,

keep ever your dead alive in you, oh, never let them sleep,

for the nation that forgets its dead, that lets its heroes lie

dust-deep in its mind forever is surely ripe to die.

And only those go on, in glory their story to make,

who ever keep their dead alive, and their songs and heroes awake

Now is the time for the nation’s urgent dead to ride,

so set them riding here and now –

from the Leeuwin’s cliffs to the roar of Sydney-side,

from Wyndham to the Howe.

 

GLORY OF THE SUN

THESE are my people, these are the nationless

caught between blackness and the undreamt dawn;

these are my people, their stars unseen

bright-burning in unfound Alcheringa.

Yet these my people fight and ride

from the nearest shore to the furthest tide.

These are my people, their souls possessed

by myths that slaver from Europa’s bull

while Europe rides her lover-beast through mire

of all her thousand years of infamy.

Yet – these my people – their wild vitality

ploughed upwards in one page of history.

These are my people, who unknowing starve

for all that strength with which their country’s breasts

stretch taut and full; dry tongues and parching lips

thirst for the milk of loveliness which she

holds for their mouths that scorn to touch her flesh.

Yet these my people when they wander far

dream of the wattle and the waratah.

These are my people, each one idly drifts

on his own creek or his own billabong

heading nowhere; the Murray’s single flow

points no swift moral for meandering hearts

nor marches its strong vigor through their verse.

Yet these my people, unity their dream,

once flowed one instant in a single stream.

These are my people, who let vision slip

back to the stubble-land of last year’s crop;

glory they let slip for gold, wisdom for ease

and self-reliance for dull luxury’s pursuit;

making this land vassal, they proclaimed

culture subservient to alien trade.

Yet these my people have produced such sons

as history shall remember while it runs.

These are my people, only by the earth

that seeks to suckle them shall attain

to nationhood, only by living dreams

built of the air they breathe shall they escape

the trap between the blackness and the dawn;

only by following their seven stars

Shall these my people reach Alcheringas.

These are my people, these the nationless

caught between blackness and the undreamt dawn;

these are my people, their stars unseen

bright-burning in unfound Alcheringa.

These are my people, how many years shall run

before they drink the glory of the sun?

 

MENTAL EXPATRIATES

IN their looking backward is a twisted vista;

light bends for them, perspective takes a kink

and swings to the Europe-world.

For them the English trees have grown, and choked

with barrier the avenue of gums.

Colour-blind, or like the cave-blind fish

that lives so long in dark it cannot see in sun,

they stare to the dark cave of the northern skies

and will not see the colours of our scene.

For them there are no ghosts in this our land,

only the weary migrant few that rode

in English minds to the Australian shore.

For them there is no oldness in this land,

the polished axe made no long roads of trade

from north to south, man did not watch

fire mountains rise and glaciers flow,

rivers give up their waters to the sand,

mountains wear down to plain.

For them there is no oldness in this land –

white flesh, for them, and Europe tales,

wiped out the stories of our earth.

HERE HISTORY LIVES

NO DREAR depressing depth covers our earth;

no depth of history clutters our land.

Here history lives; here crimes and cities

lie not – souring by heritage – in earth.

Here no vast encumbrances of age,

of old and dreary wars, boredoms of princes,

famines, hates, fears, lies, eternal shames,

bear down their weight upon our vital day.

History is here no toothless, peevish fool

In nightcap, piling grave upon grave,

Tombstone on tombstone, above ambition.

Here history lives; here history

- a lusty stripling soon to his prime –

races beside us, hurrying us along

with crowded memories of a changing speed

from spear to plane in what was built a day’s

long, fog-grey, depression in those lands

where history died before Australian shores

dawned in men’s visions. Here history lives;

history is ours to make. – Shall we import

some imitative past to bury all our dreams

in history’s grave, or shall we write

upon the page that waits for dawning tale

of nationhood, of unity, of looking

forward to the day when we shall be

the living sword of stars that some now dream.

 

THIS IS AUSTRALIA

THIS is Australia, this is the wide continent

that holds the gate of the world for men and warmth

against icy immensities of emptiness

- cold light and great darkness – of the southern seas.

This is Australia, this is the new-old land

where conflict breeds, where even now (as always

since de Quiros gilded its image in men’s thoughts)

man has his choice to make between the high

banner-flame of allegiance to his land

and the shop-sign of rabbit-burrowing blindness

that gnaws at roots, and, plague-like, kills

all that will never fill his purse nor stretch his bellyskin.

This is Australia, this is each one’s earth

that is Australian, this soil is sacred

now and forever for each one for whom

the vision of this land resurgent ever stirs

in every landscape, for each one that sees

in every town and township, every house

and paddock, every street and track

each patch of untouched bush, each wasted acre

that the greed of sheep or wheat or axe

has furrowed and scarred and swept

and ploughed to barrenness, for each that sees

as his own body and as mighty all this land.

This is Australia, not even the close slums

which greed, transplanting with itself – and them –

from colder earths the huddling timid minds

of driven sheep, has set like cankerous disease

close to each city’s heart, can stint or limit

the wide magnificence of this land’s vision,

that men – slum-minded all, in city or in vastness –

seek in their living death of mind to cramp and set

in pocket-handkerchief-size dreams of northern lands,

each one afraid, knowing himself too small

to see as one, forever unified and great,

this mighty land that seeks its dedicated sons.

This is Australian, each tree and bush, each hill,

each mountain, each vast plain where dust-storms

ride the ancient beds of ancient seas,

each headland set to face the surf,

each creek, long dry, that thunders when the rains

break their all-feeding benediction on the earth,

each rock that carving bears or tribal myth explains,

each billabong the heron’s grey reflection shows,

each jungle-patch along the north-east shores,

each valley and each gully where the euro runs,

each foot of earth, each stick, each grain of dust,

makes, and is ever part of, each Australian.

This is Australia, this is the land

whose sons and daughters are forever blind

and deaf to all its mystery; this is the land

barren of lovers; this is the land defiled

by those who flesh is quarried from its earth;

this is the land whose sons and daughters turn

their faces form it, holding always

vain dreams in their small minds of their own greatness

greater then it; this is the land whose children

fear it, being so small and petty-mean

that never in their hearts is courage great enough

for them to love its beauty and immensity.

This is Australia. This is the land

now raising new spirit of its earth;

this is the land that now a few do love

fiercely and fearlessly; this is the land

than now has found a few to call

its vision from the cupboard of neglect

and set it up for every man to see.

This is the land preparing for those sons

who shall acknowledge their full fellowship

with every fistful of its soil, sons who shall hold

that soil as their own flesh, sons who shall be

fanatic and consecrated in their loyalty.

 

RETURN

THESE many years, dreaming we loved the land,

we have drowsed in sunshine,

watching with sluggish hearts to deep-drugged minds

that which we thought we loved destroyed.

We have loved but self – naught else.

To no swift endurance,

to no long labor of love have we roused;

torpor has drugged our dull colonial minds.

We have lain in ease, dreaming we loved this land,

letting thieves steal

and traitors greedily deface with purse-bound hands

all honor, beauty, glory, that is hers.

What spears we had have lost their keenness;

weapons our minds knew are destroyed;

what light our eyes shone with is dimmed with languor;

Alcheringa is far beyond our knowing.

But we shall arise from our sloth;

the spears shall be reshaped;

all honor, glory, beauty, that is hers

soon shall return to possess us wholly.

TO THIS LAND DEDICATED

THIS is my continent, this is my land,

and yet the living dead that walk its streets

and till its soil are not my people nor this land’s.

Each day they walk and do not see the skies,

each night they sleep, and waking are too dead

ever to dream save when they seek to hear

in dreams some petty profit’s rattling coin.

And yet we could so easily awake and dream,

and feel in every stick and stone and leaf,

in the whole earth and air of this our land,

a nation’s fire smouldering for the need

of wind to set the flames alight and leaping high

to sweep and stir our hearts at bushfire speed

and kindle in our minds firesticks of nationhood.

Once we have seen the sun through eucalypt leaves

with not one thought of oaks or pines behind the mind;

once we have drunk the scents of all the bush

with no book-coloured smell of woodlands in the draught:

once we have felt this land, this land alone,

as our whole world, our wealth, our strength, our life,

then living blood shall course our veins anew.

This land shall then know patriots worthy

of its vast soil; no more shall petty slaves

- each in his puny separate mind intent

on his immediate ends – forever dance

colonial puppet jigs to distant tunes;

no more shall this our people be divided,

half-blind and wholly dead, blind to their destiny.

Then shall each one stand, Australian, mighty

in unity beneath Australian skies,

to this land dedicated, all thought and strength

bent to the building here in nationhood

of new life in this south – new life, indeed,

mighty with national purpose,

strong with Australian need.

THE ROLLING OF THE DRUMS

STAND fierce to your coasts, Australians,

stand fierce to cock-eyed bobs of war,

guard full your flame and your future

as never you have before.

Wake from the pit and the paddock,

wake from the lathe and the shop,

stand one and united forever

past the hour when this war shall stop.

Wake, my fellow Australians,

the fire and the fury comes;

now comes you hour of nationhood,

with the rolling of the drums.

Dec. 1941

CAUSE FOR SONG

THERE’s singing in the hills tonight,

With all the stars ashine;

A lad goes whistling homewards,

"Dear land, dear land of mine."

In his heart new heroes ride;

(Hear Clancy’s footsteps there?);

Sturt’s oars dip in the Murray tide;

Blaxland storms at the Divide;

Through deserts strides the lonely Eyre;

And pioneers are at his side.

He has seen the Southern Cross at last

There’s lit within his eyes tonight

A fire no force shall tame.

He has found his own Alcheringa,

And a cult-path for his feet;

Now he marches to a deeper tune

Than alien drums may beat.

The flood of all our rivers

Is running in his veins;

Bone of his bone is every hill

And soil of all our plains.

Deep is his love and deep his rage –

The scars have marked his flesh.

If need should call his fate to test

He’ll light Eureka fires afresh.

Now every day with spear-keen eyes

This vital earth he’ll view;

His shall be the enterprise

To write new dream-time on our skies,

To rouse within this folk anew

Such loyalty as never dies.

For this land who’s whistling homewards

With the Southern Cross above

Has found within his heart tonight

A continent to love.

 

IF THIS BE TREASON

SO THIS is treason, that a love of land

strengthen and circle in our hearts

through every hour of every day?

So this is treason, that our minds

should stir to none but native breeze,

that we should dream of unity

and our land’s high purpose,

that we should see

a national future

triumphant in our song,

that we should be

willing servants

of Australia’s dream?

If this be treason, then let every tree

fall to the axe, let all brave flowers

wither in traitorous disgrace.

If this be treason, then the very earth

offends against the state,

and every stick and stone

plots order’s overthrow,

assassination breeds

in every waratah, the wattle’s sabotage

broods on each golden hill.

If love of land a dastard treason be,

then black glows the sun and solid is the sea.

 



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