Red Hill 1940

Year: 1951

by Martin Haley   

Daily as down the suburb's slope I walk
To school that claims a teacher's utter soul
For seven timeless hours at a stretch,
I who have lived my best in country places
Look longingly upon the further hills
The hills behind the Gap where Coottha ends.
Yes, beautiful they laze in morning sunlight
A deepest rural blue . . . A wire-fine road,
Two dairy clearings drought-brown with midwinter,
A farm house (a white speck at ten miles' distance) –
These modify the thick-massed trees' dominion,
And in their lofty lonely siege recall
Another way of life and other days
And youth and unclosed possibilities
I am back again
Living a moment in the glad times past,
Melting a moment in the midst of tears;
Only a moment, then perforce recall
Our transience: how even in the country
None realise the happy mean for living.
Life lies not
In cantering quick, crafty ponies bare-back
Along the bush tracks of sun-dappled joy;
Lies not in swimming in deep, crystal creeks.
In city and country alike a boy may dream
And for a few swift careless years enjoy,
But everywhere responsibility comes –
The long upholding of the heavy world –
The wear and tear and tears of sickness, labour,
The painful carrying of the daily cross –
The Way divinely appointed for Redemption.
What calls in the Gap's beauty there, is heaven –
The sheet delight unfixable on earth.
Meantime, having no wings, material or immaterial, I walk
Daily a suburb's slope a little while;
And for the coolness of the creeks in summer,
The quietude of the scrubs, perennial pleasure
Of bird-brisk paddocks, here may I perceive
The variegation of the well-cared gardens.
Here frequent glows the silky oak and frequent
The stubborn wattle man cannot dispossess.
Night shows the miracle of the stars and moon;
The boobooks answer still towards Rosalie.
And, though they lack the grandeur of Flaxton's orchards,
Desired deeply in the past and unachieved,
Two orange trees are lamped with gold-ripe fruit
Attainable in our little home-back-yard
Where every day the kookaburra comes.

                                            Martin Haley