When I was a kid, I loved bush poetry. Loved its rhythms, its stories and its immediacy. As an adult I’ve attended a number of bush poets’ breakfasts at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, and been entertained by some fabulous exponents of the art. Bush poetry makes you cry as often as you laugh, and stirs my soul in ways that no other poetry style does. Some might call me old fashioned, but I love it.
I’m glad to know that bush poetry is still such a part of Australian culture today. You can find some of the modern poets here at the Australian Bush Poets Association, or have a look at Banjo Paterson’s verse written many years ago. He wrote many poems and ballads, with probably the most well known being The Man From Snowy River, and you can read 162 of his works on the same website.
Today I sat down and penned a few verses myself. They’re not great, but they remind me of my sixteen years in the Pilbara, a place that is etched forever in my memory in a montage of smells, sounds and colours.
I saw the storm clouds forming,
Tattered horsetails streaming wide
And the burnished blue sky vanished
As the winds began to ride.
The spinifex and mulga,
Spun the scent of rain to drum,
And the thirsty red dust flurried
As I saw the lightning come.
Across the rusty ranges,
The thunder cracked and raged,
While the grass fires born of lightning,
Burnt the bones of stockyards aged.
The hilltops glowed with fire
And the smoke spun ghosted streams,
While it spoke of times eternal,
When men pondered time swept dreams.
And then the rain came falling,
Heavy curtains streaming fast,
And the ruby red of embers,
Became memories of the past.
Then the thunder growled in memory,
And the blackened stockyards bowed,
A testament to struggle,
While refreshed the rivers flowed.