Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Around the hermitage are many wallabies. The two in this picture were disturbed from their breakfast as I walked past, and soon decided that I was too much of a threat and jumped off into the bush.

I know these are not the full size kangaroo but looking at them feeding here in the dawn and dusk has driven me to search out a half-remembered poem from school days, "Kangaroo" by D.H. Lawrence, written I think during his spell in Australia in 1923. I found the text in a fascinating online resource Poets' Graves, devoted as it says mainly to information on the location of famous poets' graves (mostly U.K.) Just the thing if you want to make a literary tour with a difference.


by D.H. Lawrence

In the northern hemisphere
Life seems to leap at the air, or skim under the wind
Like stags on rocky ground, or pawing horses, or springy scut-tailed rabbits.
Or else rush horizontal to charge at the sky’s horizon,
Like bulls or bisons or wild pigs.
Or slip like water slippery towards its ends,
As foxes, stoats, and wolves, and prairie dogs.
Only mice, and moles, and rats, and badgers, and beavers, and perhaps bears
Seem belly-plumbed to the earth’s mid-navel.
Or frogs that when they leap come flop, and flop to the centre of the earth.
But the yellow antipodal Kangaroo, when she sits up
Who can unseat her, like a liquid drop that is heavy, and just touches earth.
The downward drip.
The down-urge.
So much denser than cold-blooded frogs.
Delicate mother Kangaroo
Sitting up there rabbit-wise, but huge, plumb-weighted,
And lifting her beautiful slender face, oh! so much more gently and finely-lined than a rabbit’s, or than a hare’s,
Lifting her face to nibble at a round white peppermint drop, which she loves, sensitive mother Kangaroo.
Her sensitive, long, pure-bred face.
Her full antipodal eyes, so dark,
So big and quiet and remote, having watched so many empty dawns in silent Australia.
Her little loose hands, and drooping Victorian shoulders.
And then her great weight below the waist, her vast pale belly
With a thin young yellow little paw hanging out, and straggle of a long thin ear, like ribbon,
Like a funny trimming to the middle of her belly, thin little dangle of an immature paw, and one thin ear.
Her belly, her big haunches
And in addition, the great muscular python-stretch of her tail.
There, she shan’t have any more peppermint drops.
So she wistfully, sensitively sniffs the air, and then turns, goes off in slow sad leaps
On the long flat skis of her legs,
Steered and propelled by that steel-strong snake of a tail.
Stops again, half turns, inquisitive to look back.
While something stirs quickly in her belly, and a lean little face comes out, as from a window,
Peaked and a bit dismayed,
Only to disappear again quickly away from the sight of the world, to snuggle down in the warmth,
Leaving the trail of a different paw hanging out.
Still she watches with eternal, cocked wistfulness !
How full her eyes are, like the full, fathomless, shining eyes of an Australian black-boy
Who has been lost so many centuries on the margins of existence !
She watches with insatiable wistfulness.
Untold centuries of watching for something to come,
For a new signal from life, in that silent lost land of the South.
Where nothing bites but insects and snakes and the sun, small life.
Where no bull roared, no cow ever lowed, no stag cried, no leopard screeched, no lion coughed, no dog barked,
But all was silent save for parrots occasionally, in the haunted blue bush.
Wistfully watching, with wonderful liquid eyes.
And all her weight, all her blood, dripping sack-wise down towards the earth’s centre,
And the live little one taking in its paw at the door of her belly.
Leap then, and come down on the line that draws to the earth’s deep, heavy centre.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Here at the Hermitage after a sudden change in wind, dark clouds, and a thunder storm, we had a little rain last night. It's not enough to fill the tanks or the dams and hardly enough to revive the brown dry vegetation. But it feels and smells refreshing. Australia has extremes of weather. Rationally no one would chose here just on the basis of the climate. But the land has a beauty and intensity which is the result of the harsh environment.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Flying Friar

Since January 21st I've been travelling. My hopes of regular blogging have vanished. It would be easy to write a travelogue but that sounds a bit dull.

Just a summary of my travels is that I was first in New Zealand where I visited family and community and old friends in Wellington, Nelson, Auckland and Hamilton.

With my sister, Jane, and nieces, Bridie and Maddie.

One of the fun meetings was with some of my old secondary school friends. We were all in the 7th Form at Nayland College, Nelson, in 1974. And as we assured each other, "You don't look a bit older!" As the day (and the wine) flew so did our memories.

Here we are: Christine, Ursula, Linda and me.

Since then I've been settled in Australia at the Hermitage in Stroud, N.S.W. I'll be here for a few months doing the sort of things one does in hermitages. Praying, eating, sleeping, welcoming guests, doing housework.

This is a beautiful place in the bush with mud brick buildings and a very peaceful atmosphere. I first came here in 1986 and have always found it has an atmosphere of prayer.

Perhaps I'll be inspired to write more frequently!