The wattle, waratah, desert pea, and callistemon‘Flower of Choice’ and Other Poetry by David Watt The Society February 7, 2018 Beauty, Culture, Humor, Poetry, Short Stories 16 Comments Flower of Choice On native Australian flowers The wattle bears her gold in early spring As luminescent beads on woody strings, Spreading perfume ‘til the mild air brings Sweetness deep to every living thing. Diverting our attention from the gold, The waratah with fiery head unfolds Above alternate leaves each stem upholds – Serrated in appearance, starkly cold. Sturt’s Desert Pea, not to be outdone, Arises after rain, as swaying thrones From arid kingdom’s desiccated bones; Adorned by colors scarlet, onyx stone. Time passes, fair Callistemon abounds, Attracting birds for nectar, adding sound To buzzing of cicadas come from ground – The stereo of summer full-surrounds! Making choice of native flower supreme Is infinitely harder than it seems, And like those dearest friends my heart esteems; I could not choose between red, gold, or cream! Calling for Sid Author’s Note: Especially around the time of the ‘Great Depression’ in the 1930’s, rabbitohs sold rabbits door to door or at markets in Australia. Many rabbitohs caught their own rabbits. In these difficult times ‘underground mutton’ was a staple part of the diet for many people. A cemetery boundary would not have deterred a ferret, or a rabbitoh seeking fresh rabbits. The name ‘rabbitoh’ derives from the vendor’s cry of “Rabbitoh! Rabbitoh!” Fred was what in olden times they called a rabbitoh, Catching rabbits plentiful to make an honest quid – Aided in the hunting by his ferret known as Sid. And by sheer coincidence, or providence, or such, Sid led Fred to the cemetery one Sunday years ago, Located on a sand hill (where rabbits love to go). Sid disappeared beneath a plot without fuss or ado, But after several hours, came no rabbit, Sid, or much To show apart from gentle snore within that sandy hutch. Fred, in deep frustration, shouted under tombstone head “Sid come up! I know you’re there! Your sleeping days are through! Damn you for eternity when I get hold of you!” Passing by the graveyard after service held for Lent, Came Widow Brown, who even now relates with fear and dread How on that Sunday afternoon, calling for the dead, A voice most surely Satan’s, with words of ill-intent, Summoned souls through rabbit holes, by threat and rude torment. David Watt is a writer from Canberra, the “Bush Capital” of Australia. He has contributed regularly to Collections of Poetry and Prose by Robin Barratt. When not working for IP (Intellectual Property) Australia, he finds time to appreciate the intrinsic beauty of traditional rhyming poetry. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) Related 16 Responses James A. Tweedie February 7, 2018 David, long ago I spent a year in Adelaide, living, working and soaking up everything Australian (including the phrase “she’ll be right” and the South Australian delicacy known as “bung fritz”). One of the things I enjoyed most was the national sense of humor and attitude towards life (i.e. Ned Kelly “Such is life”). Nowhere is this captured more profoundly than in the aptly-named “bush poetry” of A.B. “Banjo” Paterson (“Man from Snowy River” “The Dog’s Mistake” “The Bush Christening”). Your poem, “Calling for Sid” clearly flows from this tradition and I am so glad you wrote it and even more glad that you shared it with us. Paterson and I join in raising a Foster’s in your honor. Reply David Watt February 7, 2018 Thank you so much James for your appreciation of “Calling for Sid” and comparison to the tradition of A.B. : Banjo” Paterson. “Banjo” is my favorite Australian poet due to the humor of “The Bush Christening” and many other memorable pieces of “bush” poetry. Cheers mate and kind regards. Reply David Hollywood February 8, 2018 These are wonderfully refreshing poems in which I love the descriptions, and then the very funny humour. They have completely different senses to them and yet I feel lightened by them both. It is a few minutes since I read Sid and I am still smiling. They also inspire me to find out about Bush poetry. Thank you. Reply James A. Tweedie February 8, 2018 David, If you’re going to dip your toe in the water of bush poetry be sure to include Paterson’s “Mulga Bill’s Bicycle” for a good laugh and “Clancy of the Overflow” which pairs with “The Man from Snowy River” as his two most beloved poems. He also, by the way, wrote the words for “Waltzing Matilda.” The other great bush poet was Henry Lawson who (curiously enough) felt that Paterson overly romanticized the brutal harshness of the outback life. If you are hungry for more, pay a visit to Will Ogilvie, who frames his imagery and sentiments in more classical forms. Reply David Watt February 9, 2018 Thank you James for your valuable insights into Paterson and Lawson. I am familiar with the wonderfully humorous “Mulga Bill’s Bicycle” and many of Paterson’s other classic works. I will definitely visit Will Ogilvie’s work and explore his imagery/style of writing. Thank you for this lead. David Watt February 9, 2018 Thank you David. I am glad you appreciated these poems, both for the humour and descriptions. Bush poetry, such as the descriptive tales in verse penned by Banjo Paterson, are well worth exploring. Reply David Hollywood February 9, 2018 Dear James and David, I sense I am in for a real treat and look forward to starting off immediately with your recommendations. Many thanks to you both for this wonderful new adventure. Reply James Sale February 10, 2018 There are many wonderful and salty Auzzie poems about – The Redback on the Toilet Seat springs to mind, though I can’t remember the author. But I like your take on the flowers, David, partly because Australia always produces such exotic and (to me) unknown hybrid forms as well as words!! You deploy it all so well. Great! Reply David Watt February 11, 2018 Thanks James for your very generous words. We do have a large number of distinctive native flowers in Australia, developed in isolation and adapted to harsh conditions. I deal with plant varieties each working day. Familiarity with subject matter assists, I believe, in conveying some sense of genuine feeling when it comes to writing. In any case, the odds of speaking clearly should at least improve. Reply Walibee Scrude February 10, 2018 Both poems show a budding promise. What fascinates me most about “Flower of Choice” is its rhyme scheme; if not absolutely unique, at least I have never seen a poem with that pattern. As Poe reminds us in his “Philosophy of Composition,” in a paragraph+ with absurd Romantic hyperbole but not without an important point, “And here I may as well say a few words of the versification. My first object (as usual) was originality. The extent to which this has been neglected, in versification, is one of the most unaccountable things in the world. Admitting that there is little possibility of variety in mere rhythm, it is still clear that the possible varieties of metre and stanza are absolutely infinite — and yet, for centuries, no man, in verse, has ever done, or ever seemed to think of doing, an original thing. The fact is, originality (unless in minds of very unusual force) is by no means a matter, as some suppose, of impulse or intuition. In general, to be found, it must be elaborately sought, and although a positive merit of the highest class, demands in its attainment less of invention than negation. Of course, I pretend to no originality in either the rhythm or metre of the “Raven.” The former is trochaic — the latter is octametre acatalectic, alternating with heptameter catalectic repeated in the refrain of the fifth verse, and terminating with tetrameter catalectic.” As Mr. Sale has pointed out, Mr. Watt brings the picturesque Australian landscape into his poetry, early inaugurated in Australian literature by figures such as Barron Field. What I like about the poem, as an admirer of didactic poetry, is its artistic use of knowledge and colour. “Calling for Sid” is a “merry yarn” in the tradition of the bush ballads, as Mr. Tweedle has pointed out; and his poem does leave one, as Mr. Hollywood has pointed out with a bit of glee. One can certainly see that Mr. Watt has a developing narrative capability. But he also has a developing sense of structure. The poem is a mixture of the ballad line in a creative rhyme scheme: abb caa dcc edd feeff. Reply David Watt February 11, 2018 I appreciate your most thoughtful comments and take great heart in your recognition of my search for structure in these poems. The rhyme scheme in ‘Flower of Choice’, which I will call a ‘Plurelle’ in the absence of my knowing any other form to name it, came about with a desire to continue the scheme which arose in the first stanza. Maybe I will try this form again some time, depending on whether the subject matter suits the form. I am glad that ‘Calling for Sid’ has brought forth a few laughs. Mostly though, I am gratified that in your valued opinion the structure aids the narrative. There are so many fine poets featured on ‘The Society’s’ website, and examples of successful structure to learn from. I will continue to experiment with form, while aiming for structure and meaning. Reply Walibee Scrude February 11, 2018 Mr. Watts’ name “plurelle” for his invented short form is perfect. Though I must admit I won’t be using it, it could be personalized, as Chris Bays has done with his pseudotaph, and so many others have with their various short, invented, poetic forms. Perhaps the best, small poem of our era, though not of the extraordinary level of the tanka or the haiku, is the alexandroid utilized by Mr. Carter and others. However the second poem inspired the following poem, which I have named a “wattle,” after David Watt, who revealed its form; it has an unusually weighted potential. I’m not sure I will take it up; but I could see falling into its remarkable structure occasionally. The Wattle by Walibee Scrude for David Watt The golden wattle, native of southeast Australian haunts, has flowers so arranged in inflourescent yellow globes, with bright green leathery, flat, leaflike structures called phyllodes. Acacia pycnantha is its scientifc name; its fluffy, sweet and fragrant flowers, overflowing flaunts, in eucalyptus forests, grow as understorey plants. It even flourishes when rushing fires ride hard-pressed, regenerating freely after wild burning flames that stimulate the germination of its seeds in same. There is a po’m in ev’ry form of tree or flower, but the poetry of Aussie flowers differs from the rest; strange scribblings outpour from nature on its uniquest. The thornbills and the honeyeaters pollinate their spill, of nectaries on green phyllodes, they brush against the shrub, and transfer pollen to the hanging flowers they have rubbed. And though at times it is a weed that travels where it will, Australians know they still are free if wattles take the hill. Reply David Watt February 12, 2018 I thoroughly enjoyed your poem ‘The Wattle’, both for its demonstration of your versatility across multiple forms, detailed knowledge of subject, and as a fitting tribute to Australian flora. Thank you so much for showing us a fine example of this structure. Reply Walibee Scrude February 13, 2018 Though it lacks the dynamic energy and narrative strength of “Calling for Sid,” the poem does draw for inspiration, particularly its last line, from two Henry Lawson poems—”The Wattle” and “Waratah and Wattle.” As Mr. Watt has pointed out before, Australian poetry is a treasure trove of remarkable voices. Reply Wendy Bourke March 21, 2018 I enjoyed these pieces – both of them: well constructed and wonderfully rendered. The rhyme and cadence are really well done. ‘Calling for Sid’ is very clever and humorous ~ I chuckled aloud – which I seldom do, reading poetry. Thank you for that! Awesome writing! Reply David Watt April 25, 2018 A belated thank you Wendy for your generous comments! I try to add some humor to most of my poems, and I am heartened when a chuckle or two results. Reply Leave a Reply to James Sale Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. 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