"A Bivouac of Travellers in Australia in a Cabbage Tree Forest, Daybreak" by Augustus Earle‘Cabbage-Tree Day Break’ by Stephen McCarthy The Society March 2, 2019 Beauty, Culture, Poetry 7 Comments I like it, though it’s very dark; The firelight a fading arc Along the tree, whose ageing bark Shows day is near. I like it, but have questions yet: I do not know where this is set, And are they strangers? Have they met? Why are they here? The people all are gathered round The fire; some sit on the ground, One stands, as if to hear the sound Of breaking day. The black is turned to navy blue As streaks of red command the view, Though none among those lonely few Seem drawn away. There seems to me to be no plan As, joining them, a native man Sits with them, and from that same clan A woman stands Behind the fire, beside the tree, But even so, it’s hard to see The woman, as she seems to me, Warming her hands Upon the flames, as people wake, Get up, saddle the horse, and make A pot of billy tea, to slake Their thirst. The sky Grows bright, and signals to the crew To journey on to pastures new: They will not stay; they’re passing through, And so am I. Stephen McCarthy is a poet residing in Sydney, Australia, who is about to commence studies in an unrelated field at the University of New South Wales. He has won a number of awards for his poem On the Ellipsis. 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 7 Responses James A. Tweedie March 2, 2019 Stephen, With traditional Australian poetry I expect a story with a plot and sometimes a twist at the end. Your lovely poem fooled me by leaving the narrative tale aside and simply and graphically describing an outback tableau being played out at dawn–offering mere hints as to the back story (drovers, no doubt, off to an early start knowing that the afternoon heat will soon slow their workday to a shade-seeking crawl). Beautifully told. I remember seeing a similar scene (although it was late night rather than early morning) in an Aboriginal camp on the outskirts of Alice Springs back in 1984. Your poem brought back many memories. I am curious about the rhyme scheme. I can’t recall an example of bush poetry using this particular pattern. If you can think of one, let me know. Thanks. Good luck with your studies and please submit more poems! Reply Stephen McCarthy March 5, 2019 Dear Mr. Tweedie, If I’m honest, I don’t know of any Australian poetry that uses this pattern (but then again, my knowledge of poetry in general is pretty poor). I basically lifted the scheme from Betjeman’s ‘Slough’ – almost as far away as one can get, I guess (not sure of any other examples either). Hearing my dad recite it just struck me; I don’t really have any better reason (sorry). Thank you also for your kind words, and I’m glad you enjoyed the poem. Reply Jeff Nicholson March 2, 2019 A very beautiful poem! Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed the vivid imagery and how all the senses are engaged. You also did a wonderful job of enlivening this unique social interaction in such a way that the reader can easily place himself near the gathering at the fire–if not just off in the shadows peering in. Reply Stephen McCarthy March 5, 2019 Thank you Mr. Nicholson; I’m glad you enjoyed it. Reply David Watt March 4, 2019 In my opinion, the beauty of this poem derives from a clever combination of questions posed, complementary images, and the enlivening of what at first glance may seem to be an obscure scene. “And so am I.” rounds off this piece perfectly. Reply Stephen McCarthy March 5, 2019 Thank you Mr. Watt for your comments. Reply C.B. Anderson March 4, 2019 The only thing missing was a boomerang, but the social transposition instantiated in the poem was probably sufficient to make up for that. Australians should be grateful for the aboriginal culture that preceded them on their island continent. Crocodile Dundee appears to have understood this very well. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.