An Aussie Christmas

That joyous time has come to pass
When summer’s heat warms man and beast,
And wheaten fields burnt burnished brass
Cannot compare, not in the least,
With star of gold upon the tree—
A pointer to Epiphany.

Excited children wake and run
To take delight at gifts below
Sunlit branches, silver-spun,
Where baubles glint like winter snow:
In short—rejoice in Christ the King,
Through joy of tinsel, globe, and string!

And when all presents have been shared,
Extended family pull up chairs
For fare where no expense is spared:
Of sweet-meats, nuts, and candied pears,
Potato salad, lots to drink,
Meringue desserts whipped creamy-pink.

A prayer is said for year ahead,
Where peace abounds, and dreams are met.
Then, after dinner jokes are read
From cracker papers: crumpled, wet;
And those around the table laugh,
Although the jokes are dry as chaff.

With table cleared and dishes washed,
A game of cricket soon begins,
Where hopes of festive fame are quashed
By heat of day and battered shins.
The match is duly called a draw—
The same each year—a yuletide law!

The players shuffle back indoors
To contemplate their catches missed;
And soon, the room resounds with snores
From those who try, but can’t resist
The pull of sleep which follows play,
For young and old on Christmas Day.

 

 

A Time Beyond

When time has fled away, as it must do,
And tresses strand-by-strand amount to gray,
There will emerge, as sure as night from day,
A beauty redefined—yet no less true;

For though your steps assume a slower pace,
Each movement will effect a pleasure yet,
Precluding any semblance of a threat
That passing years may lead to loss of grace.

And waking in the autumn of your days,
Remember then, these words of honest praise:
“Unlike the sun, which lessens after noon,
The light you cast will ever be immune.”

And in that moment, distant now from youth,
You’ll know that Love spoke timeless words of truth.

 

 

View from the Glade

There may not have ever been
__A brighter day than this,
Unless consigned to Time’s abyss:
__Forgotten—now unseen.

Each piercing ray has purpose sure
__In striking leaf or frond;
Illuminating scenes beyond
__And all that gleams before.

Wherever eye decides to gaze,
__On firmament or land,
Reflections burn like desert sand
__And shimmers fairly blaze.

Mere photographs will never hold
__Such moments, matte or gloss;
As silver grains are at a loss
__When asked to render gold.

The midday Sun must soon descend
__The westward skyway’s stair;
And by degree, fill cooling air
__With light of darker trend.

Despite regret, I will not let
__My mood transform to gray,
Because the memory of the day
__Shines on, and cannot set.

 

 

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.


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17 Responses

  1. Peter Hartley

    David – These three make good reading, particularly the third which is quite clever considering the difficulty of rhyming such short lines. The first paints a very detailed and descriptive picture of Christmas that differs markedly from a typical British one and held my interest for that reason.
    PS – Why didn’t I see squillions of wild kangaroos grazing on the lawns at Parliament House when I was there?

    Reply
    • David Watt

      Hello Peter, I am glad you enjoyed reading these three pieces.
      Christmas here often features outdoor activities, such as friendly backyard cricket matches.
      The heat at this time of year results in a greater emphasis on salads and cool beverages.
      As is usual with human nature, we generally look rather fondly on snowbound Christmas scenes from overseas, wishing that for a change we could experience a white Christmas.

      Parliament House has its fair share of ‘wild animals’, although only rarely do kangaroos manage to reach the lawns. We do see kangaroos every other day when we drive from one part of Canberra to another. On two occasions we have had confused kangaroos in our own backyard.

      Reply
      • James A. Tweedie

        During my year pastoring two congregations in Adelaide (1984-5) I had a good chuckle when we sang the English Christmas carol, “In the bleak midwinter
        Frosty wind made moan,
        Earth stood hard as iron,
        Water like a stone;
        Snow had fallen,
        Snow on snow,
        In the bleak midwinter,
        Long ago.”
        as the outdoor temperature reached a century and beyond!

        We arrived in South Australia one year after the infamous Ash Wednesday (II) bushfires the killer 75 and injured over 2600 in SA and Victoria. The hills to the SE of the city were still charred and we drove past many of the burnt-out homes and structures where people had been trapped by the fast-moving flames. Fortunately, we had no local fires the year we were there, it we did experience a massive red-sand storm that descended on the city like a biblical plague. One of the more awesome weather phenomena I have ever experienced.

  2. Lannie David Brockstein

    The indentation scheme of Mr. Watt’s “View from the Glade” as it appears on this webpage is incorrectly formatted, because it doesn’t correspond with each stanza’s rhyme scheme.

    How enjoyable the sight of the sunlight upon the trees and sky during the days of Autumn, near where I live. My thanks to Mr. Watt for his words having reminded me during this mainly snowless yet cloudy Winter, at least thus far here in Canada, of that beautiful time earlier this year.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      Lannie, indentations do not have to correspond to a rhyme scheme. In fact, more typically they correspond to line length. Here they serve to mark off trimeter lines from the pentameter lines. Strictly speaking, no indentation is required at all; it’s just a device to make the right hand side of the poem a bit more even, a visual aid to help the reader (and writer) distinguish lines of different length.

      Reply
      • Lannie David Brockstein

        C.B., the way that its formatting is currently indented, makes it more difficult than it ought to be, if one is performing a rhyming poem and is familiar with its rhyme scheme, but does during its performance need to scan the poem in order to see which line is next.

        Perhaps the performer might need to do so from their having had a bit too much eggnog to drink before they stepped onto the stage at a reading series show—as is recommended, at least here in Canada, due to how prosaic the performances of most Canadian free verse poems are.

        It is much easier to scan for the end rhyme of each line in order to determine which line is next, than to read each entire line. That is the paradox of indenting every other pair of rhyming lines!

    • David Watt

      Thank you Lannie, and David. Hopefully by Christmas we will see an easing here of bushfires, and a return to cloudless, smokeless days.

      Reply
      • Lannie David Brockstein

        It is not only are the bushfires that are dangerous. The flame retardant chemicals of the pharmaceutical companies that are sprayed on them, are toxic to humans and the environment, too. Perhaps drinking medicinal clay water can help; there is much information online about that and other natural detoxification products.

        If I lived in a flood zone or where there are bushfires, then I would much rather own an environmentally friendly off-grid “Tiny House on Wheels” that I can quickly and easily tow to safe ground, if necessary, rather than owning or renting a house on a foundation that is basically a sitting duck for the increasing number of catastrophes that are a result of climate change.

  3. James A. Tweedie

    David, I have long admired your wit and humor (which shows well in your Christmas poem) but was pleased to discover a streak of sweet sentimentality in the final two. I found the subject addressed and tenderness expressed in “A Time Beyond” to be particularly effective, well-crafted and moving.

    Reply
    • David Watt

      Thank you James for your appreciation of these poems.
      I am particularly gratified that you found “A Time Beyond”to be well-crafted and moving. Unlike yourself, I have written very few sonnets to date.

      Reply
  4. Anissa Gage

    Glad to meet you, David, from here in the Northeast of the USA. I have only two friends, internet friends, poet friends , from Australia, so I particularly enjoyed seeing the season through your eyes. As for the sonnet: I found it, being a lady of a certain age, to be very moving. I especially liked your take on the Petrarchan structure, using couplets for the sestet.

    Reply
    • David Watt

      I am also glad to meet you Anissa. The couplet structure in the sestet developed as the sonnet progressed, and seemed to me the best fit at the time.
      The fact that you found this sonnet to be moving is precisely the impact I had hoped to achieve.

      Reply
  5. James Sale

    Lovely work David and I especially like: “There will emerge, as sure as night from day,/ A beauty redefined—yet no less true”. Your preoccupation with the eternal as manifested in the temporal is thematically important and I wish more poets were as preoccupied by it as you are. Well done.

    Reply
    • David Watt

      Thank you very much James.
      As the years pass I do tend to reflect more on universal truths evident all around us. Beauty, life, and eternity each provide ample inspiration for poets.

      Reply
  6. C.B. Anderson

    Lannie, your first comment from December 11 was absolutely incoherent. I don’t have a clue in regard to what you were writing about, and neither, or so it would seem, do you.

    Reply

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