When springtime has come to the high mountain ranges
The melting of snow bares the landscape to changes;
And creatures awaken from seasonal slumber
In valleys below, where snows never encumber
The passage of feet between tussocks still growing
Through long months of winter—the season of slowing.
Then, kangaroos lift up their nostrils to breezes
And twitch to the richness the warming air seizes.

They savour the scents of fresh daisies and grasses,
Sphagnums as piquant as seasoned molasses,
Fragrant Coprosma and marigold buttons;
Favourable grazing for herbivore gluttons
Desirous of pleasures in highlands rebounding
From coldness to sweetness in triumph resounding.
Ascending by shuffle and leap alternating,
The mob reach those treasures made sweeter through waiting.

Up there, where the light shines with brightness unmuted
The macropod diners make haste undisputed;
Batting eyelashes between endless courses,
Surveying the scene, and replenishing forces
For times when the pickings are lower and leaner;
When memories of springtime are felt all the keener.
And wrigglesome joeys, impatient to frolic,
Drop down from their pouches to pastures bucolic.

When spring turns to summer, the frolicking ceases
As space between patches of greenness increases.
The kangaroos’ whiskers, once silvered with morning,
Bear dust on their tips as an ominous warning
That lengthening days, and the west wind arriving
Must yellow and wither the grasses surviving.
Then, taking the lead from a battle-scarred bounder,
The mob take their leave before food supplies founder.

Though kangaroos act on sensations and hunches,
They teach us to cheerfully roll with the punches;
Accepting that seasons are fickle and fleeting,
In rhythms dependent on cycles repeating.
Take what you can when the moment emerges—
For there will be times when a hostile wind surges.

 

 

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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19 Responses

  1. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    David, this poem combines my love of words with my love of animals and has filled my Saturday morning with marsupial merriment! The poem rolls along with foot-tapping musicality and the images it conjures are lovely – “Marigold buttons/herbivore gluttons”, “impatient to frolic/pastures bucolic” are just two of my favourites. The wise wink in the closing couplet is a masterstroke – I’m definitely learning a lesson from those Kangaroos “With Spring in Their step” – great title! Thank you!

    Reply
    • David Watt

      I really appreciate your kind comments Susan. There are certainly plenty of ‘hostile winds’ to contend with at the moment. Far better to make the most of the cards we’re dealt.

      Reply
  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    I always delight in these non-iambic meters, especially when they pound along (in this case, just like the marsupials being described). Part of my pleasure is in the fact that such poems send our modernist enemies into a blood-rage of resentment: the poems are frequently examples of the much-hated “light” verse; and their metrical hard punches remind everyone that regular ictus is a mark of genuine verse.

    Watt also does something here that should be a lesson to all of us: HE DOESN’T COUNT SYLLABLES. Most of the lines here have twelve syllables, but five of them have only eleven, and this has no effect whatsoever on the smooth flow of the meter. In addition, Watt refuses to indulge in the pretentious affectation of using apostrophes to omit an unpronounced syllable. For example, in the third stanza the line “When memories of springtime are felt all the keener”, the second word has to be pronounced MEM – ries. But Watt quite rightly leaves the regular spelling of that word alone.

    He does the same thing in stanza 2, line 4 ( “Favourable grazing for herbivore gluttons”). The first word has to be pronounced FAVE – ra – bull, as any intelligent reader will realize in a flash, without the absurdity of an apostrophe.

    Also, pulling off nineteen feminine rhymes is a tour de force. Solid work, Mr. Watt!

    Reply
    • David Watt

      Thanks Joe S. for your detailed comments, and for your support.

      It has largely been through reading SCP comments that I have become more conscious of not counting syllables, or abbreviating unnecessarily.

      This is the first time I have tried using feminine endings for each line. I think they add some variety to a mainly anapestic line.

      Reply
  3. Jeff Eardley

    David, what a firecracker of sizzling, stupendous synchronicity. Rhyming and scanning to perfection. I can hear guitars, I can hear the jaws harp, I can hear wobble boards for Christ’s sake! This could be the next Eurovision winner (Yes, you are still in it) and if this doesn’t make you poet laureate of that fair dinkum nation of yours, I’ll eat my hat….and the corks.

    Reply
    • David Watt

      Thank you Jeff for your most generous comments.
      I’ll await a call from the Eurovision Committee, but I won’t hold my breath!
      Australia once had a poet laureate, the convict Michael Massey Robinson, appointed in 1818. I understand that he was paid two cows for his services.
      We haven’t had a poet laureate since, possibly because contenders had a ‘beef’with the pay.

      Reply
  4. David Paul Behrens

    In addition to being a well constructed poem using colorful and descriptive language with a rhythmic flow, I find deep meaning in the final stanza as it pertains to past and current human activities and existence. In a word, it is excellent.

    Reply
    • David Watt

      David, I’m glad the final stanza, in particular, resonated with you. ‘Rolling with the punches’ is a fine principle to follow, though not always easy.

      Reply
  5. Norma Okun

    William Carlos Williams said in his autobiography to listen to the poem first without having to understand immediately what the message is. Since I hear d the kangaroo in the wild in your poem I liked it. I think you did see the kangaroo and showed you do care about them.

    Reply
    • David Watt

      Hi Norma, yes I have seen many kangaroos in their natural environment.
      They are a fascinating animal, and extremely adaptable to changing conditions. A kangaroo doe can even have two joeys using her pouch at the same time.

      Reply
      • Norma Okun

        Lovely poem about kangaroos. I am glad that you had a chance to see them in their environment and being able to write a poem about them.

  6. C.B. Anderson

    Though a self-described bush poet, David, you have lifted yourself out of the bush league and are beyond criticism by any normal technical standard. Your poem is a virtual boomerang that demolishes all expectations, yet still comes home to roost in the the hand of its author.

    Reply
    • David Watt

      Thanks C.B. for your tremendous comments. I like to think I’ve picked up some more technical skills though continuous learning. Having some knowledge of the subject, whether it is kangaroos, or something else, lends greater detail and authenticity to a descriptive poem.

      Reply
  7. Margaret Coats

    As one of my wrigglesome joeys nicknamed me “Mamaroo,” I thoroughly appreciate these extended comments on his characterization!

    Reply
    • David Watt

      Margaret, what an endearing nickname one of your joeys has given you!
      I’m so glad you appreciated the specific characteristics presented in this poem.

      Reply
  8. Peter Hartley

    David – a very fine poem, this, with clever use of female rhyme throughout. I’ve read it four times now and each time it gets better.

    Reply
    • David Watt

      Thanks very much Peter. The feminine rhymes seemed to suit the long lashes and deceptively delicate appearance of kangaroos.

      Reply

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