[Editor: This review of An Anzac Muster by William Blocksidge (also known as William Baylebridge) was published in the “Books of the day” column in The Sun (Sydney, NSW), 3 September 1922.]
An Anzac Muster
William Blocksidge has produced much Australian poetry of the highest standard. He ranks with Bernard O’Dowd, though he is little known to the public. His poetry, like O’Dowd’s, is written for tough-minded readers: there is much thought in it, but the poetic ore needs dollying.
One reason why he is so little heard of is that most of his books are privately printed. Another lordly volume, also privately printed, and in prose, has now arrived. In it the author seeks to enshrine the soul of the Anzacs.
He pictures a meeting of two squatter brothers in Australia after the war, and the gathering together of a group of Anzacs employed on the station. These tell stories of the great campaign. They are men’s stories, strong and broad, touching deep essentials, and often with a Rabelaisian quip. Strong meat, but true Australian.
Throughout the story-telling the author paints many a delightful picture of the background to these brawny men at the camp-fire; he has a fine descriptive touch, and he knows his Australia. His prose is distinctive and beautifully cadenced.
“Those level plains where the horizons lie always on the other side of space, where the atmosphere is the rarefaction of nectar, where a kind Providence has sown grass that the wool-raiser might reap gold. … And good was it not to look thoughtfully along a full board, and hear the music of the machines as a hundred blades raced across the quivering flesh, and robbed it of its long-stapled riches? He pictured again the amazed flock just off the shears, and saw, as the sun dropped west, the yards turned from the morning’s grey to the white of evening. He brought to mind, too, the heavy wool waggons, those leviathans groaning under their dead weight of bales, and lurching on after the great-footed teams. …”
Parallel with such scenes are passages that describe with a grave impressiveness the awful work that went on at Gallipoli.
(“An Anzac Muster,” by William Blocksidge. Privately printed).
The Sun (Sydney, NSW), 3 September 1922, p. 14
[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]