Australianists [review of Jindyworobak poetry, 4 January 1941]


“Corrobooree to the Sun,” by Ian Mudie, Hawthorn Press; “Jindyworobak Anthology, 1940.” Edited by Rex Ingamells, F. W. Preece, Adelaide; “Eighteen Poems,” by Garry Lyle. — The Cloister Press.

Four of Mr. Mudie’s poems appear also in the new “Jindyworobak Anthology” of Australian contemporary verse; they have all been printed first in “The Publicist.” This indicates a connection of sympathy between the poet, Mr. P. R. Stephensen, and Mr. Ingamells; and in point of fact they are at one in striving for the recognition and development of native Australian culture. Mr. Mudie writes, in an apostrophe to the aboriginal:

Damn it, Jacky, you know it, too;
The whole damn country belongs to you;
They never belong for even a day,
For Europe is only a dream away.

Again he proclaims that

none but fools
Can fail to see we drink
An older culture, old as Alcheringa,
Through every pore from bush-fed,
Dust-fed, wattle-and-gum-fed, air
Unwittingly in every hour.

As might be expected, then, from these sentiments and from the title of his book, Mr. Mudie’s poems are about the Australian scene and its rightful inhabitants. It almost seems that he would be content to lose himself in Alcherlngha, the ancient aboriginal time of dream. The, white settlers whom he attacks so bitterly in “Wool-Cheque” and other poems, may wish he could; but it would be a loss to Australian poetry.

“Each year,” writes Mr. Ingamells in a prefatory note to his anthology, “brings further proof that there is a great deal of literary talent in Australia cherishing a sense of national direction”; and he gathers together here poets from all the States and even from New Guinea. The New South Wales representatives are J. McAuley, John Opie, and William Hart-Smith. Lyricism is noticeably absent from the volume, so that one gets quite a shock in coming upon Anne Scanlan’s “The Big Grey Ship,” which follows the older lyrical tradition and is (not entirely on that account) inferior to some of the more matter-of-fact pieces. Rex Ingamells himself contributes two poems; his brother John one. Few other well-known poets are included, though Paul Grano, Brian Vrepont, and Max Harris are gaining fame. Some poems that stand out are Geoffrey Reading’s “Impulse,” Brian Alcorn’s “September,” Jo Howarth’s “The Bethel-chewers,” Max Harris’s “Let Me Not Call You Lovely,” Ian Mudle’s “This Land,” and James Picot’s “Elegy for Liebe.”

Garry Lyle, too, is a Jindyworobak poet, his “Eighteen Poems” being introduced by a prominent writer-member, who describes them as “freshly assertive of faith in the greatness of human destiny . . . also frank communications of feeling.” He produces an aboriginal chant, “The Rainmaker’s Stone,” and an impassioned comment on the Spanish Civil War; translations from the French and bitter expressions of youth’s tragedy in the present conflict; all in modern style, with some feeling for rhythm.

Garry Lyle, Ian Mudie, and the others indicate the vitality and modernity of poetry in Australia.

The Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, NSW), Saturday 4 January 1941, page 8

[Editor: Corrected “Stephenson” to “Stephensen”, as the person referred to is Percy Reginald Stephensen.]

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