Andrew Lansdown

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Poems Dedicated to Andrew

Over the years, various poets have paid tribute to Andrew and his work by dedicating poems to him. Among them are the eminent Australian poets Les Murray, Shane McCauley and Peter Kocan, whose poems are reproduced below:

 

 

Les Murray

A Verb Agreement

After a windstorm, the first man
aloft in our broad silky-oak tree
was Andrew Lansdown the poet,
bearded and supple, nimbly
disinvolving wrecked branches
up where I couldn’t clamber.

He asked for our chainsaw, but I
couldn’t let him hazard an iamb or
a dactyl, nor far worse his
perched body of value and verses;
showering rubies were an image to terrify
even about an imagist so spry.

So, above my scattered choppings, he
hawked with a handsaw west-and-southerly
and went home to Susan with our thanks,
God-spared from caesuras or endstoppings.
The tree has twice since become
a Scala of ginger balconies, a palladium

as it does every October.
Birds with skin heads like the thumb
on a black hand interrogate its bloom
with dulcet commentary till it’s sober
but, bat-nipped gold or greening out blue,
it glories like the kingdom within Andrew.

© Les Murray
from Conscious and Verbal (Duffy & Snellgrove, Sydney, 1999)
ISBN 1875989536

 

Prior to its publication, Les sent Andrew a copy of this poem with the following comments:

Bunyah 2429

17.11.98

Dear Andrew,

Merry Christmas to you & Susan & the family! I think this is what the daytime flying fox was demanding of me: I hope you like it.

Cheers,

Les

 

 

Shane McCauley

Small Farm Field Day, Balingup

for Andrew Lansdown

For a few cloud-dappled moments
We leave our watches behind
And return to a happy illusion
Of self-sufficiency, caught up
In a gentle burr of talk concerning
Water tanks and wire-fencing,
Mud bricks, small orchards, permaculture,
Breathing-in the atavistic festival odours
Of horse and sheep and goat

And I find time to pass with an old friend,
Talking and cussing about other
Culture, the literature we have ploughed
And farmed and long-laboured over,
And for all our differences find solace
In the shared language of poetic
Agriculture, the hazards breasted,
Survived …

And the woman I love like nightfall
Curtaining the long day returns
With her grace gift-wrapped by such
A day, and we side-step from what
Seems possibility of rural contentments
Knowing that, amid the murmurings of
Animals and birds, the squeaked yearnings
Of children, we have that one common
Piece of hope: a place to which
We can return.

© Shane McCauley

from Quadrant magazine, November 1996, p.42 

 

 

Peter Kocan

Inheritance

To Andrew Lansdown

Though peering dimly at the path ahead
I can’t pretend to see the faintest light,
Yet I cling to something Roy Campbell said
—That trusting all to luck is half the fight.
And even if it’s too late now to mend
The fabric to a shape we’d recognise,
I praise your lonely effort to defend
The truth against the fashionable lies.

Ah, but it was thus in every age,
Civilisation, all the books recall,
Has always had a hopeless war to wage,
Has always had its back against the wall.
We think this modern anguish is unique,
This time unparalleled in what it brings,
But we forget the Roman and the Greek
Faced horrors equal in their scale of things.

Even the holocaust we shudder from
Calls up the ancient battle of Cannae
Where tactics deadly as an atom bomb
Killed eighty thousand Romans in a day …
So glancing back at history we learn
Courage was ever mingled with despair,
And what we have inherited in turn
Is not uncustomary, nor unfair.

© Peter Kocan

from Standing with Friends (William Heinemann Australia, 1992)

ISBN 0855614919