Andrew Lansdown

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Windfalls

Windfalls
Andrew Lansdown
Fremantle Arts Centre Press (Fremantle), 1984
ISBN 0-909144-85-0

 

 

 

Back cover blurb

Windfalls is an exciting new collection by one of Australia’s foremost younger poets, reflecting his deep concern for the country’s flora and fauna, and for human relationships and spirituality.

Andrew Lansdown “has what I call a courage of delicacy, and a real unconventionality which resists the busy inertia of received literary attitudes; he is not afraid of concepts such as joy, nor of the literal tears in things. He espouses, though not all the time, an aesthetic of small observations.”
Les Murray, The Sydney Morning Herald

                                                                                    

 

 

4 Poems from Windfalls

 

When I Write

 

My study light draws moths
from the deep night
like a magician pulling pigeons
from an empty hat.

One is scrabbling
on the black slate of my window;
another has pinned
itself to the glass.

My thoughts are like moths
blind with the knowledge of light
They scrabble against my skull,
spread their wings when I write.

            © Andrew Lansdown

 

 

 

           A Remembrance of Robins

 

From the twig where they rested
I saw them flit away: two robins
white-capped and scarlet-breasted.

And for a moment they invested
the countryside with colour
from the twig where they rested.

No flower, no other bird contested
the bright display of these two—both
white-capped and scarlet-breasted.

Without warrant they arrested
me: plum blossoms seemed to bloom
from the twig where they rested.

And in departure they divested
the bush of brightness: bobbing away robins
white-capped and scarlet-breasted.

            © Andrew Lansdown

Female robin (3) Andrew Lansdown

 

 

Fire (2) Andrew Lansdown

 

Fire From Dark Water

 

By the far shore, the lights
are bright oils on a black canvas.
In the still night, voices ring
round the rim of the river: men confess

friendship, baptised in common purpose.
The moon is a sickle in a field of wheat.
So much is ripe for harvest!
The wind stirring, my soul is replete

with image and reflection.
There is time for gladness, time to forget
time. It is more than prawns
we will catch with this net.

Garfish scud, prawns skip as we approach.
Between us the net is aglow
like the mantle of a lamp.
How much loveliness can one man know?

Look—such luminescence! I stamp
my foot. My legs are trees, burning, a bark
of bright coal. Each step
is a strong wind, a flaying of sparks.

So, fire breaking from dark water
along the river, within our hearts.

            © Andrew Lansdown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grief

 

It is nothing tangible, no action, no word that has been said,
Just a feeling that sweeps the soul quite without warning
As a wind brushes the growing grain briefly on a calm morning.
It is a grief, a sudden remembrance that he is dead.

It is a feeling and a fact that God alone may understand.
Though I strain to remember, I long to forget.
But neither gives refuge or relief: either holds sorrow and regret.
He is gone: the cup is broken, the water spilt upon the sand.

Like a haunted theatre, there are lights and sounds in my head.
My mind flicks through old film, jams on an almost forgotten frame:
I see his face, hear his voice—and mine, whispering his name.
And for a moment there is nothing, no one I would rather instead.

It dies quickly, lies lightly like an autumn leaf;
But who knows what winds may flick it up again, this grief?

            © Andrew Lansdown

 

 

Review of Windfalls

 

Untitled review of Windfalls

by Paul Grover

 

Windfalls

by Andrew Lansdown

Published by Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1984, 88 pages

 

This is Andrew Lansdown’s fourth collection of poems. A few in this book we have seen in Christians Writing: “Matthew”, “mysweetson”, “Haiku on Robins”, “Bitterns” and “I Do Not Forget”. These poems were a foretaste of Windfalls.

     This collection reflects Andrew’s affinity with the patterns of nature, and his rich delicacy in appreciating the metaphors they offer. It is in the tiny ordinaries of nature observed, bleached crabshells on a beach, bitterns piercing water with rapier-like bills, moths scribbling shapes on a black-night glass, and a hawk coldly shrugging off the world in its overcoat of feathers, these are the places Andrew Lansdown takes us to touch and caress the delicacies of our world, and to read the small truths they speak of.

Fluttering about my light,

that moth

has been flustering me all night

 

Now it lies crippled,

its wings shattered,

flickering on the linoleum

like a spent candle

 

On my palm,

a slight smudge,

a dusting of gold

                                             (“That Moth”)

     Through this precise, intimate observation and the fine delicate structure of his descriptions, Andrew Lansdown draws us into a world we will hastily glance past. From here we can see and learn.

     Other poems in Windfalls take us into the wide arc of relationships, with the child whose unwitting words speak uncanny truths, into enduring grief for a lost brother, and to breast-to-breast love held between partners. Andrew opens us to that closeness blood brings. But all of Andrew Lansdown’s poetry is gently but deeply underscored with a sense of the created truths in this created world, God’s design in this natural pattern,

The old Japanese gardener

who keeps the river

is working hard today

 

He has raked

the entire bay

neatly

 

except for a small patch

near the centre

 

which he has trowelled

smooth     perfectly

smooth

 

Now just wait

 

and he will probably

move

that sailboat

 

into the stillness

 

for a mountain

(“The Old Japanese Gardener”)

     The title of this collection, Windfalls, suggests the truth is not capricious as some observe. What we see and know is not unplanned or unforeseen. Windfalls works from this deep grounding in the nature of things as they are, and in this poetry Andrew Lansdown determines to reach into this world to see the patterns it uncovers for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

© Paul Grover 

Published in Christians Writing, No. 16, Spring 1984.

 

 

 

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