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Eulogy for Hal Colebatch

Photo: Four Poets – Hal Colebatch, Rod Moran, Andrew Lansdown & (seated) Les Murray (2002)

Andrew’s friend, esteemed Australian poet, novelist and essayist, Hal G.P. Colebatch, died on 9th September 2019, and his widow, Alexandra, asked Andrew to conduct the memorial service and to present the eulogy. The text of Andrew’s tribute (plus a postscript) is now posted on this website.

Tribute for Hal Colebatch

Memorial Service, 23 September 2019

Alexandra [Hal’s wife] has asked me to bring a tribute on behalf of herself and her family. There are two facets of Hal’s life that Alexandra wanted me to focus on—and I am delighted to be able to do this, for I share her conviction that these are, ultimately, the most important—namely, Hal’s faith and his family.

Before elaborating on these matters, however, permit me to make a few brief comments about Hal’s character and his achievements.

Hal was a fundamentally decent and kind man. He was loyal to his friends and generous to those who approached him for help. He was a man of extraordinary intellect and literary ability—and he did not squander these gifts. Indeed, as his astonishing literary output demonstrates, he was the most diligent and vigilant of men. He loved justice and truth and he courageously strove to protect and advance them, knowing that injustice and lies are the enemies of human flourishing.

Hal earned degrees in history and law and gained a PhD in political science. He worked as a journalist, a lawyer, a political advisor, and an editor. And of course, through it all, he wrote, and wrote and wrote.

He wrote poetry, articles, reviews, radio plays, novellas, novels, biographies, and books on the culture wars.

And despite the massive prejudice against him by the left-controlled literary world, he was awarded the 2008 Western Australian Premier’s Literary Award for poetry for his book, The Light River, and the 2014 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for history for his best-selling book, Australia’s Secret War.

In October last year, Hal emailed me a copy of his latest, unpublished poetry collection, titled Under a Dragon Moon. In the dedication, he states, “It being time to fly one’s flag, I dedicate this volume to the greater glory of God, and once again to my beloved family, Alexandra, Katie, Alexander and James …”

And this brings me to the two things that Alexandra wanted me to emphasise in this tribute—Hal’s faith and his family. …


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Poem in The Mozzie

The Mozzie has published Andrew’s poem, “Windbell with Bamboos” in Vol 27, Issue 6, August 2019. “Windbell with Bamboos” is a suite of 3 tanka that is included in Andrew’s recent collection, Distillations of Different Lands.

“Windbells with Bamboos” is a tanka suite rather than a tanka sequence, as each tanka is a self-contained poem. Nonetheless, placed together the poems make something larger than themselves.

Windbell with Bamboos


I see it again
in the sacred trinkets stall
at Inari Shrine—
the little windbell voicing
its verve on my veranda.


I dangled it there
among the Buddha bamboos
in the shiftless air—
the windbell that days before
had dinged too much by my door.


It’s not quite what I
wanted when I hung the wind-
bell in the bamboos:
they cherished it as their own
and coddled to death its tone.

          © Andrew Lansdown

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Poem in Eucalypt: A Tanka Journal

Eucalypt: A Tanka Journal (Issue 27, 2019) has published one of Andrew’s tanka. The (as yet) untitled poem is reproduced below:


come the climax
of their glory, the maples
are spent, as once
on cracker night heaps of trash
blazed awhile then turned to ash

© Andrew Lansdown

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Tribute Poem by Peter Kocan for Hal GP Colebatch

Some years ago, Andrew’s friend, Peter Kocan, wrote a poem, “Seafarer”, in honour of another of Andrew’s friends, Hal GP Colebatch.

Tragically, Hal died of illness in hospital on 9 September this year (2019). It seems appropriate to remember him with Peter’s fine tribute poem:






To Hal Colebatch

A heaving deck, a sail unfurled,
The navigator’s art,
Will find the measure of the world
And of the human heart.

For the seafarer knows his fate
Depends on judging true
Both what the elements dictate
And what a man may do.

He knows that he must reckon right,
If he’s to voyage far,
That balance of the inner light
And of the outer star.

And all his time is ordered by
The vigils he must keep
To steer between the fickle sky
And the unknowing deep.

And these are obligations laid
Alike on you and me,
For more are of the sailor’s trade
Than ever put to sea.

               © Peter Kocan

To read more of Peter Kocan’s poems, go to the OTHER POETS & POEMS/ PETER KOCAN page on this website, here.

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Christmas Poems by Robert Southwell

Andrew has added to his website 2 outstanding Christmas poems by the sixteenth century English poet, Robert Southwell — “The Burning Babe” and “A Child My Choice”. These two poems are exceptional from both a devotional and a poetical point-of-view. Southwell’s love of Christ is accentuated by his love of poetry and his exception mastery of poetic technique.

The great English poet and playwright, Ben Johnson, once remarked that if he had written Southwell’s “The Burning Babe” he “would have been content to destroy many of his” own poems. Quite so. See for yourself:



The Burning Babe

As I in hoary winter’s night stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright did in the air appear;
Who, scorched with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed
As though his floods should quench his flames which with his tears were fed.
Alas, quoth he, but newly born in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I!
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns;
The fuel justice layeth on, and mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men’s defiled souls,
For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my blood.
With this he vanished out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I called unto mind that it was Christmas day.

               Robert Southwell

To read Robert Southwell’s equally outstanding poem, “A Child My Choice”, go to the OTHER POETS & POEMS/ ROBERT SOUTHWELL page on this website, here.

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Poem in The Lion Christian Poetry Collection


Andrew recently discovered that his poem “Reaction to a Retard” has been published in 3 editions of The Lion Christian Poetry Collection—first published in 1995, then reprinted in 2001 and 2005.

“Reaction to a Retard” has been widely published. It was first collected in Andrew’s award-winning book, Between Glances, a few copies of which are still available through this website, here.

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Two Poems in Quadrant


The September 2019 issue of Quadrant contains 2 of Andrew’s poems: “The Martyred Mother”, a poem written in 7 unrhymed quatrains (except for the last quatrain, which rhymes A, B, C, B), and “Little Endings” suite of 6 haiku.

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Four poems in Studio – And Praise from Les Murray

Studio magazine published 4 of Andrew’s poems in its No. 146, 2019 edition. The poems are: “Of Maples and …”, a set of 5 tanka; “Bamboo Forest, Arashiyama”, a set of 3 haiku; “Windbells at Fushimi Inari Shrine”, a set of 3 tanka; and “The Shogun and the God”, a set of 2 tanka.

The final haiku in “Bamboo Forest, Arashiyama” reads:

With sky for dojo—
the giant timber bamboos
practising kendo.

          © Andrew Lansdown

This issue of Studio also contains a favourable review by Garry Furnell of Andrew’s recent poetry-and-photography collection, Kyoto Momiji Tanka, which can be purchased through this website here.

Additionally, the first page of Studio 146 contains a statement by the late Les Murray about Andrew. In a tribute to Les, the editor of Studio, Paul Grover, quotes from a postcard he received from Les in 2006. Among other things, Les told Paul, “As for Andrew Lansdown, he’s one of our very best poets, spitefully ignored most of the time.”

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Poem in Kyoto Journal

Kyoto Journal (No. 94) has published Andrew’s poem, “Dragonflies from the Bamboo Forest”.

Kyoto Journal is an award-winning English-language magazine founded in 1987 in Kyoto, Japan. It presents cultural and historical insights from all of Asia, with a major focus on Japan. It is published biannually.

The text of Andrew’s poem is reproduced below:

Dragonflies from the Bamboo Forest

They journeyed from Japan,
the bamboo dragonflies
buoyant by my bookcase.

Members of a squadron
of small fixed-wing flyers,
they zeroed in on me

as I walked with my wife
through an ancient forest
of tall timber bamboos.

And I quickly yielded
to the craftsman for them
my pocketful of yen.

Now they hover weightless
above papers and books,
upheld by just the tips

of their noses touching
the raised sticks of their stands,
the weight of their bodies

and long tails magically
offset by the weight of
their forward-thrusting wings.

They tremble dreamily
in the still air above
the tarmac of my desk,

tempting me to puff them
into storm even as
I marvel at their poise,

reminding me always
of the balance and grace
they own but I must chase.

            © Andrew Lansdown

A slightly altered version of this poem is included in Andrew’s new collection, Distillations of Different Lands (Sunline Press).

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Reviews of Kyoto Momiji Tanka






Goodreads, “the world’s largest site for readers and book recommendations”, has two brief reviews of Andrew’s latest poetry-and-photography book, Kyoto Momiji Tanka:


Trevor’s Review
Dec 23, 2018
This is a delightful collection of mostly tanka poems lavishly illustrated using photos taken by the poet.

Susan Austin’s Review
Apr 04, 2019
Beautiful photos matching some interesting poems, like traveling to Japan in Autumn from the comfort of your couch, with someone who is good at taking in the details and making some quirky comparisons.

Learn more about Kyoto Momiji Tanka on this website here.

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Poem in Eucalypt: A Tanka Journal

Eucalypt: A Tanka Journal (Issue 26, 2019) has published Andrew’s poem “no consolation”.

Unlike most of the 5-line poems in the magazine, Andrew’s poem conforms to the the traditional syllabic structure used by the ancient Japanese tanka poets. Also, Andrew has structured his poem so that each line is a balanced phrase ending on an identical consonant.

no consolation
but it was by death it won
my admiration—
this long-snouted seadragon
snagged in weed by the ocean

            © Andrew Lansdown

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Poem in The Mozzie

Andrew’s poem “Sketches of Life” has been published the May 2019 (Vol.27, No. 4) issue of The Mozzie. “Sketches of Life” is a gunsaku consisting of six haiku. It is included in Andrew’s latest book of poetry, Distillations of Different Lands, which has was published late last year by Sunline Press. The last haiku in this set of six is:

A shrugging gesture—
the child making it uses
even her eyebrows.

          © Andrew Lansdown

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Poem in Quadrant

Andrew’s poem “Autumn Maples” has been published in the April 2019 issue of Quadrant magazine. The poem, a set of two tanka, is reprinted below:


Autumn Maples

.         .1

Spinning Out

As they spun out
during the scourging of Christ,
so the blood-drops
are hurtling from the maples
as the wind flogs their raw backs.

.         .2

Right Time

The south hemisphere
is not the maples’ true home
—and yet only here
do they perform the Passion
plays at the right time of year.

          © Andrew Lansdown

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New Book – Kyoto Momiji Tanka: Poems & Photos of Japan in Autumn

Rhiza Press has published a new collection of Andrew’s poems and photographs.

Kyoto Momiji Tanka is a stunning collection of poems and photographs celebrating the ancient capital of Japan, Kyoto, during autumn, when the maples (momiji) vividly colour the natural, cultural and emotional terrains of the Japanese.

The poems (written in a traditional Japanese form known as tanka) and photographs introduce readers to a fascinating world of Shinto brides, tanuki, spirit foxes, geisha, shakuhachi players and, of course, autumn maples.

Kyoto Momiji Tanka is a companion volume to Kyoto Sakura Tanka (Rhiza Press, 2016), which celebrates Kyoto in spring during the cherry blossom (sakura) season.

Read sample poems and view sample photographs on the Kyoto Momiji Tanka page on this website here.

Order a copy of Kyoto Momiji Tanka for $24.95 (free postage in Australia) through the Buy Books page on this website.

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Two Poems in Quadrant

The March 2019 issue of Quadrant magazine contains two of Andrew’s poems— “Of Maples and …”, a 5-tanka gunsaku, and “Windbells at Fushimi Inari Shrine”, a 4-tanka gunsaku. The first and third “Windbells” tanka are reproduced below:

Windbells at Fushimi Inari Shrine

.        .1


A shop at the shrine
selling big-tailed stone foxes
and toy-sized torii
has a dangle of windbells,
all dinging with the wind’s dint.

.        .3


There is everything
and nothing sacred about
this Shinto windbell
whose fashioned material
sounds out the ethereal.

          © Andrew Lansdown


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Three poems in Studio

The latest issue of Studio magazine (No. 145, 2019) contains three of Andrew’s poems: “Them Shoes”, “Miscellaneous Thoughts on Poetry” and “Suburban Birds”.

“Miscellaneous Thoughts on Poetry” is set of three tanka, while “Suburban Birds” is a set of five haiku. “Them Shoes” is a 52-line “free form” poem set in Bourbon Street in New Orleans. All three poems are included in Andrew’s latest book , Distillations of Different Lands, which has was released late last year by Sunline Press.

The first and last haiku in “Suburban Birds” are reprinted below:

Suburban Birds

.        .i
The overhead wire—
a pair of welcome swallows
singing in the sag.

.        .v
Such a lovely note—
how could I not look up to
find the pardalote?

          © Andrew Lansdown

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