Dennis: The Singing Soldiers

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David Campbell
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Re: Dennis: The Singing Soldiers

Post by David Campbell » Tue May 31, 2016 8:44 pm

Yep, I know the site's been down, but it was up and running all last week while quite a few people were contributing to the "Is free verse killing poetry?" thread (which only started on the Tuesday). And yet nobody found time to hop over here with some thoughts about three of our most famous traditional poets. Ironic, eh? And not really very encouraging when it comes to pursuing the remaining four sections. R.I.P.?

Thank you for the referral to those poems...I know "This Goodbye", but not so sure about the other one.

Cheers
David

Heather

Re: Dennis: The Singing Soldiers

Post by Heather » Tue May 31, 2016 8:52 pm

Where the bloody hell are you? :lol:

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Shelley
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Re: Dennis: The Singing Soldiers

Post by Shelley » Tue May 31, 2016 9:23 pm

Thanks for that Heather - I will certainly check out those poems of Matt - he is always consistent in his quality.

David - I agree with you, I expected more engagement in your discussion. The website has been down for maintenance - but only since Sunday. As you say, it is over a week since you posted this thread.

I know I'm guilty of missing posts from time to time if other things keep me away from the Forum for a few days, so I'm not pointing the finger. And as I've mentioned in my post, it took me four days to respond because our internet was out.

But it would have been nice to see some more "parallel" examples from Forum contributors. There's no better way to stimulate one's own poetic inspiration than by productive discussion of the works of others.

Cheers
Shelley
Shelley Hansen
Lady of Lines
http://www.shelleyhansen.com

"Look fer yer profits in the 'earts o' friends,
fer 'atin' never paid no dividends."
(CJ Dennis "The Mooch o' Life")

Terry
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Re: Dennis: The Singing Soldiers

Post by Terry » Wed Jun 01, 2016 10:34 pm

Sorry David

I rarely follow everything that goes on in the forum, only occasionally getting involved in a topic.

But not because I'm not interested but more because I find it hard time-wise to keep up with all that's been written.

But can understand your disappointment at the lack of interest after you have gone to the trouble to set it up.

I often pop in and have a quick read without actually joining in.

Terry

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Maureen K Clifford
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Re: Dennis: The Singing Soldiers

Post by Maureen K Clifford » Thu Jun 02, 2016 8:17 pm

I always rather liked this poem of Henry's - it is packed with emotion and such a sad story that doubtless happened/happens in lots of families and ended before regret allowed a healing to take place. It is rather sparse in words considering the story it tells but then every word carries its weight and I doubt that padding it out would make it any better. Sometimes less is more

Scots Of The Riverina .. Henry Lawson


The boy cleared out to the city from his home at harvest time --
They were Scots of the Riverina, and to run from home was a crime.
The old man burned his letters, the first and last he burned,
And he scratched his name from the Bible when the old wife's back was turned.

A year went past and another. There were calls from the firing-line;
They heard the boy had enlisted, but the old man made no sign.
His name must never be mentioned on the farm by Gundagai --
They were Scots of the Riverina with ever the Kirk hard by.

The boy came home on his "final", and the township's bonfire burned.
His mother's arms were about him; but the old man's back was turned.
The daughters begged for pardon till the old man raised his hand --
A Scot of the Riverina who was hard to understand.

The boy was killed in Flanders, where the best and bravest die.
There were tears at the Grahame homestead and grief in Gundagai;
But the old man ploughed at daybreak and the old man ploughed till the mirk --
There were furrows of pain in the orchard while his housefolk went to the Kirk.

The hurricane lamp in the rafters dimly and dimly burned;
And the old man died at the table when the old wife's back was turned.
Face down on his bare arms folded he sank with his wild grey hair
Outspread o'er the open Bible and a name re-written there.
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Stephen Whiteside
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Re: Dennis: The Singing Soldiers

Post by Stephen Whiteside » Fri Jun 03, 2016 7:47 am

The reciter Richard Leitch ("Screitch") has always done a beautiful job with this, Maureen.
Stephen Whiteside, Australian Poet and Writer
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vwalla
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Re: Dennis: The Singing Soldiers

Post by vwalla » Fri Jun 03, 2016 11:02 am

This is my 4th attempt at replying, the other 3 apparently lost in the ether :o
I must admit that I am not partial to free verse ( particularly on this site.) However I find myself rather hypocritical with my favourite poem
"The White Magnolia Tree" by Helen Deutsch.
A clever combination of the two.
Cheers
Val W
PS I agree with Heather that CJ Dennis is difficult to read but having been fortunate enough to be introduced to his poetry by the
excellent presentations of the late great Bob Markwell I am now an avid fan.

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Shelley
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Re: Dennis: The Singing Soldiers

Post by Shelley » Fri Jun 03, 2016 12:34 pm

Hello Val

I love "The White Magnolia Tree" too! I first heard it when I was just a teenager (recited by the late Dame Enid Lorimer) and have loved it ever since. My Mum loved it too - actually she has been known to costume up and recite it at private events (while I played the piano accompaniment).

I'm sure many of our contributors are familiar with it, but here it is for those who haven't experienced its beauty. I am not sure if I have the line and verse breaks correct, but the text is all there. Although it is as you say, a combination of non-rhyming and rhyming verse, it flows so seamlessly and lyrically that you don't notice the transitions.

The White Magnolia Tree
(c) Helen Deutsch

The year that I was twenty-one – John, that year, was twenty-three.
That was the year, that was the spring we planted the white magnolia tree.
This tree (said John) shall grow with us, and every year it will bloom anew.
This is our love! This is our life! And the white magnolia grew and grew!

Oh, youth’s a thing of fire and ice, and currents that run hot and white …
and its world is as bright as the sun!
I was twenty-one ……

And I wore a plume in my hat!
And we went to the movies and wept over “Stella Dallas”.
and John sang “Moonlight and Roses” … a little off key, but very nicely, really.
And we hurried through our crowded days with beautiful plans, boundless ambitions and golden decisions!

There is so much the young heart clamours for …
this it must have, that it cannot live without …
and it must be all or nothing – for aren’t we the masters of creation?
Oh, valiant and untamed were we
when we planted the white magnolia tree!

And the white magnolia grew and grew, holding our love within its core.
And every year it bloomed anew …… and we were twenty-one no more!
No more untamed, no more so free,
nor so young, nor so wild as the flame were we.

Dearer to us then grew other things –
Easy sleep, books, a day’s quiet holiday,
a good talk beside the fire, the beauty of old faces.

We have known other things since then … the death of a child …
and the bitter lesson that the heart which breaks must mend itself anew –
and that it can, and must be done …
and what loyalty can be, and how real a word like “courage” can become …
and that solitude can be rich and gratifying, and quite different from loneliness.

There is so little the serious heart requires …
friends, faith, a window open to the world, pride in work well done,
and the courage to live in a world at war,
and still maintain the heart’s own private peace.

Dear Heaven, I give thanks to Thee for things I didn’t know before …
for the wisdom of maturity … for bread … and a roof … and for one thing more …
thanks that I still can see
the bloom on the white magnolia tree!
Shelley Hansen
Lady of Lines
http://www.shelleyhansen.com

"Look fer yer profits in the 'earts o' friends,
fer 'atin' never paid no dividends."
(CJ Dennis "The Mooch o' Life")

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David Campbell
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Re: Dennis: The Singing Soldiers

Post by David Campbell » Fri Jun 03, 2016 12:49 pm

Thank you for those earlier comments, Shelley. Yes, the lack of response has been surprising. When Heather suggested stretching this out to allow people time to respond I thought it was a good idea, but time doesn’t seem to be a factor. Given the popularity of Paterson and Lawson I assumed that everyone would have some favourite poems and it would only take a few minutes to post one and say why it was liked. For example, in this category there are quite a few Lawson poems (apart from those already mentioned) that might fit the bill…well-known ones like The Women of the Town, Reedy River, The Babies of Walloon, Faces in the Street, and The Fire at Ross’s Farm, to name just a few. But my assumption seems to have been wrong. Maybe it’s best to just leave this exercise open, without any sectional breakdown or guidance. I posted my Dennis poems in "The C J Dennis Challenge" thread, and anyone’s welcome to nominate Paterson/Lawson poems to match them wherever and whenever they feel like it.

Thanks, Terry.

Not a poem I’ve come across before, Maureen, so thanks for posting it. Certainly a rather gloomy piece, and one that may well resonate in a lot of rural communities today.

That takes me back, Val. It’s a long time since I’ve seen this. It reminds me in some ways of that famous prose poem, Desiderata. And yes, Bob always did an excellent job of conveying his love of Dennis's verse. The Dennis vernacular can be a challenge, but It should be remembered that much of what Dennis wrote was not in this style. None of the poems in The Glugs Of Gosh, for example, are in the vernacular.

Cheers
David

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Shelley
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Re: Dennis: The Singing Soldiers

Post by Shelley » Fri Jun 03, 2016 6:42 pm

True, David (about CJ Dennis) - and as you know, The Singing Garden collection of verses is likewise not in the vernacular.

Especially on autumn afternoons (my favourite season here in Queensland) I never fail to think of Den's exquisite Dusk. I so agree with him that "of all hours this is best", and if time permits I love to sit in my garden until "the dear sweet darkness comes".

I will go back to your original thread and take another look at the poems you posted.

Cheers
Shelley
Shelley Hansen
Lady of Lines
http://www.shelleyhansen.com

"Look fer yer profits in the 'earts o' friends,
fer 'atin' never paid no dividends."
(CJ Dennis "The Mooch o' Life")

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