Judith Wright

Judith  [read more about her here] lived her married life on Mount Tamborine in Qld where she had a daughter. Widowed after 20 years she spent her last 25 years in Braidwood, NSW. Mainly campaigning for reconciliation that lead to her often being referred to as ‘the conscience of the nation’. Her activism was indeed impressive, but the claim is that she was best known for her poetry … I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Her deep love for Australia and her growing distress at the devastation of the environment by white Australians, led her to help form the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland in the mid-1960s, a powerful conservation group. She fought to conserve the Great Barrier Reef, when its ecology was threatened by oil drilling and campaigned against sand mining on Fraser Island. Along with her deep awareness of environmental issues, Judith became an ardent supporter of the Aboriginal land rights movement.

The message of her poem “Eve to Her Daughters” is that when man believes that he himself is God, the world will be led astray from faith. Eve warns her daughters not to be “submissive” but rather to help man see that God can still exist in the face of mechanization and scientific advancement.

JW has an uncanny resemblance to another author I know …

Failure of communion

What is the space between,
enclosing us in one
united person, yet
dividing each alone.

Frail bridges cross from eye
to eye, from flesh to flesh,
from word to word: the net
is gapped at every mesh,

and this each human knows:
however close our touch
or intimate our speech,
silences, spaces reach
most deep, and will not close.

 

Judith Wright

The old prison

The rows of cells are unroofed,
a flute for the wind’s mouth,
who comes with a breath of ice
from the blue caves of the south.

O dark and fierce day:
the wind like an angry bee
hunts for the black honey
in the pits of the hollow sea.

Waves of shadow wash
the empty shell bone-bare,
and like a bone it sings
a bitter song of air.

Who built and laboured here?
The wind and the sea say
-Their cold nest is broken
and they are blown away-

They did not breed nor love,
each in his cell alone
cried as the wind now cries
through this flute of stone.

24 comments

  1. another beautiful share Kate. the second poem is really what i love of the two. like Val, i will have to go check more of her.

    P. S
    with you sharing poets from Australia, i wonder what happened back when i was in the Academe teaching World Literature and Aus is not even in the list, ahhhh time to change the “old school” literary concept maybe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • so very glad you enjoyed it Val … some of our original prisons were still in used late last century!

      The one in the outback town where I worked, the usual police station cells, are completely open to the elements eg the roof is bars with no cover! Where 9 months of the year our temperature was around 45 degrees and for a few months were well below minus …

      Like

  2. What a woman! I saw your post last night before going to bed and saved it to read it properly during the day.

    Such a beautiful soul and what compelling writing. I read more of her poems online this morning. Totally in awe of her writing.

    Isn’t her poetry taught in schools there?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I commented to another Aussie that we haven’t learnt about these women, only learnt a little about Dorothea MacKellar and english poets .. our education system needs an overhaul!

      Like

  3. Beautifully profound with an undertow of emotion ..loved these superb stanzas ..

    “Frail bridges cross from eye
    to eye, from flesh to flesh,
    from word to word: the net
    is gapped at every mesh,”

    “O dark and fierce day:
    the wind like an angry bee
    hunts for the black honey
    in the pits of the hollow sea.”

    Her word imagery has a distinctive touch 😊🌏

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you, SweetKate, for introducing me to Judith Wright! A woman who helped to change the world in such positive ways! I’m honored to read her poems…and a better person for doing so!
    There is such truth, power, emotion, and vivid word-pics in her poems!
    I shall click on the link to learn more about her.
    (((HUGS))) 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

      • I enjoy ANY you share! I’ve always enjoyed reading biographies and memoirs…and researching people, like artists, authors, etc., especially women…for eons that happened through encyclopedias and books…today we have the internet. 🙂
        It’s been a magnificent birthday week and whee-kend and we are STILL celebrating a few more days! 😉 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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