Mary Gilmore considered herself fore-mostly as a socialist, then as a poet. She was well travelled, had a son, with a passion to campaign for better rights for our First Nation Peoples and the soldiers returning from world war one. She has the outstanding fame of being featured on our $10 note, strange considering the general attitude towards socialism here.
“Dame Mary Gilmore was a contradictory character. She was an ardent internationalist but a fierce nationalist. She was a staunch socialist who revered the monarchy. She was a pacifist who was convinced that Australia should prevail over its enemies in both World Wars.”
The Dear Old Town
When I first saw the dear old town
Emus went walking up and down,
Or in a doorway poked a head
Asking in hope, a crust of bread.
Wagga was bush in those far days;
What now are streets were trodden ways:
Between the trees, and through the grass,
Where kangaroos walked. sometimes pass-
Houses were slab and roofs were bark,
No windows, then, a child might mark;
But just a shutter thing with hide,
Which sun or wind, or rain defied …
A town I spent interesting time in for college sport and work; this evokes many memories as I lived out west where my small town [Deni] was pretty much just as described in this poem whilst Wagga, the regional centre, seemed a bustling metropolis.
I have grown past hate and bitterness,
I see the world as one;
But though I can no longer hate,
My son is still my son.
All men at God’s round table sit,
and all men must be fed;
But this loaf in my hand,
This loaf is my son’s bread.
Sorry life got busy as we approach the end of a lengthy lockdown, we have not had a single case of covid locally yet!