To celebrate our 75th birthday, we’re presenting exceptional works from Meanjin’s past that have defined and challenged Australian literary culture.
Poet, whose element is fire,
Trade your guitar for a lyre
And let a phoenix stir your bowel
As you set fire to that stuffed fowl.
Left with air, when flames are gone
You can hitch your symbols to a swan,
Although, if black, it may not pass,
And never, if walking on the grass.
You may scoop a dolphin from the sea,
But don’t. It’s really far more easy
To take the sea itself and give
It any, just any, adjective.
The earth itself you must not scorn
For on it stalks the unicorn,
And the unicorn, you know, has a horn
Without which any man looks forlorn.
If outer space is your delight,
Beware the busy satellite,
But utilize the heavenly chorus
Of Ara Celi, Mars and Taurus
If lonely in your lines, don’t get
A team of blokes you might have met
Who’d drink your beer, the dirty sods;
It costs you nothing to shout for gods.
And goddesses, too, whose marble flanks
Are worth a dozen female shanks
That grow black hairs and bulging veins;
A woman suffers labour pains
And screams just when her useful womb
Should quietly rhyme itself with tomb.
Finally, when short of breath,
Pant out one vigorous syllable, death.
Meanjin Volume 17 Issue 1 1958
The full Meanjin archive can be accessed at www.informit.com.au/meanjinbackfiles