Australian High Commission

A Year of Australian Poetry in ASEAN

During 2019 as the Australian seasons change, Australia's New Colombo Plan scholars who are currently studying in ASEAN countries will introduce one  Australian poem each month to align with that time of year back home. You can follow this campaign on our Facebook page. 

The Australian High Commission in Singapore is delighted to present our poems for this year. A link to each poem, as they are introduced via our Facebook page, will be added below. 


Mango Weather by Thomas Shapcott 


February Storms by Mark O'Connor


March by Les Murray


Canberra in April by John Rowland

Vast mild melancholy splendid
Day succeeds day in august chairmanship
Presiding over autumn. Poplars in valleys
Unwavering candleflames, balance over candid 
Rough-linen fields, against a screen of hills

Sending invisible smokes from far below
To those majestic nostrls. A Tuscan landscape
On a larger scale; for olives eucalypts
In drifts and dots on hillheads, magpie and crow
For field-birds, light less intimate, long slopes stripped

Bare of vine or village, the human imprint
Scarcely apparent; distances immense
And glowing at the im, as if the land
Were floating, like the round leaf of a water-plant
In a bright meniscus. Opposite, near at hand, 

Outcrops of redbrick houses, northern trees
In costume, office-buildings
Like quartz-blocks flashing many-crystalled window
Across the air. Oblivious, on their knees,
Of time and setting, admirals pick tomatoes
In their back gardens, hearty
Bankers exchange golf-scores, civil servants
Their after-office beers; the colony
Of diplomats prepares its cocktail parties
And politicians their escape to Melbourne.

This clean suburbia, house-proud but servantless
Is host to a multitude of children
Nightly conceived, born daily, riding bikes, 
Requiring play-centres, schools and Progress
Associations: in cardigans and slacks

Their mothers polish kitchens, or in silk
White gloves and tight hats pour eachother tea
In their best china, canvassing the merits
Of rival plumbers, grocers, Bega milk
And the cost of oil-fired heating or briquettes.

To every man his car, his wife's on Thursday
Plus one half-day she drops him at the office
(Air murmurous with typewriiters) at eight-forty 
To pick him up for lunch at home; one-thirty
Sees the streets gorged with his return to duty

And so the year revolves; fires swell, are closed
And stored in basements, Parliaments adjourn
And reassemble, speeches are made and hooted. 
Within the circle of the enfranchised
These invite those and are themselves invited,

At formal dinners, misprints of the Times
Compete with anecdotes of Rome or Paris
For after all, the capital is here.
The general populace sprays its roses, limes
Its vegetable patch and drinks its beer:

Golf at the weekend, gardening after five,
Indoor bowling, TV day and night
Lunchtime softball, shopping late on Friday -
As under glass the pattern of the hive
Swarms in its channels, purposeful and tidy,

Tempting romantics to dismay and spite,
Planners to satisfaction, both to heresy.
For everywhere, beyond the decent lawn
A visionary landscape wings the sight
And every child is rebel and unknown.

So long as daylight moon, night laced with stars
And luminous distance feed imagination
There's hope of strangenessto transcend, redeem
Purblind provincial comfort: summer fires
Under prodigious smokes, imperious storms,

A sense of the pale curving continent
That, though a cliche, may still work unseen
And, with its script of white-limbed trees, impart
A cure for habit, some beneficient simplicity or
Steadiness of heart.  


May by John Shaw Neilson


In Winter Night by Robert Adamson


The away bound train by Les Murray


August by David Campbell


The Homestead by Geoff Page


October Snow by Geoff Page


Heading South through the Long Paddock by John Kinsella


Xmas in the bush by Anna Couani