POETRY IN AUSTRALIA: From the Ballads to Brennan & Modern Australian Verse by

POETRY IN AUSTRALIA: From the Ballads to Brennan & Modern Australian Verse

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A labor of love, the editing of these two volumes, a gathering of the best Australian verse from its beginnings to the present, but is the object worth it ? Yes, if you want a definitive sample of the Muse's activities Down Under. Not particularly, if you find yourself comparing it (as one is bound inevitably to do) with the English and American equivalents. But perhaps that's unfair; in any case, above and beyond the individual bursts of high quality, purely for representative reasons the undertaking as a whole is important. Naturally, various styles, moods and period-differences predominate, from religious sentiments to nationalist strains, from the personal sonnet and landscape poem to colloquial character sketches. The anonymous folk songs and ballads are almost all uniformly good. ""Banjo"" Patterson of ""Waltzing Matilda"" fame, has two things even better: ""The Man from Snowy River"" and ""The Man from Ironbark, "" full of that rough magic for which Auden might give his eye-tooth. Christopher Brennan's majestic late 19th century meditations are certainly impressive and Mary Gilmore's lyrics have precision and charm. Of the moderns, A.D. Hope is clearly the best- controlled, moving, ironic; while J.R. Rowland's ""Canberra in April"" and the work of Kenneth Slessor, David Campbell, John Manifold, the young Randolph Stow, and especially Judith Wright, has stature and substance. Of course by and large the average Australian modern seems unaware that Hopkins and Yeats, Eliot and Pound, ever existed; that may mean something in Sydney, up yonder it merely makes for datedness. Both books offer splendid introductions.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1965
Publisher: Univ. of California