Archive for October, 2009

Defoe-daniel Daniel Defoe (1659 – 1731) is best known for writing Robinson Crusoe. He was also a satirist and he was put in stocks and had vegetables thrown at him for ridiculing the Tories, a conservative, pro-monarchy party of the time. The wooden stocks were called a pillory and, even to this day, ‘pillorying’ is a term used to describe mocking or abusing someone. Defoe earnt his place in the real pillory for writing a poem: The True-Born Englishman. Andrew Sullivan, The Atlantic, (See entry below) included extracts of Defoe’s poem in a recent article. Even today, the words ring true.

A true-born Englishman’s a contradiction

 In speech an irony, in fact a fiction

The Scot, Pict, Briton, Roman, Dane, submit,

And with the English-Saxon all unite …britian image

Fate jumbled them together, God knows how;

Whate’er they were, they’re true-born English now …

Since scarce one family is left alive,

Which does not from some foreigner derive.

by Daniel Defoe

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Andrew Sullivan 1

Poempig is always delighted to find an embedded poem in a newspaper article. They are, indeed, rare but worth the search. 

  Andrew Sullivan writes on business, politics and food for The Altlantic.  His article titled ‘Americans don’t know how black they are'( The Australian 27 Oct 2009) and also ‘Scratch white America and beneath it is black’ ( The Sunday Times, UK, on 25th Oct 2009) was not only a clear headed critique of race relations, it was a secular sermon laced with poetic phrases that brought beauty and charm and dignity to the issue of race.  His words didn’t just inform, they sang from the heart. 

These varied roots, these mongrel evolutions,

this hybrid inheritance

make us who we are.crowd zzzed

And it is this mixture

that is authentically American,

just as the wave after wave of immigration,

ancient and modern,

has made Britain Britain.

It is a pied kind of beauty, this diversity.

And those who wish to simplify it,

to reduce it to some biological or racial element

that renders us something other than we actually are,

are not in any way conservatives. 

They are fantasists and bigots,

deaf to the music true nations make,

and the many variations that still make their melodies soar.

Andrew Sullivan


Books by Andrew Sullivan include HE CONSERVATIVE SOUL: HOW WE LOST IT, HOW TO GET IT BACK and SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: PRO AND CON. Books are available at Amazon.

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This poem by Zoe Deleuil captures a rare moment of intimacy in a relationship made distant by the generations and then made intense again by a simple act. The power of the poem also lies in its simplicity. 

Sometimes, not enough,

I’d really look at you

and say: Let me clean your glasses.

You’d take them off.

Blink. Hand them over.

Pull out a folded handkerchief

from your trouser pocketglasses

and give that up, too.


It’s always the edges that get blurry.

I’d work on those the longest, teasing out

flecks of leaf and breakfast smudges and wattle pollen

until the glass was clear. Like making them new

again. You’d put them on – just as slowly

as you took them off – look around

at your familiar world and say:

There’s no doubt about you.

by Zoe Deleuil

zoe-deleuil-2 Zoe Deleuil grew up in Perth, Australia, studied Communications at Murdoch University, and now works in London as a sub editor and features writer. #mce_temp_url#

Her first novel is, She Left, You Came, a teenage love story set in Western Australia. This poem first appeared on the Cordite Website: #mce_temp_url#

B & W pic: Accent on Eclectic’s Photostream: #mce_temp_url#

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This poem of Melinda Smith’s sets the two-faced coin of motherhood spinning. How it lands today or any day you do not know. Will you see the face of love or the flip-side, loss?  To give birth is to experience a joyous connection with the miracle of life. Yet to give birth is also to face an ocean of uncertainty. While motherhood is often presented as a flowery, sickly sweet confection the images and rhythm of this poem pounds home the uncertainty.


Wave after wave, the ocean counts the cost
by piling sheets of water on the sand.
I dreamt before your birth that you were lost.
I think I have begun to understand.

By piling sheets of water on the sand
the sea offers its body, slice by slice.
I think I have begun to understand.
I love you knowing sorrow is the price.

The sea offers its body, slice by slice,
heaving itself onto an empty beach.
I love you knowing sorrow is the price.
I start a task whose end I’ll never reach.

Heaving itself onto an empty beach,
the sea still finds the energy to give.
I start a task whose end I’ll never reach.
I give you life, not knowing how you’ll live.

The sea still finds the energy to give.
I dreamt before your birth that you were lost.
I give you life, not knowing how you’ll live.
Wave after wave, the ocean counts the cost.


Melinda Smith

Photo of Melinda SmithPrize winning poet Melinda Smith is a widely published ACT poet. Her poems have appeared in Quadrant and The Canberra Times. This poem comes from her book Mapless in Underland , Ginninderra Press #mce_temp_url#

You can read more of Melinda’s poems on her  mull and fiddle blog#mce_temp_url#

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tinnitus 2

We stumble on poetry everyday. The problem is we just don’t know it. It is a great joy to find an embedded poem in a newspaper article.

This article, Shattered ( The Age, Good Weekend 3rd october 2009  ) by Will Storr provides  an extraordinary insight into dealing with tinnitus (More Info @ Australian Tinnitus Assoc ).  It also contains an embedded poem which screeches with an unrelenting pitch ‘This is what it is like to be human.’

Repetition is the soul of pop …

….it induces a strange and magical hypnotism

Through which the sound and hurt become indistinguishable.

The music meshes with the pain and then lifts it from you;tinitis Correction

It takes its weight.


In some essential way, the song becomes you.

And the louder the volume, the greater the effect…..

… the most efficient tool for

hammering the heart back together was the decibel.


 Today, like a de-tuned radio picking up

the distant echo of the big bang,

I can still hear the noise of all that dead love.


…I think it only right and proper that

it sounds like a scream.

Will StorrWill Storr

Will Storr is an award-winning journalist and critically acclaimed author. His work has appeared in The Times, The Observer, The Daily Telegraph, The Observer, The Independent, The Sunday Times, GQ, The Sydney Morning Herald (Good Weekend), The Weekend Australian and Vanity Fair. 

More information @ Will Storr’s website

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