Muir Holburn - Selected Poems

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To this south east point no tourist has ever been hustled in limousine or charabanc;

Nor does the journalist dart here to interpret the latest in sexual manoeuvres for the envious shires.

The stars never arrive in mufti: they do not fear a mob at the tram stop, for

O they come by tram. The taxi driver is greedy, and rarely rightly inquisitive or obsequious.


The neighbourhood is not xframed for its fruits, turf, chauffeurs, barbecues or clover leaf bathing ponds;

Nor is there an arsenal of artificial villages hungrily torn out of history.

There are only artificial artificial villages, fag-ends of coastal cities,

Together with snuggled palaces of no particular present and suited to no endurable climate.


The ‘gaps’ are filled in with regulation shots. Here great ‘strides have been made. See now the rich man’s sheep,

The rich man’s slagheaps, cranes and private railways, his upholstered homestead–

A miraculous growth from the original humpy which no one has ever really believed in.

But for the sake of the thing, admire the processes, the architectural cytoclesi!


Over the usual array of boomerangs, the nullah nullahs and sumptuous sunsets you may be a little extravagant, also

Over this heritage of an impossible father, a sly son who studies agriculture and sets things to rights after some friction,

The willowy mother and the horsey daughter in jodhpurs. She plays polo and life like a man. She is

Certain to drive an ambulance during the regularly recurring war that keeps us exercised and racially healthy.


Much later she will minister her virile first aid to angels spiritually wounded in boarder clashes with Satanic guerillas.

In the middle of the scale behold the unpleasant ‘Dad’ who comes to town hoping for an opportunity to be vulgar.

His exhausted and cunningly wrinkled wife, his son in eternal pubescence, plus

The lousy girl from the city who knows all the wrong answers, and sits on the ready-cut sliprails, her two legs dangling in the 1,000 watt. moonlight.


Do not let us forget the detachment of matey and cynical swaggies, asphyxiated by the stale gas of their outback humour

And grown on the state-owned leases. Their billies are supplied on contract and blackened by a jealously guarded process.

Their blueys expertly stitched, expertly unstitched at the right places by a seamstress with a gruff voice,

The result accurately dirtied with locally cultivated and accurate dirt.


See the architects how they agree. They dream not, neither do they invent.

O bungalow, you arrow in my eye, with your venomous eventual sameness!

Your verandahs of the right dreariness, your gardens of the approved scrubbiness,

Your kitchens of the right cleanliness and brightness, your out-house of the approved bawdiness!


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From this south east point goes forth the enormous and profane rumour

The malodorous plot, the mothy topography, the eld-laid anecdotage.

On this meagre framework is constructed the vast and furry generalisation.

No wonder the Jewess from the Danube is disdainful, the American is puzzled, and the snob is mournfully conducted to the municipal incinerator.


No wonder the steamship passage is dramatically cancelled; no wonder no children gambol on the soft North tracts.

No wonder the future cannot be distinguished from the past, nor the present from either.

No wonder the eye does not light up at the intersection. No wonder the shopgirl has a pain and is rude to the petulant customer.

No wonder this is a clients’ country, a lanoline and saltbush country. For we have heard the studio’s farrago. For we have believed it.


Shall it ever be thus that the myth is made, the gesture superintended the vision edited and the axiom embroidered

At the suburban centre where the fantasy is endlessly re-embodied and the door keeper is communicative?

Shall this virus of flatulent crime and diffident passion be for ever more injected into the great and ignorant tenderness?

Dare we perform the avulsion? Have we the skill? Dare we remodel the movement created of fruitful precision, the supplest of knowledge the emergent innocence?







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