Accessibility Tools

  • Content scaling 100%
  • Font size 100%
  • Line height 100%
  • Letter spacing 100%

So close and yet so far

Reading Australia across the Pacific
March 2009, no. 309

So close and yet so far

Reading Australia across the Pacific
March 2009, no. 309

Traditionally, there has been an almost physical force, like a law of gravitation, making Australian literature’s visibility in the United States an elusive phenomenon. This is not, contrary to received opinion, because Australian literature did not meet world standards. It is hard to conceive of Christopher Brennan, Joseph Furphy, and John Shaw Neilson not meeting ‘world standards’. What does this mean, anyway? It seems to indicate not just that the work is of merit but that it is aware of wider literary and cultural conversations. Brennan and Furphy’s overt intertextualities show their enmeshment with global literary developments. Neilson’s cosmopolitanism, as Helen Hewson has shown, is there, but is admittedly more difficult to discern. Yet Neilson’s poetry makes demands that show that pure poetry can be as indicative of sophistication as heavily allusive verse, as in ‘Song Be Delicate’:

Let your voice be delicate.

The bees are home:

All their day’s love is sunken

Safe in the comb.


Let your song be delicate.

Sing no loud hymn:

Death is abroad ... Oh, the black season!

The deep – the dim!

From the New Issue

You May Also Like

Leave a comment

If you are an ABR subscriber, you will need to sign in to post a comment.

If you have forgotten your sign in details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to ABR Comments. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.