'The Grey Parrot' by Judith Bishop

after the painting The grey parrot by Walter Deverell, National Gallery of Victoria

The far city must make itself known
even here in the sitting room and
barred by winter branches. The skyline

with its towers square as pillars
built of blocks could be here
as much as then and there and is

in any case beyond hearing.
Long withdrawn from the city
that oversees life to a home

where rapt stillness is a cultivated
guest and the ghost of light
leavens the chores of daily bread,

she would come to lend her features
to ideas she understood
could be treated most faithfully

in art that generates no
propulsion other than
this same descent into pleasure

gently shared between minds
– those branched apart by
evolution, or merely space and time

Judith Bishop


Judith Bishop won the Peter Porter Poetry Prize in 2006 and 2011.

Published in November 2016, no. 386
Judith Bishop

Judith Bishop

Judith Bishop lives in Melbourne, Australia, and has studied in the United States and Britain. She is Director of Linguistic Services at a multinational language technology company. Her poems have won many awards, including the Peter Porter Poetry Prize (2006, 2011), an American Academy of Poets University prize (2004) and the prestigious Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship (2002-2004). Her translations from French poets (Philippe Jaccottet, Gérard Macé) have appeared in Australian and international journals. Her first book, Event (Salt, 2007), won the FAW Anne Elder award and was shortlisted for the CJ Dennis Prize, the Judith Wright Calanthe Award, and the ASAL Mary Gilmore Prize. She has recently published a second collection, Interval (UQP, 2018).

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