States of Poetry Series Three - ACT | 'Autumn in Acton' by Mark O'Connor

Season of fructose gladness, its sugars mixed
With melancholy for declining life and year.
Now the year turns downwards to the compost tip

Rosella parrots with their sideways treadle-ing claws
Move transverse up the fire-thorn sprays,
Munch golden berries in a slow exultant dance.

But for students in the Acton antipodes the autumn is springtime,
When migrating flocks settle in to fresh campus groves
The newcomers mating and bonding, to raucous musical grunts
And thumps that threaten the ancient roof-ridges
Give their elders the fidgets
Et gaudeamus igit-
ur! In this Academe spring of new units with scarce an exam in sight,
Time when the teachers cut just a little slack,
As they unfold ancient wisdoms
For the briefly young in that old community
Whose anthem is juvenes dum sumus
And aims to chart our human humus.

Soon frosts will crispen till the last leaves crash
Tinkling on the frozen earth. But for me
June’s a white cockatoo, with pale crest of lemon,
perched in a poplar of burning gold
and the dawn mist wisping up like smoke.

Mark O’Connor

Mark O'Connor

Mark O'Connor

Mark O’Connor was born in Melbourne in 1945, and graduated from Melbourne University in 1965. He lives in Canberra. In 1999 he was the Australian National University’s H.C. Coombs Fellow, and thereafter a Visiting Scholar in its Department of Archaeology and Natural History. He has taught English at several universities, has published fifteen books of verse, and won many prizes and awards. His poetry shows a special interest in the natural world. He was Australia’s ‘Olympic poet’ for the Sydney 2000 Games, with a fellowship from the Australia Council for the Arts to ‘report in verse on the Games’. He holds a doctorate in Shakespearian studies, and is the editor of Oxford University Press’ much re-printed Two Centuries of Australian Poetry.

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