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Personal Choice 12

Judith Sewing

The afternoon

crowding upon the windows with much cheerfulness

of blue and slanting gold

will end too soon.

Judith has sewn the collar on a dress

that's excellent though old,

and, with the needle in her idle fingers,

sits and stares,

and out beyond the windows sunlight lingers

softly on a wall of ancient brick, old-red,

and lights the leafless almond-tree with gold.

This might go on for ever.

I might watch her watching the afternoon,

idle and thoughtless; and we both might never

feel the day's death, the chill of evening,

the blue of dusk, and the rising of the moon.

But I will move, and she will turn to me,

and somewhere, suddenly, a bird will sing

and it will end too soon.

Kenneth Mackenzie

Kenneth Mackenzie (1913 – 1955) was an Australian poet and novelist. His first and best-known novel, The Young Desire It (1937), was published under the pen name Seaforth Mackenzie. Mackenzie was born in South Perth. He grew up in Pinjarra, Western Australia, and attended Guildford Grammar School. His experiences at Guildford in part inspired his novel of 1937 The Young Desire It. His novel Dead Men Rising was about the Cowra breakout of which he had firsthand experience, having been stationed there at the time of the event. His life in Sydney included involvement with the world of Norman Lindsay and Hugh McCrae and archival records show significant influence from them. He received a number of literary grants and awards and left a number of works which have been since edited and published. In his later years he was separated from his wife who had moved into Sydney, while he lived in limited conditions in Kurrajong. He died by accidental drowning in Tallong Creek near Goulburn, New South Wales, aged 41.

Time is one of the eternal themes of poetry. Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets explored in exquisite language the same. Here I am not sure any modern poet has quite achieved what Mackenzie has with this theme - one of the greatest of preoccupations in such achingly beautiful poetry.


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