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Personal Choice 40

Rodney Hall

Dark Afternoons She Spent

Dark afternoons she spent

discovering again

old roads, now grassed, that led

from town through miles of bush

to fence and gate now fallen -

decay of family homestead.

Near that tumbled house

lay wreck of statues

(brought from their Welsh estate)

a fountain stump and sundial,

the weathervane still reading


One lantana bush

thick and solitary

outliving pandered rose

and tulip, bloomed malicious

tributes to the home

with desolating poise.

All her memories

of fifty years or more

sank in the land’s routine

and left a wilderness

to crawl where once the gardens

of her heart had been.

She came to accept the fact,

even preferred the ruins

(their death and their seclusion,

the exposure of old loves).

For the mind defends itself

best by disillusion.

Rodney Hall

Rodney Hall (1935 - ) is an Australian writer. Born in England, Hall came to Australia as a child after World War II and studied at the University of Queensland. He began publishing poetry in the 1970s and has since published thirteen novels. He has twice won the Miles Franklin Award.

A wonderful poem so reminiscent of Thomas Hardy, RS Thomas and certainly my own preoccupations in poetry for the past, ruins, memory and dark afternoons.


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