A Reflection on Lawson's Poems by J. Le Gay Brereton

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Seasons bloom and seasons wither; dark or bright, they cannot last.
Must we try with floods of bitter teas to vivify the past?
Vainly chase the brown and broken blossoms blown along the blast?

Shall we scorn the flowers around us -- red, or blue, or white as snow --
Flowers giving loads of fragrance unto all the winds that blow
Must we hide our eyes and falter: "O, the days of long ago!"

Never stop to look behind you, if the blaze of glory there
Blinds you to the splendour stretching round about and everywhere.
True, the past was pleasant, Lawson, but the present is as fair.

I, too, love the days when heroes, seeking treasure, seaward sped;
Days of Drake, when English sailors followed where their leaders led;
Days when Marlowe trod the glowing clouds, that thundered to his tread.

Even then, though, there were cowards, traitors, swindler, "business men,"
Plot and murder, slave and master, secret sneer, and wounding pen;
And the poets thought the present vile and barren even then.

And their comrades were no better than some modern mates we meet --
Even though they don't go wearing tights and feathers in the street;
And the girls are dear as ever, and their kisses just as sweet.

Sing the present; drop the drivel of the "days evanished," please!
Though you pray until your pants are burst or baggy at the knees,
You can't bid the sun go backward -- no, not even ten degrees.

First published in The Bulletin, 18 January 1896, and later in the same magazine on 29 January 1980.

Author: J. Le Gay Brereton (1871-1933) was born in Sydney in 1871. His father John Le Gay Brereton who was a minor poet, and Bererton appears to have used his first initial in order to differentiate his work from that of his father's.  Brereton graduated from the University of Sydney, he worked in the university's library and was later appointed as professor of English.  He was active in the Sydney literary circles of his time - he was friends with Henry Lawson and Christopher Brennan - and published 6 collectons of his work during his lifetime.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on January 18, 2011 8:41 AM.

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