Correggio Jones by Victor J. Daley

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Correggio Jones an artist was
   Of pure Australian race,
But native subjects scorned because
   They were too commonplace.

The Bush with all its secrets grim,
   And solemn mystery,
No fascination had for him:
   He had no eyes to see

The long sad spectral desert-march
   Of brave Explorers dead,
Who perished --- while the burning arch
   Of blue laughed overhead;

The Solitary Man who stares
   At the mirage so fair,
While Death steals on him unawares
   And grasps him by the hair;

The Lonely Tree that sadly stands,
   With no green neighbor nigh,
And stretches forth its bleached, dead hands,
   For pity, to the sky;

The Grey Prospector, weird of dress,
   And wearied overmuch,
Who dies amidst the wilderness --
   With Fortune in his clutch;

The figures of the heroes gone
   Who stood forth undismayed,
And Freedom's Flag shook forth upon
   Eureka's old stockade.

These subjects to Correggio Jones
   No inspiration brought;
He was an ass (in semi-tones)
   And painted --- as he thought.

"In all these things there's no Romance,"
   He muttered, with a sneer;
"They'll never give C. Jones a chance
   To make his genius clear!"

"Grey gums," he cried, "and box-woods pale
   They give my genius cramp --
But let me paint some Knights in Mail,
   Or robbers in a camp.

"Now look at those Old Masters --- they
   Had all the chances fine
With churches dim, and ruins grey,
   And castles on the Rhine,

"And lady grey in minever,
   And hairy-shirted saint,
And Doges in apparel fair --
   And things a man might paint!

"And barons bold and pilgrims pale,
   And battling Knight and King ---
The blood-spots on their golden mail --
   And all that sort of thing!

"Your Raphael and your Angelo
   And Rulwns, and such men,
They simply had a splendid show,
   Give me the same --- and then!"

So speaks Correggio Jones --- yet sees,
   When past is Night's eclipse,
The Dawn come like Harpocrates,
   A rose held to her lips.

The wondrous dawn that is so fair,
   So young and bright and strong,
That e'en the rocks and stones to her
   Sing a Memnonic song.

He will not see that our sky-hue
   Old Italy's outvies,
But still goes yearning for the blue
   Of far Ausoniam skies.

He yet is painting at full bat --
   You'll say, if him you see,
"His body dwells on Gander Flat,"
   His soul's in Italy.

First published in The Bulletin, 11 June 1898;
and later in
Freedom on the Wallaby: Poems of the Australian People edited by Marjorie Pizer, 1953;
Through Australian Eyes: Prose and Poetry for Schools edited by John Colmer and Dorothy Colmer, 1984;
My Country: Australian Poetry and Short Stories, Two Hundred Years edited by Leonie Kramer 1985;
The Penguin Book of Australian Satirical Verse edited by Philip Neilsen, 1986; and
Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature edited by Nicholas Jose, Kerryn Goldsworthy, Anita Heiss, David McCooey, Peter Minter, Nicole Moore and Elizabeth Webby, 2009.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on June 11, 2012 8:27 AM.

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