Poems, Imitations & Translations



[Coptic Papyri]


  1. Papyri: Love-poems & fragments
    from Sappho & elsewhere

  2. Ovid in Otherworld (2006)

  3. The Puppet Oresteia (2008)

  4. The Britney Suite (2003)

  5. 31 Days (2009)

  6. Case Studies (2001)

  7. Flying Blind (2009)

  8. Theme & Variations (2010)

  9. Celanie: Poems & Drawings after Paul Celan (2010-12)

  10. Melbourne Notebook (2011-12)

  11. A Clearer View of the Hinterland (2014)

  12. Poetry Specials (2008-2017)

  13. Collage Poems (1997-2005)

  14. Can Poetry Save the Earth? (2018)

[Bruegel the Elder: The Tower of Babel (1525)]


Can Poetry Save the Earth?

Our Changing World: Yearn to Learn (2018)

Can Poetry Save the Earth?
Our Changing World
Public Lecture Series

Albany Campus, Massey University, Thursday 31st May, 6-7.30 pm

Book and flowers Can poetry save the Earth? 

Thursday 31 May 2018  | Associate Professor Bryan Walpert, Dr Jack Ross, Dr Jo Emeney
Can Poetry Save the Earth? A Field Guide to Nature Poems is the title of poet and critic John Felstiner's 2009 exploration of how the human and natural worlds connect. Can writing and reading poetry change both? It’s a question that resonates with one of the most pressing issues of our time – the impact of climate change. Poets and editors Associate Professor Bryan Walpert, Dr Jack Ross and Dr Jo Emeney, from Massey’s creative writing programme, discuss how imagination and thinking about nature can be opened up through poetry and will read from their own work.

  1. John Clare: The Skylark (1835)

  2. I ♥ NZ (1999)

  3. Family Plot (2015)

  4. v

  5. What to do till the sentinels come (2018)

  6. 1942 (2016)

  7. My Uncle Tommy (2018)

  8. Paul Celan: Matter of Britain (1957)


The Skylark (John Clare)

John Clare (2008)

The Skylark

The rolls and harrows lie at rest beside
The battered road; and spreading far and wide
Above the russet clods, the corn is seen
Sprouting its spiry points of tender green,
Where squats the hare, to terrors wide awake,
Like some brown clod the harrows failed to break.
Opening their golden caskets to the sun,
The buttercups make schoolboys eager run,
To see who shall be first to pluck the prize –
Up from their hurry, see, the skylark flies,
And o'er her half-formed nest, with happy wings
Winnows the air, till in the cloud she sings,
Then hangs a dust-spot in the sunny skies,
And drops, and drops, till in her nest she lies,
Which they unheeded passed – not dreaming then
That birds which flew so high would drop agen
To nests upon the ground, which anything
May come at to destroy. Had they the wing
Like such a bird, themselves would be too proud,
And build on nothing but a passing cloud!
As free from danger as the heavens are free
From pain and toil, there would they build and be,
And sail about the world to scenes unheard
Of and unseen – Oh, were they but a bird!
So think they, while they listen to its song,
And smile and fancy and so pass along;
While its low nest, moist with the dews of morn,
Lies safely, with the leveret, in the corn.


Thomas Bewick: The Skylark (1790)


I ♥ NZ

Mairangi Bay Beach (2012)

I ♥ NZ
– Bumper-sticker

love is not love
which alters when it alteration finds
beach-shelf eroded, Richard III gulls
in paroxysms of unholy rage.

We walked here barefoot
before the tar, swam here before
the sewerage outlet, sand-fought
by that wall.

Today I’m pelted by the wind,
“The Caribbean, boys, in full roar!”
Two kayakers

are dumb enough to try it.
Brown sturdy girls
wade bare-legged through the surf.


  [evasion 1 [Flint 2] (2000): 15]

Carl Barks: The Flying Dutchman. Uncle Scrooge #25 (1959)


Family Plot

My father feeding the seagulls (2011)

Family Plot


I noticed him late last year
as I climbed the back
stairs at work

a beetle
spindly legs upflung
on the first flight down

among the dustbunnies
and detritus
of a busy office

in a while he was joined
by a tiny dead

now every morning
I say hello
and pass the time of day

illimitable spans of air
above him
his ship of eternity

lofty as the sky


d. 1976

d. 18.3.86

d. 23-2-90


d. 30.9.93

d. 5.4.94

d. 31.10.05

written on our back fence


At North Shore Memorial Park
on Schnapper Rock Rd

in Central Div
Bronze 6

Block B
Row H

Plot 17
beside Grandma’s grave

my sister’s ashes
have been joined

by my father’s wooden

we haven’t yet
ordered made

the little plaque
wishing him

quiet sleep
and a sweet dream

when the long trick’s over


John Masefield: Sea Fever (1902)


What to do till the sentinels come

Roy Thomas: Avengers #102 (Marvel Comics, 1972)

What to do till the sentinels come

Yes, astronaut and cosmonaut – report, indeed! Warn, if you can, your half-waking, half-sleeping planet! Tell them, if you can
– Roy Thomas, Avengers #102

So how was Zero?
oh she was fine
did you have any trouble getting in?
no no

when we got home
Zero’s dish was empty
meat left unopened
in the fridge

the thunderstorm
had driven her outside
to cringe
under the garden shed

she had quite a lot to say
when Bronwyn ran out
crying and calling out
her name

it’s not that my mother
neglected her task
on purpose
she’d written in her diary

it’s just that her mind
now fills in blanks
with certainties

not doubts
there was a slight pause
before that “fine”
all I know is our cat

left alone
in the storm
my mother alone
in the fog of her brain


Bronwyn Lloyd: Zero in a paper bag (2009)



Harry Flockton Clarke: June feeding a wallaby (c.1939-40)


The picture is sepia-toned
like the not-too-far-distant war

the need to stay silent at mealtimes
so her father can hear

every radio news report
the need to pose paramount

in the stiff lines of this schoolgirl
reaching out a tentative hand

to the strangest of beasts
in the latter stages of dementia

my father removed her photos
replacing them with snaps

of his militaria
I don’t think she understands

what we see in this picture
the meekness before authority

the gentleness of the pose
the dark fringe of trees

in a faraway world
where my mother

has just been told
to pretend to feed

a wallaby


  [Dianne Firth, Poetry and Place: Catalogue for the Poetry and Place Exhibition, Belconnen Art Centre, 25 August – 17 September 2017 (Canberra: University of Canberra, 2017): 10]

Dianne Firth: Poetry and Place (2017)


My Uncle Tommy

Chatswood, Sydney (1942)

My Uncle Tommy

“In the end they had to put him
in a home

Tommy had grown too heavy
for Dad to carry

Dad worried about it
till he went to visit

tried to hug him
Tommy didn’t know him

was not aware
of where they were

it was my mother
I was sorry for

she thought she was to blame
for having him

my brother shared a room
with him

all night he’d rock
inside his cot

one winter he got sick
and never spoke


could visit us

of Tommy”


  [Paula Green: "Monday Poem." NZ Poetry Shelf: a poetry page with reviews, interviews and other things (7/5/18). Available at:]

Chatswood District Community Hospital


Matter of Britain (after Paul Celan)

Gisèle Celan-Lestrange: Etching (1927-1991)

Matter of Britain

Gorselight, yellow, slopes
against the skyThorn
disinfects your woundsRing
out, it’s eveningNothing
crosses the sea to pray
The bloodred sheet sets sail for you

Arid, dried-out, bed
behind youScar-
embossedmilky inlets
in the vaseDate
stones underneath, furred blue
tufts of forgetfulness
your memory

(Do you know me
hands? I went
by the forked route you showed
me, my mouth spat pebbles, I walked
through snowdrifts, shadow – do you know me?)

Hands, the thorn-
burnt wound rings out
Hands, nothing, the sea
Hands, in the gorse-light
the bloody sheet
sets sail for you

you teach
your teach your hands
you teach your hands, you teach
you teach your hands
to sleep



[“Celanie: 5 Versions from Paul Celan.” brief 41 (2010): 54-59]

Paul Celan