Thursday, November 28, 2019

Poem For A Thursday: Judith Wright (#AusReadingMonth)

The Man Beneath The Tree
Nothing is so far as truth;
nothing is so plain to see.
Look where light has married earth
through the green leaves on the tree.
Nothing is so hard as love--
love for which the wisest weep;
yet the child who never looked
found it easily as his sleep.
Nothing is as strange as love--
love is like a foreign land.
Yet its natives find their way
natural as hand-in-hand. 
Nothing is so bare as truth--
that lean geometry of thought;
but round its poles there congregate
all foliage, flowers and fruits of earth. 
Oh, love and truth and I should meet,
sighed the man beneath the tree;
but where should our acquaintance be?
Between your hat and the soles of your feet,
sang the bird on the top of the tree.

-Judith Wright

I've been reading Judith Wright's Selected Poems: Five Senses a few poems a day for #AusReadingMonth, and quite enjoying it. And since The Other Reader has been berating me for not posting poems, I thought I'd better hop to...  😉

I thought about picking one of her poems more distinctly Australian, but I liked this one.

I've had this book on my shelf for a while now, and while I've dipped into it before, this will be the first time I've read it through. My fellow undergraduate/poetry mentor saw this on a shelf at a used bookstore and told me I ought to read Judith Wright, so I dutifully bought it. Now I'm puzzled why I waited so long.

This volume is a selection made by Judith Wright herself; mine is the second edition (with more poems!) from 1972. She died at the age of 85 in 2000.

Jennifer, the founder of Poem For A Thursday, has a lovely (and amusing! as he so often was) Clive James poem this week, doubly timely because of his recent death and #AusReadingMonth. Brona has another wonderful Australian discovery (for me) by Ali Cobby Eckerman.


  1. I love that line: "Nothing is so bare as truth--that lean geometry of thought;" What a great poem!

    1. It's a beautiful line, and yet, it still requires correction, said the bird on the top of the tree!

  2. We studied Judith Wright at school - she was a standard final year poet during the 80's. An environmentalist before it was trendy to be so and an advocate for Aboriginal rights.

    I remember this poem from back then, the love as a foreign land being something that particularly spoke to me at 17!

    1. I somehow think she's not well-known here, though my college friend, who's fond of more formal poetry, knew all about her.

      It's a nice one: reminding us that love--and truth--aren't so difficult to come by if we don't make it so. But, of course, we so often do... ;-)