Fire and Rain from Poet Kate Llewellyn

Kate Llewellyn is a hidden treasure.  I had not read any of her works before today but she is reaching the age of legend status and should be acknowledged for her beautiful poetry now rather than in retrospect.

In ‘Blue Mountains Christmas’ Kate Llewellyn explores the particular delight of summer rain which breaks a dry spell:

Yesterday, smoke from the valley-–

I thought it was mist

until I smelt it-–

and today, each leaf holds water drops,

shining – it rained in the night.

Kate Llewellyn expresses wonder in the capacity of nature for regeneration in the face of disaster, and nature’s opportunism.  In ‘Magpies’ she defines the summer heat and leaving a garden sprinkler on while a bushfire rages:

It had been hot for days,

the garden sprawled-–

hit like a cricketer.

I left a hose on,

hanging in the apple tree,

and went indoors and slept.

Magpies found this fountain

and stalked around.

They made a midsummer opera

and gargled water-–

it became their song.

They sang as if to praise

the fountain in the tree.

While all this was happening

a hundred fires swept the State.

Great trees exploded,

birds and animals caught fire.

People died and houses burnt,

yet still these magpies sang

around the fountain in the tree.

Poet Kate Llewellyn Playing With Water book
‘Playing with Water’ (Pymble NSW HarperCollins 2005) creates a meditation on nature, on community, on the cycle of life. A lyrical memoir that is a celebration of the senses and the seasons.

Australia is the driest inhabited continent on the planet.  It is natural that drought and the regeneration which comes from bushfires and drought-breaking rains are timeless subjects in our poetry and evocatively captured by Kate Llewellyn.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

PROFILE

Kate Llewellyn is an award-winning Australian poet, author, diarist and travel writer.  She is the author of twenty-four books comprising eight of poetry, five of travel, journals, memoir ‘The Dressmaker’s Daughter’, letters and essays.  “Kate Llewellyn is naturally poetic, naturally personal, and uniquely generous with it.” writes Australian Book Review’s South Australian State Editor Peter Goldsworthy.  Further reading Poetry Library.

ABC Radio National transcript:
https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/saturdayextra/kate-llewellyn/3288742

Rain for Christmas Day!

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After months of drought-like conditions it actually rained on Christmas Day!

THE BIRD BATH

by Stephen Whiteside

I’m just a humble bird bath.  I have no tap or drain.

I only ever fill up if we have a fall of rain.

I never have a bar of soap, or bottle of shampoo,

Or sachet of those clever salts that soak you through and through.

I’m never cleaned.  I’m never scrubbed.  There’s lichen on my lip.

I’m gritty and I’m earthy.  I provide a proper grip,

And those that use my services don’t mind that I am old,

Though my water might be cloudy, and its temp’rature quite cold.

They leap.  They splash.  They frolic, throwing spumes high in the air.

They play with great abandon, like they’ve not a single care.

They use me as a wash tub, yes, but choose to drink as well

Of my cool, refreshing water.  They are happy, I can tell.

I’m just a simple bird bath, standing silent in the yard;

Abandoned, half forgotten, but I do not find life hard.

I’m frequently replenished by refreshing falls of rain,

And all my good friends visit me…again…again…again.

© Stephen Whiteside  11.09.2012

Website https://www.stephenwhiteside.com.au/

Poems https://australianchildrenspoetry.com.au/australianpoets/u-z-2/stephen-whiteside/

Photographs Gretchen Bernet-Ward  26.12.2019

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