Writing Poetry - Home Sickness

Wild Poetry from a man longing to be home

The writer as he was on MacQuarie Island in 1977
The writer as he was on MacQuarie Island in 1977

Writing Poetry: Home Sickness whilst in The Sealers Inn

Writing poems can become a habit. It became that way for me...a habit which became quite intense for a year or so. But to explain:

In the long, cold dark winter of 1977 the writer, along with nineteen others was on MacQuarie Island. Morale plummets as the days grow shorter and shorter and it seems that the warm rays of the summer sun will never shine again. At these times a melancholia can creep over one, and this is when the poets - and of the twenty winterers we had half-a-dozen - come to the fore.

After writing poems, light-hearted or serious, we post them upon a messroom notice board for all to see. Here are some of the wild poetry I wrote.

Reveries at the Sealers' Inn

So this is me; this is how far I’ve come.

But what’s it all about? Will I ever know?

The cabin’s silent, but for the ticking of the clock,

And the wind that howls outside;

The ticks mark off the seconds, of a life half spent,

On what? For what?

And will these questions ‘ere remain?

Will death provide an answer?

Questions, questions, and life goes on,

Measured by the heart-beat of the clock;

And the wind that comes from nowhere to go to nowhere

-Like the human souls that scurry through my life.

Measured by the heart-beat of the clock;

And the wind that comes from nowhere to go to nowhere

-Like the human souls that scurry through my life.

The dance of the penguins

King Penguins, the second largest in the world after Antarctica's Emperors.
King Penguins, the second largest in the world after Antarctica's Emperors.

Timeless Island

Bleak, the coamers hiss on stormy shore;

Wave-torn, wind-worn, the cliffs reverbrate protesting grunts

Of seals, cries of gulls, trumpeting penguins, beaks raised

In unison against intruder Man.

Oblivious, self-centred, from ship he comes to build his

Vulgar home, scraping and grinding the muddy loam of low-flung

Isthmus’ gravelly beach, he leaves his mark in dwellings

Crude and stark, and for four seasons stays - watching

the progress of his days.

Summer: and skuas reel sharp-eyed in air that’s never still.

Autumn: the tussock shrugs island nervous skin ‘neath biting rain.

Winter: and howling ice ‘neath torn and ragged grey, whitens

The dark, short, sunless days.

Spring: and now the calm of seas that glisten in slanting rays,

Fingers of rock, that have ripped a score of keels, jut kelp-haired

Nails through crinkly cape of water cold.

The day is old, the year is old and near to death.

Summer; Autumn; Winter; Spring – and Summer again.

And a restlessness bestirs the men: a ship is sailing south!

Gone now the morbid thought of a year misspent;

The heart beats hopefully- excitedly – ecstatically!

For soon he will be home.

A cycle; circuit of the sun, and Man leaves for milder clime.

And behind him, through Autumn, Winter, Summer, Spring, the

Timeless Island goes on, and on, and on…

Wild Poetry from a man who longed to be home

On MacQuarie there are an estimated 3,000,000 penguins

Here are just some of them.  The King Penguin rookery at Lusitania Bay
Here are just some of them. The King Penguin rookery at Lusitania Bay

MacQuarie Island and the Seventy-seveners - Intrepid to the core

The Seventy-seveners

They were landed from the Nella Dan t'wards the closing of the year

Eighteen men and two women, along with all their gear.

They roared ashore in Army LARCs, a 'drivin' through the surf,

Wearing wind-proofs and cold-wet boots they reached MacQuarie's earth.

It was then that they did look around, minds once boggled now did think,

"Well here it is: home for a bloddy year - but what's that awful stink?

T'was elephants that made those smells, with grunts and farts so crude,

Elephant seals, so fat and round, determined to be rude.

But our Intrepids weren't put off by such vulgarity as this,

But seals' wallows are so abhorrent, with all that slime and piss.

The 'Pengies' caught their fancy, with their black and white so neat;

They'd waddle along like well-dressed men a strollin' down Mainstreet.

And then there were the Skuas, sharp-eyed, voracious flyers,

That had stomachs of cast-iron and beaks that gripped like plyers.

It was rumoured that these horrid birds were not safe to be around:

The'd have your eyes out of your head should you fall to the ground.

But most of all, what did impress was the island, stark and bleak;

To think of one long year spent here, it'd make your knees go weak.

They were all about to turn for home, not stay here for a year,

When three huge crates were brought ashore, a chock-a-block full o' beer.

Straight away a change of heart, and with a joyful wail,

"Every night, every bloddy night!" they could

drink their fill of 'tinnies' plus the home-brew ale.

So they're staying on a MacQuarie until the grog runs dryu,

When the Nella Dan will remove them to beneath another sky.

Macquarie Island's northern most point, the isthmus in the foreground

A bleak, sunless place throught most of winter, a welcome shaft of sunlight pokes through the interminable cloud cover.  On Macquarie there is,on average,  rain, sleet or snow for 340 days of the  year.
A bleak, sunless place throught most of winter, a welcome shaft of sunlight pokes through the interminable cloud cover. On Macquarie there is,on average, rain, sleet or snow for 340 days of the year.

Writing Poetry is really channeling something greater than the intellect

Writing poems...I hope you enjoyed these three. The limerick comes easily, it is simply a matter of a good vocabulary and the matching of words. The serious stuff... Well that's something else again. I hope you enjoyed Writing Poetry - Home Sickness.

Be happy.

Tom.

The base camp lies to the northern end of the island

Set on a narrow isthmus, the highest point being only around 30 feet above mean sea level, buildings are subjected to atrocious weather and salt spray the year long, making it necessary for regular replacement of anything made of metal.
Set on a narrow isthmus, the highest point being only around 30 feet above mean sea level, buildings are subjected to atrocious weather and salt spray the year long, making it necessary for regular replacement of anything made of metal.

1 comment

Hi 4 years ago

hi,this is ok!

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