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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Where have all our Poets gone? Here's Merv Lilley

Merv Lilley is in his Nineties now, a venerable age to attain. He was in a 'home' for a short while but his loving daughter did not like to see him there, so she brought him home to her family. Isn't that wonderful.
Brumby Jones has always been one of my favourite poems by Merv, so I present it to you now - from 'Git Away Back!' (Currency Press, 1983): (reading it now, I can still see and hear Merv reciting it at the Dolphin or the Octagon in the 60s and 70s) ...


Over the sticks and over the stones,
Where will they lay your illiterate bones?
With the brumbies, Brumby Jones.
Where do you come from, Brumby Jones?
Out where the lonely wild wind moans,
Lived in the backblocks, Brumby Jones.

Where is the woman who shared your bread?
Never a woman was in your bed,
Never a breast to cradle your head,
Man of the spirit was always dead.
Out in the sticks and out in the stones
Lived like a warrigal Brumby Jones.

Knew the sound of the warrior cry
When the grass was dead and the creeks run dry;
Only a man can learn to sigh:
Where will they bury you when you die?
Under the sticks and under the stones
There they will lay your illiterate bones,
And a bloody good feller was Brumby Jones!

Perth 1962.

Many years later, somewhat chemically altered, I wrote a poem in black texta on an old weathered white cane chair. Its chorus echoed Merv's poem:

I owe my skin and bones
To a girl called Hilda Jones ...

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