Sharing birthdays

cattle-in-australia

It’s tough as a poet to share a birthday with someone as famous as Edgar Allan Poe (Jan 19th 1809).  Such is the fate of Reginald Charles (Rex) Ingamells (b. 1913).  The leading light of the Australian poetry group known as the Jindyworobak Movement.  They sought to free Australian art from subservience to old world influences and to celebrate the vernacular voices and indigenous inflences that give Australian English it’s unique character.  The movement flourished in the 1930’s and 40’s.  These days it suffers criticism because it was a white movement that celebrated aboriginal and bush life influences.

These days the Australian first nations peoples reject the hijacking of their culture by white immigrants who had a poor understanding of the native zeitgeist.  Effectively the Jindyworobaks are now seen to have been doing to Aboriginal Art the very thing they were fighting against where European writers were seeking to hijack their first hand experience.

I like the poetry of the movement and I think they served an important role in bringing the Australian voice to life.

News of the Sun: by Rex Ingamells

The noon is on the cattle-track;
the air is void of sound,
except where crows, poised burning-black,
cry to the dusty ground.

Through mulga and mirage go none
but brazen Boolee now,
scorning the mercy of the sun
beneath the niggard bough.

But suddenly the mulga stirs;
the hot leaves flash like stars;
and, threading song on wing-beat whirrs,
burst flights of gay galahs.

Pompey Day

Pirates

Sept 29th is undoubtedly Pompey Day.  Pompey the Great (Magnus) was born on Sept 29th 106 BC.  He was murdered on the orders of Ptolemy in Egypt on Sept 28th 48 BC.  In 61 BC on Sept 29th he celebrated his third and final triumph, for his victory against the pirates.  Organising a triumph on his birthday was an indication of the sway held by Pompey in Rome.  At the height of his power he was a man who could not be denied.

This campaign was a phenomenon of the time.  Pompey secured proconsular Imperium over the Mediterranean Sea and all land for 50 miles from the coast.  This put Pompey above every other governor and general in the Roman world.  It made him the most powerful man in the world.

Furthermore, it made him one of the richest men in the world.  The “War against the Pirates” had a lot in common with the current american “War on Terror”.  The “enemy” is a fluid quantity.  Pirate fleets had arrangements with rulers and Roman provincial governors all across the Mediterranean.

Pompey cleaned out some of the most annoying pirate fleets and stabilised trade across the Mare Nostrum.  He then brokered deals with pirate captains and local rulers the length and breadth of the sea.  They became his clients, under his protection, and they paid tribute to him.

So Pompey made a fortune and the people of Rome celebrated him as a war hero.  I wonder if the Bush family studied the classics?

Within 10 years the scourge of piracy was as bad as ever.