Plough My Account Sign Out
My Account
    View Cart

    Subtotal: $

    sunrise over Sidney, New South Wales

    Poem: “South Head, a Wild Surmise”

    By Stephen Edgar

    January 20, 2024
    • Gary Spangler

      Keen observations of life both near and far. His anthropomorphizing of the wrens, and noting their tameness around humans, or indifference, showed the writer’s power of keen observation. The portrayal of Sydney as a faraway realm mirroring the Sun’s rays, coming in and out of focus, reminded me of Oz. Last, his portrayal of wind as a mysterious force of Nature, was powerful, hinting at how precarious our place in Nature can be.

    Climbing the leaf-hung stairway from the beach,
    You step past antique cannon onto a lawn
    With benches and a scattering of wrens.
    Your eyes are drawn
    Across, around the harbour, scanning each
    Headland and cove that bends
    The haze-bedazzled shoreline, till they reach,

    Way off, those glassy towers, the office blocks,
    An apparition out of science fiction,
    As though the city that you travelled through
    Were a prediction,
    Not here and now, a temporal paradox
    Put up to baffle you.
    Then you proceed, up steps cut in the rocks,

    Skirting the pilot’s cottage, to South Head,
    The empty gun emplacements, the lighthouse,
    The cliff face dropping sheer into the sea,
    With its plosive dowse
    Of surge and foam, the wind’s unlimited
    Onrush of nullity,
    Against which you are braced to stand and tread.

    If you should lean and reach out into it,
    Would that arm too be made of emptiness?
    On the way back you come to that bank of lawn
    The wrens possess.
    This time you watch them as they skitter and flit,
    Minutely feeding on
    Skerricks around the bench on which you sit.

    So used to people are they that they treat
    Their passing forms as though they were not there,
    The tiny flying insects you can’t see
    Their only care,
    As they flutter and pounce around your stationed feet
    So unconcernedly.
    Indeed, what is the limit of their petite

    And searching eyes? The harbour you survey,
    Those distant towers that the sun ignites,
    The coloured yachts, may be the merest blur
    Beyond their sight’s
    Brief focus, which dissolves into the day,
    Like the stretched arm you were
    Imagining the wind might make away.

    sunrise over Sidney, New South Wales

    Photograph: Juergen Wallstabe, South Head with Sydney skyline in background.

    Contributed By portrait of Stephen Edgar Stephen Edgar

    Australian-born poet Stephen Edgar studied Classics and librarianship at the University of Tasmania and lived in London, Great Britain, and Hobart, Australia, before settling in Sydney.

    Learn More
    You have ${x} free ${w} remaining. This is your last free article this month. We hope you've enjoyed your free articles. This article is reserved for subscribers.

      Already a subscriber? Sign in

    Try 3 months of unlimited access. Start your FREE TRIAL today. Cancel anytime.

    Start free trial now