Australian Blue

Aus­tralian Blue

Cen­tre coun­try scene:

A thou­sand miles of desert,
Ten thou­sand miles of shim­mer­ing heat.
In and out the Dead Heart,
Only one great vast­ness;
Up and down the Dia­man­tina,
Sand tor­rents stopped and stilled.

Hills dance like rain­bow ser­pents,
Mirages race like shad­owed giants,
Try­ing to vie with the sun in their reach.
A wild eye is needed
To view this wilder­ness decked with blue
In all its unfor­giv­ing beauty.

Thor (cheer­fully rip­ping off Mao Zedong, “Snow”)
April 2008

Below is a trans­la­tion of Mao Zedong’s own poem. Mao had some lit­er­ary tal­ent, which like every­thing else he turned to polit­i­cal ends. Unfor­tu­nately he had no tal­ent at all for eco­nom­ics, engi­neer­ing, sci­ence or even admin­is­tra­tion, and the Chi­nese peo­ple paid dearly for these defi­cien­cies. Here we can dis­re­gard the his­tory and pol­i­tics for a moment. His poem, Snow, does have a strange res­o­nance with Australia’s bleak beauty ….

Snow (extract)

poet: Mao Zedong; trans­lated by Jock Hoe

North coun­try scene:
A thou­sand miles locked in ice,
Ten thou­sand miles of whirling snow.
In an out the Great Wall,
Only one great vast­ness;
Up and down the Yel­low River,
Tor­rents stopped and stilled.
Hills dance like sil­ver ser­pents,
Plateaux race like wax-coloured ele­phants,
Try­ing to vie with God in their height.
A clear day is needed
To view this white­ness decked in red
In all its incom­pa­ra­ble beauty.

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