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25 April 2014

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Barbara - He was always known as Uncle Jack to me. I wrote it in his honour a few years back and sent it to him on what was to be his last Anzac Day.

He had come to Sydney to be with and march with his mates, and I sent it to his pub. He read it with a lot of feeling, and thanked me.

Of course it was distilled from many stories of the war he used to tell me when I went to visit with him as a youngster.

I am glad this poem resonated with you Barbara.

God Bless.

Thank you Erasmus, for this lovely poem. I was wondering if this Mandurama boy has a name.

Two of my great grand-parents were early settlers in Carcoar in the 1850s. They and their children, herded the sheep, sold supplies to the miners, mined for gold, repaired the boots of the troopers, cooked in the hotel, supported the Presbyterian Church, and were on the Carcoar Progress Committee. They are buried in the beautiful graveyard on the hill.

I've spent many a happy times there and know many of the locals. I even attended an Anzac Day service there a few years back.

They have a small War museum and some locals who look after it and organise the march each Anzac Day. They even had a pipe band come to lead them when I was there.

Their fallen are well remembered.

THE BOY FROM MANDURAMA

From Carcoar Mandurama and Lyndhurst
Places of fierce loyalties and abiding pride
Forsaking sweet maternal enchantments
Where once your fathers panned’n sang
By the sandy banks of the Belubula, and
Sheared thru dawn by Gilmores Lane, and
Sang Auld Lang Sie till parched they lay.

Out west where the wind in willows wept
Winding rivers over brown plains swept
Legends once born on spring morn’s dew
Fell, wafted away by mid summers gasp
Thru bitter cold starry nights rode, and
Hot dust’n sweaty days drove, till
Only those who lived to recount the days
Told embittered tales in steely silent gazes.

Out west where your fathers lived and loved
Fought natures gods with sticks and stones
Drove till all grass gone by summers curse
Simmered, shriveled- their herds to never’s edge
History’s pages purged of the way they rode
Hard men, lived in mortal gamble, wrote
Only the purest passed for the sons fathered
While others thru natures cruelty faltered.

From afar the call of the Land you heard
Cross sweeping plains and rivers brown
Came, abandoning your only treasure
A young man’s pride and prowess
The glory and splendor of youth
Swelling in excitable exuberance
Your innocence, welling, overflowing
Stay’d only by mother’s prayers, and
Still’d by the sobering hand of fate.

But now as you lay in the heat, still
In this soft sogging mud of Isurava
Oblivious to the bark and spat
Of a thousand guns and more
An eerie silence befalls you
While jungle shudders around you.

Man by day and boy by night
Your thoughts are far away
As each gasp ebbs you low
You long once more to feel
The cool streams of the Belubula
And hear maternal lullabies
That sure hand at the craddle
To rock you away, far, faraway.

Alas! that knowing by the setting sun
Lord! don’t let me die here
In this bloody savage land!
Forsake loves, dreams’n mothers hopes
Lo! those sweet farewells, unfulfilled
And this! This! such an unfair reward!

As the days last rays caress your face
The glory of youth no more
Spent, and soaked in crimson flow
A new song is silently formed
Over the whispers and moans
A priceless sonnet to freedom
Etched in the mist o’er Kokoda.

Gone are the drums of the Brigades,
Echoes of the Colonel’s last command
Voices of company, mates and diggers
For as the Angels hold you aloft
A sweet and tragic offering
High above the sweltering canopy
You take your last breath
And with it your mothers hopes,
The boy from Mandurama.

But in the hearts of many gone before
And many yet to come
Your name will be on our lips
As the sun sets o’er the Stanleys
And then in the morning
We will remember you, still as,
The man from Mandurama.

____________

Written in Singapore, Anzac Day 2014.

Dedicated to the many young men
From country towns of Australia
Who left their mothers and dreams
To fight on the Kokoda campaign
And lost their sweet tender lives
May we in PNG not forget them
And those Angels of our own.

Also author of Anzac poem published in 2013, “The Faceless Soldier”.

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