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Don't jumble your words: Elegy for Peter Gebhardt



Selected poems


Elegy for Peter Gebhardt

There's refuge in ritual,

For us, lamb's fry and bacon,

cracked vinyl chairs, tough butter,

Osso Bucco and the sun-struck Depot,

slender books brimming

with the intuition of the instant.


Don't jumble your words,

I want to hear your voice.


Belief brings solitary repose,

no more mimicking gallant pens,

poaching pips from wiser minds.

Know the moment, listen and find

the ephemeral and the luminous

born and nurtured in reciprocity.


The gum tree has shallow roots,

blithe cream branches

that wave in the wind,

dropping leaves on the lawn.

— Dougal Hurley



State Theatre

There are those places that hang grimly —

Often very grimly —

On to their past,

But if they do, and when they do,

We are invited by memory

To enjoy the nostalgia

Of simple things, like the usherettes

Or the round orange jaffas rolled down the steps

Or the fabrication of celing stars

And, specially, the Wurlitzer music.

Best of all were the curtains

For when their heavy hanging parted

Lights would go out

For cinematic passion and thrills,

And all the fun of cuddling for some

In a theatre seat,

I watched and wished.

— Peter Gebhardt




A good starting point for Coonawarra cabernet. Sharp, tangy briar and blackcurrant cordial aromas lead into a palate that nicely balances succulent fruit and slightly astringent backbone.

(Screw cap; 14 per cent alcohol.) Ageing? Drink over four years.

Parker Estate's merlot offers savoury varietal personality. Violet, blackcurrant and tapenade aromas introduce a medium-bodied, sustained, dry-?nishing palate, a dab of coconutty oak adding dimension.

(Screw cap; 14.5 per cent alcohol.) Ageing? Drink over four years.

Smelling of red cherries and raspberry jam, along with sappy and earthy touches, this reasonably priced pinot has good varietal identity. It has a juicy, gluggable middle and a slightly ?rm ?nish.

(Screw cap; 13 per cent alcohol.) Ageing? Drink over two years.

Top-notch riesling running a tight line through stone fruit, citrus and ?oral characters, and savoury, spicy notes. Dry, intense and rich, structured, long and ageworthy.

(Screw cap; 12 per cent alcohol.) Ageing? Yes, three to 15 years.

Courtesy 'The Age' (20.6.17)


Across the brown paddock the vines stand,

Small crucifixions stripped and naked.

The grapes have all been gathered

And now they must make the palate

And bouquet of a new language,

Giving a juicy birth to the dictionary of wine-babble,

Words that are aromatic and astringent,

That will make the vocal chords 'gluggable'

In the middle and then at the finish

A dab of 'coconutty' oak with solid dimension

So we may all be well structured and 'Ageworthy'

(the editor would like that).


It's quite a burden the vines have to bear

And the grapes plump-ripe with lexical delights.

— Peter Gebhardt




Dougal HurleyDougal Hurley is a postgraduate law student at Melbourne University.


Peter GebhardtRetired school principal, judge and poet Peter Gebhardt died in July 2017 at the age of 81. His most recent book was Black and White Onyx: New and Selected Poems 1988—2011.

Topic tags: poetry, Dougal Hurley, Peter Gebhardt



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Existing comments

A fitting elegy to a great man. Thank you, Dougal.

Dr Michael Furtado | 12 September 2017  

Eloquent and fitting words from Dougal, Thank you. Peter showed in these that he was of a ripe, mature mind, unfaltingly progressive in his thoughts, analysis and outlook. Thanks to him also.

Tony Kelly | 12 September 2017  

Dougal Hurley, I wish students like you attended MUM in 1960s when I was a mature-age part-time student in the Arts Faculty. I was sometimes invited to symposia at one of the campus Student Residences. There was no wine snobbery there. Chateau Cardboard (The universal nomenclature for that celebrated Australian invention - the paper wine cask) was an inexhaustible source of stupor and jumbled words. I read a paper on A J Ayer's "Logic, Truth and Logic" (Published in 1933).. Despite my earnest defence of Ayer's take on Logical Positivism these Philosophy students in their late teens, early twenties, tore it to shreds. I was later to learn that Ayer thought the work was full of mistakes and better forgotten. In vino est veritas!

Uncle Pat | 14 September 2017  

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