Poems for John Clarke



The weather report

(i.m. John Clarke)


It's a bleak, sad day,

The clouds have shrouded laughter,

The sun can only frown sadly to itself.

Malcolm, thankfully, has blown well off-shore,

And Bill is petering out to the east,

While brave Scott is dribbling like a broken tap,

And policeman Pete is freezing in a tent.


It's a bleak, sad, humourless day,

When all there is to hear is a replay.

The lightning is sheet not sharp

And the winds are cold and sodden.

The highs have all become lows

And the mountains are deep in snows.


It's a bleak sad day,

That special voice has been taken away

That voice that saw so much,

Waged war against the witless and their wrongs,

That smothered our lives and hopes

And that voice will still sing his songs.

Which we are free to hear for ages on.


Today was a bleak, sad day,

We remember and rejoice in his wonderful way.




(A.B.C. Radio F.M. 105.9 — 31 December 2016)


It is the eve of the new year

And, of course, we are not sure what blasts

The trumpets will make, but we do know they won't be

Alfred Hill's. It was good in the cool of the morning

The white rabbit chose to jump

From the superior Satie's grand piano

Scattering correspondence, memoirs and memories

Rattling the keyboard of the lower piano.

Sadly we can be sure that the precious spoils

Will reach out and touch fewer and fewer people,

But we are lucky in the cool of the morning

To have and hear that voice that's grown from the feet

Of 'The Lark Ascending', heard the voice

Of Kathleen Ferrier, the human spirit at its height,

And all that shared with the weekly chattering

Of two men in the hope of decent crops

Like 'The Pearl Fishers', and the joy of the disciplines

Of vineyards and oyster farms.


'My name is John Clarke and the embrace of

Civilisations and their makers is a glory to me,

And the trust of the future lies in feasting on the past,

And truly hoping that the broken cities can be mended

Upon the foundations of the bottom hand of "Moonlight Sonata".'


Peter GebhardtPeter Gebhardt is a retired school principal and judge. His most recent book is Black and White Onyx: New and Selected Poems 1988–2011.

Topic tags: Peter Gebhardt, John Clarke



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Existing comments

John Keats, a medical student, while studying with his roommate in St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, said to his co-student, "I have written a line: A BEAUTIFUL THING IS A CONSTANT JOY/ IT WILL LIVE FOREVER. His friend was unenthusiastic. Keats, a little deflated returned to the task and came up with, A THING OF BEAUTY IS A JOY FOREVER/ ITS LOVLINESS INCREASES/ IT WILL NEVER PASS INTO NOTHINGNESS. His friend replied, "Now that will live forever!"
john frawley | 19 April 2017

Thank you for poems that honour John Clarke suitably. I also love the response you have evoked in John Frawley . J. Clarke was certainly ' a thing of beauty'
Patricia Foley | 19 April 2017

His Honour has outshone himself yet again: a touching encomium indeed from a fine Australian poet to a great Australian satirist!
Dr Michael Furtado | 21 April 2017

Spot on, Peter. Dagg was our wittiest. Good to hear from you.
Ian C Smith | 22 April 2017


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