February 2006

This is one of my favourite poems by an Australian poet. It was published in 1969 by Angus & Robertson in Randolph Stow’s Selected Poems—such a great title for a Selected—A Counterfeit Silence. Maybe it’s not one of Stow’s best poems but I love its bravado, and there’s something in its tone that reminds me of some Rimbaud’s lighter moments.


And indeed I shall anchor, one day—some summer morning
of sunflowers and bougainvillaea and arid wind—
and smoking a black cigar, one hand on the mast,
turn, and unlade my eyes of all their cargo;
and the parrot will speed from my shoulder, and white yachts glide
welcoming out from the shore on the turquoise tide.

And when they ask me where I have been, I shall say
I do not remember.

And when they ask me what I have seen, I shall say
I remember nothing.

And if they should ever tempt me to speak again,
I shall smile, and refrain.

~ Randolph Stow