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Cunningham's Gap

Henry Mackenzie Green 1881 (Sydney) – 1962



As I came over Cunningham's Gap
a skin of time peeled off the map
The fern's green ocean overflowed
the hard black surface of the road
and lapped the wheel rims of the dray
and the sweating bullocks where they lay,
and washed the car out of today.
A cloud of cockatoos, snow on the hill
shrieked out of distance and were still.
Cedar, sassafras, bunya pine,
stinging nettle and lawyer-vine
baffled my passage and blocked my sight
as I swarmed the hummocks and climbed the height.
But long months' labour through wood and waste
dropped from my bones as I gazed at last.
round to round, to the rim of the sun,
on a world of richness not yet won;
broad fat pastures and rolling downs,
Wheat fields and Orchards, farms and towns,
ghosts of the future surged at the gate
of time and being and would not wait.
As I shouted in triumph, the Darling Downs
leapt into life with farms and towns;
Wheat field and orchards, flocks and herds,
grass to the bellies, woke at my words.
the cloud of cockatoos, snow on the hill,
shrieked out of distance and were still,
and the skin of time crept over the map
as I started my car in Cunningham's Gap.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Henry Mackenzie Green

Henry Mackenzie Green was a journalist, librarian and literary historian born in Sydney. He is the great grandfather of authors John Green and Hank Green. In 1921 Green succeeded John Le Gay Brereton as librarian at the University of Sydney. In 1944 he married Dorothy Auchterlonie. His An Outline of Australian Literature was published in 1930 and Australian Literature 1900–1950 was published in 1951. His two-volume A History of Australian Literature Pure and Applied was first published by Angus & Robertson in 1961. It was reprinted, with corrections, in 1962. It was reprinted again in 1966, 1968, 1971 and 1974. A revised edition appeared in 1984. more…

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