We couldn’t have a #13, could we? In fact if you check “Men in Green” again you will find a revised version. There had been an overlap last week between my role as an English tutor and that poem; I have a coachee, John, who was born in Shanghai in 1995. I had happened to bring an anthology to tuition and he had been given the task at school of finding a ballad or story poem to learn and recite. (I am glad some English classes still do this.) So we settled on “Men in Green” which he rather liked. I gave him a bit of context for it, and last week and yesterday we talked about it — among other things such as vocabulary and grammar exercises. (He has only been speaking English for about three years.)
Yesterday he correctly pointed out that the online version of the poem differed markedly from the one in the anthology, and this is so. I have found that some sites like Poemhunter do have defective versions. Since John still has my anthology — he was reading “Clancy of the Overflow” now — I waited until I got home and looked in Leonie Kramer’s 1985 anthology My Country, and sure enough the version there was the same as the one I had lent John. Now it may be that David Campbell wrote a couple of versions; such things happen. Or it may be — and this is likely — that whoever put it on the Internet got it wrong.
Whatever the case, I have corrected the poem to conform to the print version. (I have done this before to versions of other poems taken from Internet anthologies, but have done so silently.)
One last point. You may be wondering if I know anything about Australian poetry in more recent times, there being an apparent bias in this series so far to older verse. The answer is: yes I do, though I do not follow contemporary verse as closely as I did in the 1980s and early 90s. That is not a comment on the quality of contemporary verse, but on what I am able to access and attend to. There is an obvious reason, however, for my steering clear of contemporary verse, and that is copyright. I have to say, too, that in a small way I am trying to interest people in some poems that may be forgotten or overlooked. Anyway, this is an idiosyncratic collection, not a representative one.
Now to start thinking about Australian poem #14 for next week…