This poem is in the 1985 collection Phantom Dwelling, in a section labelled “Poems 1979-1980”. My correspondence with Judith Wright, who supported Neos from Issue 1, began in 1981. We exchanged only a few letters, but I really treasured them. Of “For a Pastoral Family” and the later poems, Ted Kennedy, late and famous Redfern turbulent priest, has written:
Tim Bonyhady, an art historian, asserted (Sydney Morning Herald 15/7/00) that Judith Wright’s poetry suffered in her distraction into activism. I found what he said disappointing, in that nowhere does he credit Judith herself with any opinion at all about the debate over the so-called tension between poetry and her impulse to fight social causes. It appears to me a tribute to the accuracy of her own self awareness that she could accept that her capacity to write poetry could not be divorced from her need to express shame and responsibility regarding Aborigines, and for the destruction of the environment. She saw herself as now “grown up”. In her maturity she developed a real concern for Aborigines and what whites had done to their race. She saw her activism as the expression of the one poetic sensibility where the same sensual passion was at work and all the different levels of concern played the same tune. “It’s communication and memorability that make a good poem. It’s got to be memorable enough to keep it with you,” she said.