Poems from Africa by Ken Taylor

Ken Taylor is a celebrated Australian poet with two volumes of published poems: At Valentines (1975) and Africa (2000). In 2000 he was awarded the New South Wales Premier’s Award for Poetry, the Kenneth Slessor Medal. His first poems were published in the USA in the mid-1960s.

In 1969 Ken founded the Natural History Unit of Australia, first with radio talks and documentaries, then the film series, Bush Quest with Robin Hill and the award-winning series Wild Australia.

Ken was a member of the board of the Council of Adult Education of Victoria 1992−1997. He lives at Mt Macedon, Victoria, where he is currently writing, drawing and painting.

Now Hear the Hollow Hills

Now hear the hollow hills,
now walk on shards,
hear the death of colour,
watch white birds hawk the
blackened plains.

Sit among stones,
sing summer songs of dust
and ashes,
and let the lessons begin.

Tears or death?
… then let your tears
form floods within the dark
divisions of a moon-mad sea.

Winds shall stamp
their will
on such a sea
and shriek
and blow great mountains
into mist and
spiral drifts
of time
at the edge
of all the worlds.

And time can lose its way,
dilate and drift in
the sweep and suck of
space and search for shape
in wedges, cockles, spiral
cones and cowries,
become a wave and leave this
shoreline trace where you
have brought me.

The only gift
is time,
early seas,
the flutter of
land birds and that
particular silence as
colour seeps into the
edges of a washed out

prick the surface
of an indigo
and flying fish,
bright as your tears,
as all tears,
thrown up from the sea as
handfuls of silver
click against a clear
blue sky.

Clocks start again.
There will be seasons,
the smell of earth,
so many flowers to
beguile the world.


salt &
every morning flower,

bone &
belly &
like the blind circle
of secret desire,
like the dance
of broken oceans,

like rain,

you teach me


All I give you this day
comes apart in my hands
and breaks
as this wave breaks
on hidden slopes of sand
and stone
and spreads in skeins of foam
to be lost

But I shall be constant
as the waves and
this gift of my heart
will form
and form again
beside you
and say,
as the surf says to the shore:
I make you.
You make me.
It will always be thus.


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