Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Judith Wright: "Turning Fifty"

A dear friend of mine turned 50 on Sunday. Thinking of her and the significance of the day reminded me of Judith Wright's wonderful poem Turning Fifty.
"Having known war and peace
and loss and finding
I drink my coffee and wait
for the sun to rise.

With kitchen swept, cat fed,
the day still quiet,
I taste my fifty years
here in the cup.

Outside the green birds come
for bread and water.
Their wings wait for the sun
to show their colours.

I'll show my colours too.
Though we've polluted
even this air I breathe
and spoiled green earth;

though, granted life or death,
death's what we're choosing
and though these years we live
scar flesh and mind,

still as the sun comes up
bearing my birthday,
having met time and love
I raise my cup-

dark, bitter, neutral,clean,
sober as morning-
to all I have seen and know-
to this new sun"
In her biography of Judith Wright South of My Days Veronica Brady writes of the weight of experience and passion contained in the poem. Brady suggests that the poem was a sign of the passion which was soon to flare out in Judith Wright's public life once she turned 50. And Veronica Brady writes of the significance of the line "I'll show my colours too", which she suggests reflected, perhaps unconsciously, the direction in which Judith Wright saw her own life heading at that time.

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