Wednesday Victorian Poem.

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Bush poets and the advocacy of a white Australian Policy Made the Bulletin. It did not survive the winnowing of the global financial crisis and closed in 2008 after a 118 year run.

In its last years it was another, liberal journal, with writers who had not spent enough time refining their craft, calling it instead an art or a calling. Patterson knew better. He knew what Kipling did

I Keep Six Honest Serving Men

I KEEP six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men.
But different folk have different views;
I know a person small—
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!

She sends’em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes—
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!

Rudyard Kipling, The Elephant’s Child

But we need to not stay in England, and go to an urban poem by Patterson. Not everything he did was from the Outback. This is more reflective, and in my eyes, better.

Behind the Scenes

The actor struts his little hour,
Between the limelight and the band;
The public feel the actor’s power,
Yet nothing do they understand

Of all the touches here and there
That make or mar the actor’s part,
They never see, beneath the glare,
The artist striving after art.

To them it seems a labour slight
Where nought of study intervenes;
You see it in another light
When once you’ve been behind the scenes.

For though the actor at his best
Is, like a poet, born not made,
He still must study with a zest
And practise hard to learn his trade.

So, whether on the actor’s form
The stately robes of Hamlet sit,
Or as Macbeth he rave and storm,
Or plays burlesque to please the pit,

‘Tis each and all a work of art,
That constant care and practice means–
The actor who creates a part
Has done his work behind the scenes.

Banjo Patterson, from The Bulletin, April 8, 1893