Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Stone statues of ancient waves
tongue like dingoes on shore
in time with wave-glitter on the harbor
but the shake-a-leg chants of the Eora

are rarely heard there any more
and the white man who drew their nasals
as footprints on five-lined paper
lies flat away up Pitt Street,lies askew on gravel Pitt Street.

Jumping off startled horses come men
and other men down off the horse-tram
which ladies stay aboard and cram

their knuckles in their teeth, because a
grandson of the last king of Poland
is lying behind the rear wheels,
lying in his blood and his music sheetswhere he missed his step and fell
to be Sydney tramways’ first victim.
Byron’s Hebrew melodist, driven
out of London by Lord Melbourne,

by the inked horns of Lord Melbourne,
is now being lifted tenderly,
he, the Anglican who used
to pray wrapped in a white shawl

is being wrapped in a tarpaulin
and carried in catch-up cadence
with crotchets he might have scored,
carried over streets to his residence

to lie in state on his table:
Our Father and Melech ha-olam,
then to go in a bourdon to Newtown
and sleep near the real Miss Haversham.