Poet lives again in fond mem­oir

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books -

was hop­ing to buy a block on the coast in April 1972, in a pas­toral mode de­scribed ‘‘whip­birds call­ing, strange other feath­ered crea­tures quite un­fright­ened’’ and sug­gested he ‘‘might run up a humpy of drift­wood to camp in’’. It was signed: ‘‘Love & peace & bur­rawangs’’.

Two months later, de­pressed and re­cov­er­ing from a se­ri­ous mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ci­dent, when he was pre­scribed opi­ates for the pain, he wrote in mis­ery from dark­est Dar­linghurst in in­ner Syd­ney. But not long af­ter­wards he was at­tempt­ing to put his life back in or­der. An en­ve­lope came with a re­turn ad­dress at the hos­pi­tal. He said: I wrote 70 po­ems the other day and 20 the day be­fore. In­spired in­deed by my new-met muse, Paula, who is also Virgo & just 23. Stu­dent. We spend our work­ing hours, aching hours, get­ting our­selves through the long days and long nights. V. pleased with new po­ems & love. But he added: Health is re­ally shot (grave lung con­di­tion, cronks and shakes from with­drawal, freak­outs, my bad leg worse). But am pos­i­tive to­wards what­ever fu­ture I have (the doc­tor reck­ons 6 months). PS — this ward is full of young heads & freaks like me & Paula. P & I spend time play­ing all her records from Beethoven to Bob Dy­lan or sit­ting in a wil­low glade on the lake shore but al­ways to­gether.

About a month later, in Novem­ber, de­ter­mined to step back from the abyss, he writes from a farm near the vil­lage of Tharwa in the ACT, cel­e­brat­ing that: “Have writ­ten the first

Paula Keogh with Michael Drans­field from the cover of The Green Bell

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