Sunset

The view from my window last night was worth noting.

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I sought a poem to go with that and did find quite a few, even when I restricted myself to Aussie poems. The following is a rather conventional piece of late Victoriana:

Sunset

by Louisa Lawson

I love at eve to wander
Alone among the hills,
While Nature and her myst’ries
My soul with wonder fills.

Like a great monarch lying
In crimson down to rest.
The golden sun in splendour
Sinks in the solemn west

His grandeur awes and thrills me,
I kneel upon the sod,
Bow down my head and worship
His mighty Maker, God.

From book: The Lonely Crossing And Other Poems 1905

Louisa Lawson was a truly remarkable woman – mother, of course of the better-known writer Henry Lawson

Born Louisa Albury on 17 February 1848 at Guntawang, near Gulgong, New South Wales, Louisa Lawson was the second of the twelve children of Henry Albury, a station-hand, and his wife Harriet (ne Winn), needlewoman. About 1851 the family moved to Mudgee, when Henry Albury set up as a building contractor. Louisa was educated at the Mudgee National School, where the schoolmaster offered to train her as a teacher. This was refused by Harriet Albury, who instead required Louisa to assist her in childrearing and millinery work. Henry Alburys contracting business collapsed around 1862, and the family was forced to take up a bush selection, where they lived in poverty…

Between 1867 and 1877 Louisa bore five children, and also took on various jobs to earn money for the family. She quickly became disenchanted with married life, as her husband was frequently absent and responsibility for raising the family fell on her. A move to Gulgong to join a new goldrush in 1871 ended in failure and in 1873 the family returned to Eurunderee. Despite the hardships of bush life Lawson took a keen interest in her childrens education, and kept up her own reading and writing. She was deeply affected by the death of her infant daughter Annette in 1877, her first known published poem My Nettie appearing in the Mudgee Independent in 1878. In early 1883, Louisa Lawson left Eurunderee and her husband taking her children to Sydney.

In Sydney Lawson devoted her restless energy to a range of endeavours. As Peter Lawson sent money infrequently, Louisa was forced to earn money by taking in laundry and sewing and letting rooms to boarders. She was also deeply interested in the cultural and political life of the city, and in 1887 acquired a small press and commenced publication of a radical democratic and nationalist journal, The Republican, editing the work under the pseudonym Archie Lawson. In May 1888, the Republican was replaced by The Dawn, a feminist monthly journal which helped pioneer the cause of womens suffrage and social reform in 1890s Australia. Much of the content of the Dawn was written by Louisa Lawson herself…

Do read the rest!

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And then I found Canadian-Chinese poet Kim Fu.

The Trouble With Sunsets

“It was like finding yourself in a great library as a young writer, and gazing around at the thousands of books in it, and wondering if you really have anything to add.”

– Margaret Atwood, Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing

Avoid clichés. This is one of the first pieces of advice any writer will receive. Refrain from common expressions and dead metaphors. Aim higher than familiar plots and stereotypical characters. Give us new insights and experiences, new ways of seeing the world. Be completely, wholly, utterly original…

My poem in Alive at the Center is titled “Paris at Dusk,” an impossible topic. At some point in history, I thought, a moratorium had been declared: There are enough poems about sunsets. No one is allowed to write any more. Rather than skirt the issue, I decided to confront it. Sunsets became desperate starlets–pretty, talented, but ultimately dime-a-dozen, lost on jaded directors in the endless herds at auditions. (This, too, has something of the editor’s experience in it, of going through the slush pile and asking yourself how many more breakup poems you could possibly read.)

They parade past, one by one,

wearing red zebra-print dresses,

hats with iridescent feathers,

pink leg warmers that bunch

unflatteringly around the calf.

I once went broke to fly to Paris with a man I’d only known for a few months, in the dead of winter. Of the many versions of Paris, we stumbled through the ridiculously lovely one: idle afternoons of champagne and espresso, long walks through frozen, enchanted streets. From the Jardin des Tuileries, we watched the last light burst at the horizon,

held hands. On the wind,

veal bones stewed to melt, cigars,

butter like solace.

We were married two years later….