Friday, December 28, 2012

I Wish I'd Written This

After hitting you with a heavy one right on Christmas, here's a change of pace — a heart-warmer.

The Creek  
By Nan Doyle

Do you remember when we were young, Tom?
We’d scarper away to the creek,
On Sundays at one, before Church had begun
And the treasures of nature we’d seek.

We knew where the birds had their nests, Tom
We knew where the fish liked to hide
We knew where the maidenhair grew, Tom
And we knew where the bees had a hive.

We used to laugh at the world, Tom
As we merrily hunted for frogs.
We ate lilly pillies and called them wild cherries
And crossed over the creek on a log.

Then we’d go back to the house, Tom
As the clock was striking three.
We had the primeval instinct of kids, Tom
To be home for afternoon tea.

Then the lectures would start, Tom
After the parson had gone,
Our souls must be headed for Hell, Tom,
if wagging church was so wrong.

I remember the day you protested,
In tones begrudgingly meek,
‘If God wants to talk to a bloke, Dad,
Why don’t he come down to the creek?

‘It’s hard to sit still in church, Dad,
When you’re only a boy like me.
We don’t make much noise at the creek, Dad,
And there’s interesting things to see.

‘Why does God live in a church, Dad?
Where an hour seems more like a week?
If God wants to talk yo a bloke, Dad,
He oughta live down at the creek.’

I went there today for a walk, Tom,
And nothing has changed very much.
I sat there and breathed in the peace, Tom,
And memories came back with a rush.

I found something good there today, Tom,
And I’ll give you this secret to keep.
He was there with us all of the time, Tom.
He’s always lived down at the creek.

This is a very famous poem in Australia, although not in literary circles so much as with the general public.  Nan wrote it years ago, and lately rediscovered it and sent it to 'Australia All Over', a Sunday morning radio program hosted by one Ian McNamara and presented from a different part of the country each week. There are chats with the locals, special guests, and an airing of various pieces of Australiana which listeners send in, whether stories, anecdotes, verses or music. It is listened to all over the country, too, an audience of thousands. It's one of the most popular radio programs in this country. Andrew and I used to hear it on the car radio when we were driving to set up our stall at various Sunday markets around our region (always sorry to arrive and have to stop listening; it goes for several hours). Nan's poem was so popular with listeners — I'm sure you can see why — that it has been read on air more than once, and she receives many letters requesting a copy. (She always obliges.) We should all be so lucky as to get this kind of exposure!

Nan doesn't consider herself a poet, really. Mostly she writes short stories, some in series that could be put together as short novels. They are often very funny, and always insightful about human nature. Last year two were highly commended in the annual Stringybark anthology of humorous fiction, and a number of others have been published in various magazines over the years and/or placed in competitions. 

I know Nan through her participation in the WordsFlow Writers' Group.  The link leads to our blog; scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the tag for her name, and click on that to find some more of her writings (and this poem again). She's not mad keen on cyberspace, and she has not yet compiled a book even though the rest of us in the group keep urging her to do so — so I'm afraid I can't supply a lot of links to more of her work. Which is a pity! A modest person in her private life, in her writing Nan will go where angels fear to tread, though always with great humanity. I'm inclined to tell newcomers to the group, 'Some of us are disguised as little old ladies, but don't be fooled.' Nan is one I am thinking of when I say that. (I myself am another.)

Need I add that she hates having her photo taken? So the best I can do is this blurry newspaper photo of WordsFlow from some years ago. Nan is seated on the left, wearing blue and white and holding up a sheet of paper. (I'm at the far end of the table, also holding up a sheet of paper, with my head tilted back. (Yes we do also have men in the group, but in the minority and none were present that day.))

Anyway — I hope you agree with thousands of Aussies who love this poem.

Any poem or photo used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remains the property of the copyright holder (usually its author).


  1. I love it! It has the rhythm of an old folk poem/tale and a message that hits home.

  2. This man loves it and wishes he'd written it--simple as that.

  3. I too love it and feel it has a legend feel :D
    Happy New Year :D
    Yes, I wish I had written, it too~

  4. I met the God who lives at the creek when I was a child, and didn't know it till I was older. I love this poem.

  5. Lovely choice, Rosemary. The poem is nostalgic and poignant, with its wonderful message. And it is such fun to hear about your writing group, and see the photo. I love "some of us are disguised as little old ladies-but dont be fooled". Yup. Me, too, kiddo!!!!

  6. How wonderful, this read. Uplifting and easily embraced. Just what I needed this morning! Happiest, Rosemary!

  7. Rosemary, that is a truly wonderful poem. I enjoyed it so very much!!

  8. So delighted that you all appreciate it too! (And not surprised,lol.)

  9. Another fantastic share Rosemary. I love the flow and the message.


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