Friday, July 21, 2017

I Wish I'd Written This

The Gentle Hum

I wonder,
Will it all click into place?
I feel it might.
I had a glimpse
That things could all come right.
I'd wake up
On a sunny, slightly roostered morn
And wouldn't realise at first;
The rightness would take time to dawn.
And gradually
the thing would start to gleam;
This worried life I'd had,
This awful world, this painful mess –
It was, in fact, a kind of dream.
The penny would just drop

Into my hand,
The penny that I'd lost so long ago,
And all the peace withheld and blocked from me
Would start to flow.
The gentle hum, the gold and silver light
Would all resume;
The fairies and the pixies,
The particles of dust
Caught in the sunlight in my room.
I'd pick up
Where I'd been so rudely interrupted;
I'd have it back again for keeps,
My dog, my brilliant grasp of life,
My backyard and my paddocks full of time,
The world all glad around me,
My rightful place,
My joyous leaps.

Michael Leunig

from Poems 1972-2002, Melbourne, Penguin (Viking) 2003.

Leunig is a much-loved Australian cartoonist with a quirky, whimsical style, who has been part of the national psyche for about 50 years and by now is almost as well-known and loved for his poetry too. He often illustrates his cartoons with poetry – or perhaps his poetry with cartoons.

He is modest about his poetic talent and has described some of his efforts as verses rather than poetry, but his public insists on calling it poetry. Wikipedia describes him as a cartoonist, poet and cultural commentator. He was declared an Australian Living Treasure by the National Trust of Australia in 1999.

His website features his cartoons, paintings, prose writings, poems and prayers. He writes beautiful and often poignant prayers, in simple language; and his cartoons are to fall in love with. The site includes a detailed biography about his life and work.

He is often referred to as a prophet – of both innocence (childlike wonder) and disillusionment (he can be politically outspoken).

He has the knack of touching a chord and saying just what everyone wishes they'd said, or would have if they could. (Well, except for people who take offence at the more controversial material.)

I love this poem for presenting us with another view than all the sadness, horror and alarm with which the news keeps deluging us – for taking us, if just for a little while, back to the joys of childhood. (Oh to have 'paddocks full of time'!)

Is it the happy poem it seems at first glance? I think it is in fact a sad poem, detailing the things lost outside of dreams. I think it expresses yearning.

Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors. This photo of Leunig: Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 (Bahudhara - Own work Original file name = DSC12222.JPG)


  1. Oh. Yes! Me too. I wish I could have written this!
    I am groaning, I feel such a yearning:
    "I'd wake up
    On a sunny, slightly roostered morn
    And wouldn't realise at first;
    The rightness would take time to dawn."
    Thank you for this man and his site and this poem.
    I will keep it forever.

  2. I agree with you, Rosemary. It IS a sad poem. I read it thinking of current news. I wonder too if, somehow, it will all (soon) click into place and this 'painful mess' will be found to be 'a kind of dream' and we will all wake up and we would be back where we'd been so 'rudely interrupted.'

  3. Thank you Rose Mary for introducing this poem and share his "happy-sad poem."
    Sometimes one might wish to return to childhood, if only for a little while. The dog would be there, too.

  4. Rosemary, How I LOVE this poet, this poem and his worldview. I just checked his blog and found this gem: Wow.


    When the heart
    Is cut or cracked or broken,
    Do not clutch it;
    Let the wound lie open.
    Let the wind
    From the good old sea blow in
    To bathe the wound with salt,
    And let it sting.
    Let a stray dog lick it,
    Let a bird lean in the hole and sing
    A simple song like a tiny bell,
    And let it ring.

    Thank you for the introduction. I can see his beautiful heart in his poems.

    1. Yes, that one is an old favourite of mine! There's no-one quite like Leunig. He is, justly, even more famous for his unique cartoons, which reveal the same beautiful heart.

  5. Thank you for this, Rosemary

  6. I've got to tell you (hahaha) that I am cracking up (laughing) and awed by the cartoons!

  7. Thank you Rosemary for introducing us to this talented creator. Love this poem. His cartoons as well as paintings are awesome.

  8. That was a wonderful poem, I am new to his work and will be on the lookout for more. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I'm glad you like it! He's regularly published in Australian newspapers; might be harder to find in other countries.

  9. I did not know he wrote poems. He is a wonderful cartoonist. I have used his and his sister's work as an inspiration for some of my poems. His sister Mary Leunig is a wonderful cartoonist as well. Nice post.

  10. Thanks for introducing me to this poet. I will read more of his work. I found this poem to be childlike, and yearning in its innocence. Beautiful.

  11. I'm a bit late in getting to this, but I'm so glad that I circled back. I really enjoyed this poem (and yes!!! - I do wish I'd written it) as well as your commentary, Rosemary. In fact, I think it is one of my favorites.

  12. Thanks for introducing me to this poet. I absolutely Luv this line

    "My backyard and my paddocks full of time,"

    Much love...


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