Poems of A. D. Hope - Peter Myers, November 9, 2001; my comments within the text are shown {thus}. Write to me at contact.html.

You are at http://mailstar.net/adhope-poems.html.

Alec Derwent Hope, Australian poet, although dear to the New Left, touches the realities of life, irreverently and yet with respect too. I have included his poem AUSTRALIA amongst the Australian Bush Poetry: bush-poems.html.

Hope seems in some places Marxist, in other places Freudian, but my impression is that he is not as materialist as those philosophies - I see him as a Shivaite: danielou2.html.

From A. D. Hope, COLLECTED POEMS 1930-1970, Angus and Robertson, Sydney 1972.


When, darkly brooding on this Modern Age,
The journalist with his marketable woes
Fills up once more the inevitable page
Of fatuous, flatulent, Sunday-paper prose;

Whenever the green aesthete starts to whoop
With horror at the house not made with hands
And when from vacuum cleaners and tinned soup
Another pure theosophist demands

Rebirth in other, less industrial stars
Where huge towns thrust up in synthetic stone
And films and sleek miraculous motor cars
And celluloid and rubber are unknown;

When from his vegetable Sunday School
Emerges with the neatly maudlin phrase
Still one more Nature poet, to rant or drool
About the "Standardization of the Race";

I see, stooping among her orchard trees,
The old, sound Earth, gathering her windfalls in,
Broad in the hams and stiffening at the knees,
Pause and I see her grave malicious grin.

For there is no manufacturer competes
With her in the mass production of shapes and things.
Over and over she gathers and repeats
The cast of a face, a million butterfly wings.

She does not tire of the pattern of a rose.
Her oldest tricks still catch us with surprise.
She cannot recall how long ago she chose
The streamlined hulls of fish, the snail's long eyes,

Love, which still pours into its ancient mould
The lashing seed that grows to a man again,
From whom by the same processes unfold
Unending generations of living men.

She has standardized his ultimate needs and pains.
Lost tribes in a lost language mutter in
His dreams: his science is tethered to their brains,
His guilt merely repeats Original Sin.

And beauty standing motionless before
Her mirror sees behind her, mile on mile,
A long queue in an unknown corridor,
Anonymous faces plastered with her smile.


Make no mistake; there will be no forgiveness;
No voice can harm you and no hand will save;
Fenced by the magic of deliberate darkness
You walk on the sharp edges of the wave;

Trouble with soul again the putrefaction
Where Lazarus three days rotten lies content.
Your human tears will be the seed of faction
Murder the sequel to your sacrament.

The City of God is built like other cities:
Judas negotiates the loans you float;
You will meet Caiaphas upon committees;
You will be glad of Pilate's casting vote.

Your truest lovers still the foolish virgins,
Your heart will sicken at the marriage feasts
Knowing they watch you from the darkened gardens
Being polite to your official guests.


Going to Bed

Chloe, let down that chestnut hair;
Let it flow full; let it fall free;
Loosen that zone, those clasps that bare
Your breasts: then leave the rest to me.

First like a cloud your dress shall float
Over your shoulders and away;
And next the faithless petticoat
Those exquisite, breathing flanks display;

Stockings and drawers I shall peel off
From your lithe legs and lovely thighs,
And think the rustling silks you slough
The foam from which, new-born, you rise.

Thus Love in mime despoils this world:
Fashions, beliefs and customs fall;
In brutal, naked grace unfurled
He shows the root and ground of all.

But when his power has stripped us stark,
These purged and primal selves shall find
A better and a brighter mark
Than those poor ventures of mankind;

For we whose fate is to retrace
The labyrinth and re-wind the clew,
All patterns of the past erase
And find our world begins anew.

Our nature then puts off, my dear,
What parts it from the true divine:
Bare as the gods we must appear
And as those blessed beings shine.

A single, soaring flame shall bound,
Frame and enfold our nakedness;
And with that glory clothed and crowned
Our souls shall want no other dress.

No roof can shelter us, no house
That falls to ruin as fabrics must;
No crumbling temple hear our vows
Or sanction that immortal lust.

Our bed must be the bracken brown
Or the waste dunes beside the sea,
And the wide heaven arching down
Our portion of eternity.

The Lamp

Night and the sea; the firelight glowing;
We sit in silence by the hearth;
I musing, you beside me sewing,
We glean the long day's aftermath.

After the romping surf, the laughter,
The salt and sun, the roaring beach,
These flames glancing on wall and rafter
Are tongues of pentecostal speech.

And while their whispers come and go, I
Turn to watch you in your grace,
My gallant, radiant, reckless Chloe,
Who love and lead me such a chase,

To find it vanished, that incessant
Fulfilment of the urgent Now:
For here, absolved from past and present,
There broods a girl I do not know.

The clear, the gay, the brilliant nature
Matching your body's pride, gives place
To a soft, wavering change of feature:
This grave, remote and troubled face;

A face all women have in common
When, lost within them'selves, alone,
They hear the demiourgos summon
And draw their ocean like the moon.

The moon is up; the beaches glisten,
The land grows faceless as the sea;
And you withdraw and, while you listen,
Put on your anonymity.

I hear my pulses, as they travel,
Drop one by one to the abyss;
I feel the skein of life unravel
And ask in dread: who then is this ?

Who is this shade that sits beside me
And on what errand has she come:
To drive me on the dark, or guide me,
To tempt, or bring my spirit home ?

Or is she lost herself, uncertain
And helpless on that timeless track ?
Whichever way, I draw the curtain
And light the lamp that brings us back.


At noon the paper tigers roar   -- Miroslav Holub

The paper tigers roar at noon;
The sun is hot, the sun is high.
They roar in chorus, not in tune,
Their plaintive, savage hunting cry.

O, when you hear them, stop your ears
And clench your lids and bite your tongue.
The harmless paper tiger bears
Strong fascination for the young.

His forest is the busy street;
His dens the forum and the mart;
He drinks no blood, he tastes no meat:
He riddles and corrupts the heart.

But when the dusk begins to creep
From tree to tree, from door to door,
The jungle tiger wakes from sleep
And utters his authentic roar.

It bursts the night and shakes the stars
Till one breaks blazing from the sky;
Then listen! If to meet it soars
Your heart's reverberating cry,

My child, then put aside your fear:
Unbar the door and walk outside!
The real tiger waits you there;
His golden eyes shall be your guide.

And, should he spare you in his wrath,
The world and all the worlds are yours;
And should he leap the jungle path
And clasp you with his bloody jaws,

Then say, as his divine embrace
Destroys the mortal parts of you:
I too am of that royal race
Who do what we are born to do.

This was the gods' god,
The leashed divinity,
Divine divining rod
And Me within the me.

By mindlight tower and tree
Its shadow on the ground
Throw, and in darkness she
Whose weapon is her wound

Fends off the knife, the sword,
The Tiger and the Snake;
It stalks the virgin's bed
And bites her wide awake.

Her Bab-el-Mandeb waits
Her Red Sea gate of tears:
The blood-sponge god dilates,
His rigid pomp appears;

Sets in the toothless mouth
A tongue of prophecy.
It speaks in naked Truth
Indifference for me

Love, a romantic slime
That lubricates his way
Against the stream of Time.
And though I win the day

His garrisons deep down
Ignore my victory,
Abandon this doomed town,
Crawl through a sewer and flee.

A certain triumph, of course,
Bribes me with brief joy:
Stiffly my Wooden Horse
Receive into your Troy.


Reading the menu at the morning service:
- Iced Venusberg perhaps, or buttered bum -
Orders the usual sex-ersatz, and, nervous,
Glances around - Will she or won't she come?

The congregation dissected into pews
Gulping their strip teas in the luminous cavern
Agape's sacamental berry stews;
The nickel-plated light and clatter of heaven

Receive him, temporary Tantalus
Into the Lookingglassland's firescape.
Suckled on Jungfraumilch his eyes discuss,
The werwolf twins, their mock Sabellian rape.

This is their time to reap the standing scorn,
Blonde Rumina's crop. Beneath her leafless tree
Ripe-rumped she lolls and clasps the plenteous horn.
Cool customers who defy his Trinity

Feel none the less, and thrill, ur-vater Fear
Caged in the son. For, though this ghost behave
Experienced daughters recognize King Leer:
Lot also had his daughters in a cave.

Full sail the proud three-decker sandwiches
With the eye-fumbled priestesses repass;
On their swan lake the enchanted icecreams freeze,
The amorous fountain prickles in the glass

And at the introit of this mass emotion
She comes, she comes, a balanced pillar of blood,
Guides through the desert, divides the sterile ocean,
Brings sceptic Didymus his berserk food,

Sits deftly, folding elegant thighs, and takes
Her time. She skins her little leather hands,
Conscious that wavering towards her like tame snakes
The polyp eyes converge.... The prophet stands

Dreading the answer from her burning bush:
This unconsuming flame, the outlaw's blow,
Plague, exodus, Sinai, ruptured stones that gush,
God's telegram: Dare Now! Let this people go!


Now the heart sings with all its thousand voices
To hear this city of cells, my body, sing.
The tree through the stiff clay at long last forces
Its thin strong roots and taps the secret spring.

And the sweet waters without intermission
Climb to the tips of its green tenement;
The breasts have borne the grace of their possession,
The lips have felt the pressure of content.

Here I come home: in this expected country
They know my name and speak it with delight.
I am the dream and you my gates of entry,
The means by which I waken into light.

What did I study in your School of Night?
When your mouth's first unfathomable yes
Opened your body to be my book, I read
My answers there and learned the spell aright,
Yet, though I searched and searched, could never guess
What spirits it raised nor where their questions led.

Those others, familiar tenants of your sleep,
The whisperers, the grave somnambulists
Whose eyes turn in to scrutinize their woe,
The giant who broods above the nightmare steep,
That sleeping girl, shuddering, with clenched fists,
A vampire baby suckling at her toe,

They taught me most. The scholar held his pen
And watched his blood drip thickly on the page
To form a text in unknown characters
Which, as I scanned them, changed and changed again:
The lines grew bars, the bars a Delphic cage
And I the captive of his magic verse.

To be put on the train and kissed and given my ticket,
Then the station slid backward, the shops and the neon lighting,
Reeling off in a drunken blur, with a whole pound note in my pocket
And the holiday packed with Perhaps. It used to be very exciting.

The present and past were enough. I did not mind having my back
To the engine. I sat like a spider and spun
Time backward out of my guts - or rather my eyes - and the track
Was a Now dwindling off to oblivion. I thought it was fun:

The telegraph poles slithered up in a sudden crescendo
As we sliced the hill and scattered its grazing sheep;
The days were a wheeling delirium that led without end to
Nights when we plunged into roaring tunnels of sleep.

But now I am tired of the train. I have learned that one tree
Is much like another, one hill the dead spit of the next
I have seen tailing off behind all the various types of country
Like a clock running down. I am bored and a little perplexed;

And weak with the effort of endless evacuation
Of the long monotonous Now, the repetitive, tidy
Officialdom of each siding, of each little station
Labelled Monday, Tuesday - and goodness ! what happened to - Friday ?

And the maddening way the other passengers alter:
The schoolgirl who goes to the Ladies' comes back to her seat
A lollipop blonde who leads you on to assault her,
And you've just got her skirts round her waist and her pants round her feet

When you find yourself fumbling about the nightmare knees
Of a pink hippopotamus with a permanent wave
Who sends you for sandwiches and a couple of teas,
But by then she has whiskers, no teeth and one foot in the grave.

I have lost my faith that the ticket tells where we are going.
There are rumours the driver is mad - we are all being trucked
To the abattoirs somewhere - the signals are jammed and unknowing
We aim through the night full speed at a wrecked viaduct.

But I do not believe them. The future is rumour and drivel;
Only the past is assured. From the observation car
I stand looking back and watching the landscape shrivel,
Wondering where we are going and just where the hell we are,

Remembering how I planned to break the journey, to drive
My own car one day, to have choice in my hands and my foot upon power,
To see through the trumpet throat of vertiginous perspective
My urgent Now explode continually into flower,

To be the Eater of Time, a poet and not that sly
Anus of mind the historian. It was so simple and plain
To live by the sole, insatiable influx of the eye.
But something went wrong with the plan: I am still on the train.


Crossing the frontier they were stopped in time,
Told, quite politely, they would have to wait:
Passports in order, nothing to declare
And surely holding hands was not a crime
Until they saw how, ranged across the gate,
All their most formidable friends were there.

Wearing his conscience like a crucifix,
Her father, rampant, nursed the Family Shame;
And, armed wlth their old-fashioned dinner-gong,
His aunt, who even when they both were six,
Had just to glance towards a childish game
To make them feel that they were doing wrong.

And both their mothers, simply weeping floods,
Her head-mistress, his boss, the parish priest,
And the bank manager who cashed their cheques;
The man who sold him his first rubber-goods;
Dog Fido, from whose love-life, shameless beast,
She first observed the basic facts of sex.

They looked as though they had stood there for hours;
For years - perhaps for ever. In the trees
Two furtive birds stopped courting and flew off;
While in the grass beside the road the flowers
Kept up their guilty traffic with the bees.
Nobody stirred. Nobody risked a cough.

Nobody spoke. The minutes ticked away;
The dog scratched idly. Then, as parson bent
And whispered to a guard who hurried in,
The customs-house loudspeakers with a bray
Of raucous and triumphant argument
Broke out the wedding march from Lohengrin.

He switched the engine off: "We must turn back."
She heard his voice break, though he had to shout
Against a din that made their senses reel,
And felt his hand, so tense in hers, go slack.
But suddenly she laughed and said: "Get out!
Change seatsl Be quickl" and slid behind the wheel.

And drove the car straight at them with a harsh,
Dry crunch that showered both with scraps and chips,
Drove through them; barriers rising let them pass
Drove through and on and on, with Dad's moustache
Beside her twitching still round waxen lips
And Mother's tears still streaming down the glass.


I sing of the decline of Henry Clay
Who loved a white girl of uncommon size.
Although a small man in a little way,
He had in him some seed of enterprise.

Each day he caught the seven-thirty train
To work, watered his garden after tea,
Took an umbrella if it looked like rain A
nd was remarkably like you or me.

He had his hair cut once a fortnight, tried
Not to forget the birthday of his wife,
And might have lived unnoticed till he died
Had not ambition entered Henry's life.

He met her in the lounge of an hotel -
A most unusual place for him to go -
But there he was and there she was as well
Sitting alone. He ordered beers for two.

She was so large a girl that when they came
He gave the waiter twice the usual tip.
She smiled without surprise, told him her name,
And as the name trembled on Henry's lip,

His parched soul, swelling like a desert root,
Broke out its delicate dream upon the air;
The mountains shook with earthquake under foot;
An angel seized him suddenly by the hair;

The sky was shrill with peril as he passed;
A hurricane crushed his senses with its din;
The wildfire crackled up his reeling mast;
The trumpet of a maelstrom sucked hirn in;

The desert shrivelled and burnt off his feet;
His bones and buttons an enormous snake
Vomited up; still in the shimmering heat
The pygmies showed him their forbidden lake

And then transfixed him with their poison darts;
He married six black virgins in a bunch,
Who, when they had drawn out his manly parts,
Stewed him and ate him lovingly for lunch.

Adventure opened wide its grisly jaws;
Henry looked in and knew the Hero's doom.
The huge white girl drank on without a pause
And, just at closing time, she asked him home.

The tram they took was full of Roaring Boys
Announcing the world's ruin and Judgment Day;
The sky blared with its grand orchestral voice
The Gotterdammerung of Henry Clay.

But in her quiet room they were alone.
There, towering over Henry by a head,
She stood and took her clothes off one by one,
And then she stretched herself upon the bed.

Her bulk of beauty, her stupendous grace
Challenged the lion heart in his puny dust.
Proudly his Moment looked him in the face:
He rose to meet it as a hero must;

Climbed the white mountain of unravished snow,
Planted his tiny flag upon the peak.
The smooth drifts, scarcely breathing, lay below.
She did not take the trouble to smile or speak.

And afterwards, it may have been in play,
The enormous girl rolled over and squashed him flat;
And, as she could not send him home that way,
Used him thereafter as a bedside mat.

Speaking at large, I will say this of her: S
he did not spare expense to make him nice.
Tanned on both sides and neatly edged with fur,
The job would have been cheap at any price.

And when, in winter, getting out of bed,
Her large soft feet pressed warmly on the skin,
The two glass eyes would sparkle in his head,
The jaws extend their papier-mache grin.

Good people, for the soul of Henry Clay
Offer your prayers, and view his destiny!
He was the Hero of our Time. He may
With any luck, one day, be you or me.


He that is filthy let him be filthy still.
REV. 22.11

Like John on Patmos, brooding on the Four
Last Things, I meditate the ruin of friends
Whose loss, Lord,  brings this grand new curse to mind
Now send me foes worth cursing, or send more
- Since means should be proportionate to ends -
For mine are few and of the piddling kind:

Drivellers, snivellers, writers of bad verse,
Backbiting bitches, snipers from a pew,
Small turds from the great arse of self-esteem;
On such as these I would not waste my curse.
God send me soon the enemy or two
Fit for the wrath of God, of whom I dream:

Some Caliban of Culture, some absurd
Messiah of the Paranoiac State,
Some Educator wallowing in his slime,
Some Prophet of the Uncreating Word
Monsters a man might reasonably hate,
Masters of Progress, Leaders of our Time;

But chiefly the Suborners: Common Tout
And Punk, the Advertiser, him I mean
And his smooth hatchet-man, the Technocrat.
Them let my malediction single out,
These modern Dives with their talking screen
Who lick the sores of Lazarus and grow fat,

Licensed to pimp, solicit and procure
Here in my house, to foul my feast, to bawl
Their wares while I am talking with my friend,
To pour into my ears a public sewer
Of all the Strumpet Muses sell and all
That prostituted science has to vend.

In this great Sodom of a world, which turns
The treasure of the Intellect to dust
And every gift to some perverted use,
What wonder if the human spirit learns
Recourses of despair or of disgust,
Abortion, suicide and self-abuse.

But let me laugh, Lord; let me crack and strain
The belly of this derision till it burst;
For I have seen too much, have lived too long
A citizen of Sodom to refrain,
And in the stye of Science, from the first,
Have watched the pearls of Circe drop on dung.

Let me not curse my children, nor in rage
Mock at the just, the helpless and the poor,
Foot-fast in Sodom's rat-trap; make me bold
To turn on the Despoilers all their age
Invents: damnations never felt before
And hells more horrible than hot and cold.

And, since in Heaven creatures purified
Rational, free, perfected in their kinds
Contemplate God and see Him face to face
In Hell, for sure, spirits transmogrified,
Paralysed wills and parasitic minds
Mirror their own corruption and disgrace.

Now let this curse fall on my enemies
My enemies, Lord, but all mankind's as well
Prophets and panders of their golden calf;
Let Justice fit them all in their degrees;
Let them, still living, know that state of hell,
And let me see them perish, Lord, and laugh.

Let them be glued to television screens
Till their minds fester and the trash they see
Worm their dry hearts away to crackling shells;
Let ends be so revenged upon their means
That all that once was human grows to be
A flaccid mass of phototropic cells;

Let the dog love his vomit still, the swine
Squelch in the slough; and let their only speech
Be Babel; let the specious lies they bred
Taste on their tongues like intellectual wine
Let sung commercials surfeit them, till each
Goggles with nausea in his nauseous bed.

And, lest with them I learn to gibber and gloat,
Lead me, for Sodom is my city still,
To seek those hills in which the heart finds ease;
Give Lot his leave; let Noah build his boat,
And me and mine, when each has laughed his fill,
View thy damnation and depart in peace.

{end of poems}

A. D. Hope's poem AUSTRALIA is included amongst the Australian Bush Poetry: bush-poems.html.

Write to me at contact.html.