Friday, November 20, 2009

A love poem by Christopher Brennan

Post 373 - John Christopher Brennan was born in Sydney, NSW, in 1870 and educated in the classics at the University of Sydney. Having spent time in Berlin on a traveling scholarship, he returned home to become a library cataloger and a part time lecturer. He was appointed an associate professor of German and comparative literature at the University of Sydney in 1920. He was dismissed from this post in 1925 following a divorce, because of increasing drunkenness and his unconventional life-style. He then lived in poverty for some years before his death from cancer in 1932.

Brennan's highly personal verse was never very popular with the Australian public but was highly regarded by critics and fellow poets for its vitality and sincerity. For many years, much of his work was virtually unobtainable, having originally been produced in small editions or circulated privately. A collected edition in 1958 helped rescue his reputation from obscurity. In remembrance, the Fellowship of Australian Writers in 1976 established the Christopher Brennan Award (formerly known as the Robert Frost Prize) in the form of a bronze plaque which is presented annually to an Australian poet recognizing a lifetime achievement in poetry of "sustained quality and distinction."

Because She Would Ask Me Why I Love Her by Christopher Brennan.

If questioning would make us wise
No eyes would ever gaze in eyes;
If all our tale were told in speech
No mouths would wander each to each.

Were spirits free from mortal mesh
And love not bound in hearts of flesh
No aching breasts would yearn to meet
And find their ecstasy complete.

For who is there that lives and knows
The secret powers by which he grows?
Were knowledge all, what were our need
To thrill and faint and sweetly bleed?

Then seek not, sweet, the "If" and "Why"
I love you now until I die.
For I must love because I live
And life in me is what you give.

1 comment:

Phillip A. Ellis said...

Just a minor correction: the collection appeared in 1960, and was followed by a collection of his prose in 1962.

There have also been a couple of selected poems, and another collection, the former two from Angus and Robertson, and the latter from the University of Queensland Press.