"I heard the air, though not the undersong"
This quote comes from the poem “The Tomb of Lt John Learmonth, AIF.”
Apart from the fact that Manifold’s work is a brilliant piece of contemporary Australian writing, he also uses the term “undersong” in a very striking way.
“Undersong” refers to the subordinate and underlying meaning of a song or poem.
Examining the work of my fellow bloggers to detect their undersong would be an interesting exercise.
Let’s start with Boy on a Bike. His theme is cycling, but it isn’t difficult to detect that BOAB has a clear and defined view of how the world should work, and is less than chuffed when he observes situations that contradict this outlook. I put it down to the fact that he’s ex-military. A few years in uniform trains the mind (and the outlook) to admire good order and discipline, and that can’t be a bad thing, especially when you’re riding a bike through the congestion and chaos that’s called Sydney.
So BOAB’s undersong is about defying chaos and applauding order.
Somewhere in there is a major regard for family – but he hides it well.
Kev Gillett is also ex-military, but he acts more as a facilitator. He makes it possible for random spruikers like me to let off steam, and does so in an even-handed manner, although his own views are out there for all to see. Because he stands back and lets it all rip, Kev ends up with some very spirited (and entertaining) discussions. His capacity for organization and his concern for his 7RAR brethren also shine through.
His blog is one of the better organised examples of the genre in cyberspace.
Café-Grendel is all about Coffee. That’s a noble calling (being a Barista – just ask my youngest daughter) so it’s worth a visit if you’re into beverage appreciation. I am.
The undersong is difficult to detect, but I get the flavour (pun??) of a concern about disability support and ethical marketing in there somewhere.
With Kae (Bloodnut Blog), what you sees is what you gets, but I’m sure I can identify a frustrated political journalist. She doesn’t muck about when it comes to direct and clear use of words.
Cav, like me, came across from Telstra Bigblogs. It just took him a little longer to lose patience with that clunky setup.
His undersong, in my opinion is about cars, especially big Fords. He's also ex-infantry, and this comes through.
And so it goes.
But back to Manifold. He was an interesting bloke. He went to Geelong Grammar and Cambridge, can be called an ex-Communist, served in WW2, married a Pom and settled in Brisbane, and remains one of the few Australian war poets to be successfully published.
I like him because he was subversive in the sense that he was unafraid to have a go at national complacency. His work is gritty, and has an unmistakably Australian flavour. And he settled in Brisbane, the best part of this great state, with the possible exception of either Longreach or Herberton.
I'd like to live in Longreach in the dry and Herberton in the wet. In these parts, Winter and Summer are meaningless constructs.
Do yourself a favour and read “The Tomb of Lt John Learmonth AIF”. Preferably aloud. There is music in the language and the theme is uplifting.
No Australian home should be without a copy of the book illustrated.