16/8/1945 George Street, Sydney
when poor link arms with the well-to-do,
two Diggers drunk beyond all help,
vast crowds a-sway like ocean kelp.
This is the Street of Broad Hooray.
Papers blizzard on its grey,
and folk go wigged in shredded files;
unprompted are their camera smiles.
My darlings, look, we have come through!
declare the crowds on Hullaballoo,
who conjure from their one ahoy
this genie now to seize their joy,
to skip and sway and doff his trilby,
pirouette his sideways smile,
and signal how all futures will be
made the lighter for his style.
This is no more than circumstance,
and this tall fellow’s brilliant dance
has just eight seconds in our view
as Newsreel trawls on Hullaballoo.
Yet catch the sob of pure release
from those for whom he’s centrepiece
so bravo and so fugitive
as he takes flight in ‘forty five,
this Mister Zeitgeist, Charlie Twirl -
whose name will be historical
for all there’s nothing in a name
when dance outdances personal claim
to touch the quick of what’s in view
along the tides of Hullaballoo,
where strangers link an arm and arm
to joy at others saved from harm
on isles of acrid ballyhoo
where wreckage is the homely view
till lifted now from that sheer pall
by this so debonair morale.
Our camera tremors on its scene
to steady light for where we’ve been,
this day of papers churned to snow
and crowds in archipelago,
to lift us with these ballet motions,
this blithest fuse for huge emotions
with commentary so bygone, yet
the footage of this pirouette
tracking the shots on Deep Hooray
where this Mad Hatter flaunts his sway,
lighting what’s meant when Hullaballoo
slips arm through arm with me and you.
I took a trip up to Bendigo for the Writers Festival recently, and while
I was there I bumped into Les Murray, and he pressed this poem upon
me with assurances that it was masterly. I didn't disagree with him.
Below I have added a link to the inspiration for the poem, for those
too young to know of it, for those who live in other countries and who
are steeped in other cultural images.