When homesickness eats at me I listen to podcasts. I listen to news broadcasts, talk shows, shows about sport, science, design, culture. I don’t care just as long as I’m hearing voices from home.
One of the my favourites is The Book Show1. Ramona Koval’s voice and sense of humour soothe me and the range of coverage is excellent: old books, new books, local books, o.s. books, books in translation, poetry, essays etc. etc.2
Last week was all poetry. They looked at five classic Oz poems. Beginning with one of my favourites, “Five Bells” By Kenneth Slessor:
Time that is moved by little fidget wheels
Is not my time, the flood that does not flow.
Between the double and the single bell
Of a ship’s hour, between a round of bells
From the dark warship riding there below,
I have lived many lives, and this one life
Of Joe, long dead, who lives between five bells.
The reading by Robert Menzies was gorgeous and the people commenting on it were smart and insightful. I first read “Five Bells” in high school, but I feel like I never really understood it until I listened to that show. Beautiful.
Made me wish I was back home because the Sydney he describes, the harbour he describes, I know it well and I miss it so much:
I looked out my window in the dark
At waves with diamond quills and combs of light
That arched their mackerel-backs and smacked the sand
In the moon’s drench, that straight enormous glaze,
And ships far off asleep, and Harbour-buoys
Tossing their fireballs wearily each to each,
And tried to hear your voice, but all I heard
Was a boat’s whistle, and the scraping squeal
Of seabirds’ voices far away, and bells,
Five bells. Five bells coldly ringing out.
Someone asked me what was the last thing I read that made me cry? At the time I couldn’t think of anything but I have an answer now: “Five Bells.”
- Which I can’t help thinking of by it’s old name,”Books & Writing” [↩]
- Though it’d be nice if there was more YA coverage. I keep waiting for the show devoted to all the Oz YA writers storming the world: Sonya Hartnett, Margo Lanagan, Jaclyn Moriarty, Garth Nix, Marcus Zusak and so on and so forth. We are hot overseas, Book Show, honestly we are. Between us we’ve sold in more than thirty countries! Won prizes all over the place. You need to notice this world domination! [↩]