Biography of Kenneth Slessor
Kenneth Slessor was born in Orange, New South Wales. He published his first poetry in the Bulletin magazine while still at school. He worked on the Sydney Sun newspaper from 1920 to 1925, and for a while on the Melbourne Punch and Melbourne Herald. He returned to Sydney in 1927 to work on Smith's Weekly, where he stayed until 1939.
In 1939, at the outbreak of the Second World War, Slessor was appointed as an official war correspondent, and spent time with Australian troops in England, Greece, the Middle-East and New Guinea.
At the end of the war he returned to the Sydney Sun as a leader-writer and literary editor until 1957. He then worked for the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph. During this period (from 1956 - 1961) he was also editor of the literary magazine Southerly.
Kenneth Slessor died in 1971.
Kenneth Slessor's Works:
Thief of the Moon 1924
Trio with Harley Matthews and Colin Simpson, 1931
Cuckooz Contrey 1932
Darlinghurst Night and Morning Glories 1932
Five Bells 1939
One Hundred Poems 1944
Backless Betty from Bondi edited by Julian Croft, 1983
The Collected Poems of Kenneth Slessor edited by Dennis Haskell and Geoffrey Dutton, 1994
Bread and Wine 1970
War Diaries edited by Clement Semmler, 1985
War Dispatches edited by Clement Semmler, 1987
Poetry, Essays, War Despatches, War Diaries, Journalism, Autobiographical Material and Letters of Kenneth Slessor edited by Dennis Haskell, 1991
Australian Poetry 1945
The Penguin Book of Australian Verse 1958
Kenneth Slessor, a Biography by Geoffrey Dutton, 1991
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Kenneth Slessor Poems
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
Do you give yourself to me utterly, Body and no-body, flesh and no-flesh
The red globe of light, the liquor green, the pulsing arrows and the running fire spilt on the stones, go deeper than a stream; You find this ugly, I find it lovely
North Country, filled with gesturing wood, With trees that fence, like archers' volleys, The flanks of hidden valleys Where nothing's left to hide
Thief Of The Moon
Thief of the moon, thou robber of old delight, Thy charms have stolen the star-gold, quenched the moon- Cold, cold are the birds that, bubbling out of night, Cried once to my ears their unremembered tune-
These black bush-waters, heavy with crusted boughs Like plumes above dead captains, wake the mind.... Uncounted kissing, unremembered vows, Nights long forgotten, moons too dark to find,
After the whey-faced anonymity Of river-gums and scribbly-gums and bush, After the rubbing and the hit of brush, You come to the South Country
Country towns, with your willows and squares, And farmers bouncing on barrel mares To public houses of yellow wood With '1860' over their doors,
Softly and humbly to the Gulf of Arabs The convoys of dead sailors come; At night they sway and wander in the waters far under,
The Night Ride
Gas flaring on the yellow platform; voices running up and down; Milk-tins in cold dented silver; half-awake I stare,
SMOKE upon smoke; over the stone lips Of chimneys bleeding, a darker fume descends. Night, the old nun, in voiceless pity bends
I'LL kick your walls to bits, I'll die scratching a tunnel, If you'll give me a wall, if you'll give me a simple stone,
Out Of Time
1 I saw Time flowing like a hundred yachts That fly behind the daylight, foxed with air; Or piercing, like the quince-bright, bitter slats
Elegy In A Botanic Gardens
THE smell of birds' nests faintly burning Is autumn. In the autumn I came Where spring had used me better,
These black bush-waters, heavy with crusted boughs
Like plumes above dead captains, wake the mind....
Uncounted kissing, unremembered vows,
Nights long forgotten, moons too dark to find,
Or stars too cold...all quick things that have fled
Whilst these old bubbles uprise in older stone,
Return like pale dead faces of children dead,
Staring unfelt through doors for ever unknown.