Les Murray, one of the best English-speaking poets in the world, said recently that “Probably the only greater Australian Christian poet [than James McAuley] is Andrew Lansdown”. This statement, first published in the American literary journal Image, has been reproduced on the back cover of Andrew’s latest collection of poetry, Far from Home: Poems of faith, grief and gladness.
The publisher’s blurb states:
Far from Home abounds with warmth, insight, quirkiness and compassion. The poems explore and express loss, grief, longing, regret, hope and happiness. They celebrate family, friendship, freedom and courage. They affirm the astonishing value of human life and are informed by an integrity that arises from the poet’s Christian faith. Readers, however, do not need to share his faith in order to appreciate his poems. These are poems of the human condition; and as such, they speak to every human heart.
The same publisher, Wombat Books, last year published a 224-page collection of Andrew’s nature poetry, Birds in Mind. Far from Home is a companion collection, and could be described as a collection of Andrew’s human nature poetry.
Far from Home contains over 180 poems, including a series of 32 dramatic monologues on the life of the prophet Elijah. Half the poems have been selected from Andrew’s earlier poetry collections, while the other half are previously uncollected.
Three poems from Far from Home are reprinted below:
can find their way by the stars,
I look and am lost.
The only place they lead me,
my Sovereign, is home to you.
Mirth with meaning
After the meal, we read
the words of Christ in the Gospel
of Matthew: ‘when you fast,
do not look dismal …’
‘What does “fast” mean?’ I ask.
My daughter jumps from her chair
and races around the table.
‘See—I’m fast!’ she declares.
Who dares laugh? Angels
rollick about the room. I nod
earnestly. There is a smile
on the three Faces of God.
Like the samurai
I long not to shame myself
or my Lord in death.
Yet those ancient warriors
are beyond compare
in bare courage and resolve.
I fear I’ll never
match such mighty ones as them.
Yet my Lord avers:
Not your courage but my grace
will defend you from disgrace.
Copies of Far from Home by Andrew Lansdown can be obtained from Koorong Books or Life Ministries or the poet’s website, andrewlansdown.com. Price: $19.95 Aus (plus $2.00 postage within Australia).
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