Vivian Smith


Rereading the biography

I like the early years the best—
that time of pinch and scrape and work and struggle.
I care much less now for the public figure,
the wild man who died so full of fame.
Tittle-tattle, back-biting, slander, jealousy.

The limited success, the lack of mess,
before the festivals and the big launches.
Par délicatesse, j’ai perdu ma vie.

Sometimes he’d watch a sparrow flutter in
an inch of water showing miles of sky,
or save a bee or butterfly from drowning,
too late of course to turn its life around,
though some things could be managed in small doses.
Never forgot a kindness or a friend.



Vivian Smith lives in Sydney. He has published eight volumes of poetry and a number of scholarly and critical works. He recently co-edited Windchimes: Asia in Australian Poetry and Patrick White: A Bibliography, and wrote on colonial poets for the Cambridge History of Australian Literature.