Slade on Fuchsias

When I was young, I kept a notebook into which I copied poems and various other bits and pieces of literature.

Many of those poems and fragments of literature remain with me to this day, as indeed does the notebook, though I update it rarely. (Shame on me!)

My red and black notebook.

Recently, for no apparent reason (although if I examined my conscious more thoroughly, I’m sure good reasons would emerge), I remembered some lines from a poem by an Australian poet called Leon Slade.

Since Mr Slade’s work is not exactly all over the blogosphere, I thought I would share one of his gems with you.

'Slade on Fuchsias' in my flowery teenage handwriting

SLADE ON FUCHSIAS

My class distinction was to be the only one who failed at Art

Art for Art’s sake as a concept escaped my grasp.  Writing and Maths,

Handcrafts and History, I had to share

Calculus is a stone best left unturned.

Flourishes of fresh flowering fuchsias

served daily as models for my unique ineptitude.

The complexity of flowers still startles me:

pencilled versions miss the point

I spend my grey days retiring to my garden

stretch what matters, strain Mendel’s maths.

Fuchsia’s frame the sheltered paths

Eschewing other fancier’s aims at yellow or at black,

my essay is simplification of line so that gratitude

of students of still life may serve as my memorial.

Leon Slade

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About cityoflu

Secret Agent Lu likes travelling, reading, neuroses (all kinds), the Orient, cities, feet and science.
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11 Responses to Slade on Fuchsias

  1. Paul Hobson says:

    Leon Slade died on 28 April 2011. It is interesting to find one of his poems living on in the blogosphere.

  2. cityoflu says:

    That’s sad news. I’m very fond of ‘Slade on Fuchsias’. Do you have any links to his obituary?

    • Paul Hobson says:

      There has not been any obituary published yet. Several of his poems were read at his funeral. I am waiting for a friend to give me the words of these poems. I will post them once I receive them.

  3. Paul Hobson says:

    This beautiful poem was read by Leon Slade’s son at the funeral. It was very moving.

    A Little Dark
    Leon Slade 1970

    My son (he’s only seven)
    tells me he knows
    when I am there behind him
    because it feels a little dark.

    When the day is disappearing
    westward to another dawn,
    it feels, he tells me, just as though
    there was a comforting someone near.

    Father, Father,
    Love me darkly.

    This was another poem read at the funeral. I readily identify with the sentiments in this poem as my life in the city is so different from that of my grandfather who was a farmer in the bush.

    At a Further Remove
    Leon Slade 1972

    A countryman, grandfather was a Slade
    by name, a smith by trade.
    He built his own cottage on a hill
    to which he retired. Most of the doors were hung
    unhinged, none of them ever had
    knobs on.As a final gesture to his ancient craft
    he built a wagon, but its great shaft
    never felt a horse’s weight. It was too heavy
    to be pulled and stood for those last years, the iron-rimmed wheels
    locked in long grass, near the slip-rails.

    Dad made me a kite; he planned
    the thing in detail, sanded the wooden
    slats, pressed the brown paper. When
    we carried it to the paddocks behind
    our place, all the kids that lived nearby
    tagged along to see the great kite fly.
    It never got off the ground.
    This morning
    I gave my son a dollar to spend on himself
    at the shops: times are trying.

  4. Ken Spillman says:

    I would like to contact Leon Slade’s son or any other successor. About 25 years ago I included one of his poems in a collection I co-edited, and would like to retain it in a new edition. Does anybody – perhaps Paul Hobson – know how I might get in touch with the family?

    • cityoflu says:

      I don’t have any contact numbers or addresses for you. This blog post sometimes gets picked up by people doing searches on Leon Slade so maybe someone who can help will see your comment!

    • Paul Hobson says:

      Paul Hobson who enjoys reading City of Lu has seen Ken’s comment and has got in touch with him. It is good that one of Leon Slade’s poems will be republished in this new edition. All made possible by City of Lu. Thank you.

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