It’s deeply gratifying for me that Adelaide Writers’ Week has opened with a dedication to the late Colin Thiele. We are only just beginning to realise what an amazing contribution Colin made to Australia’s literary heritage and our awareness of environmental issues. It’s only in recent years I’ve become acquainted with the quality of Colin’s early poetry. The poem I wrote on hearing of his death on the same day as Steve Irwin’s is not of the same quality as Thiele’s work, but it is heartfelt.
Elegy for Colin Thiele
You didn’t wrestle crocodiles, die tragically or young
or driving cars in circles round the track.
Brought up in Eudunda, your praises won’t be sung
in Washington. You won’t be coming back.
I grew up with your Bruno, saw the sun upon the stubble
Your poetry was subtle, wry and deft.
You realized fifty years ago the planet was in trouble,
that if we don’t wake up, there’s nothing left.
You recognized our ancient land in all its muted beauty,
the pelican, the Coorong’s fragile dunes.
Your writing and your teaching, your gift – perhaps your duty –
May future generations hear your tunes.
There’ll be no lavish funeral provided by the State –
You’re in our hearts, though, Colin. Goodbye old humble mate…
© rob walker, September, 2006. First read at Friendly Street 03/10/06. First published AEU Journal, November, 2006.