‘Gethsemane’, on Patrick White

By | 1 May 2017

Gethsemane at your shoulder as you work,
garden of sleep and torment, the betrayal
of whispers you were born to, outside the frame,
beyond the painter’s bloom and power
the strikes of his marks of black and grey –
both writer and painter, swimming against
a cramped world. But in this house
of aunts and failures and divisions of mind,
it was love that stepped up to the garden:
creator of worlds driven with fire, peopled with
blubber and fuss, with overwhelming puzzlement,
the stunning stillness, the silliness and effort
behind screens of respectable appearance –
you captured the bright scream of the broken
who do not know they are broken,
turned a lamp upon them, open.

‘Patrick White’s study with Gethsemane’ (by Ian Fairweather)
c. 1973 photograph by Ern McQuillan, National Library of Australia

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