Tuesday, 16 June 2009


“We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.” - Thomas Fuller

Today is the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, as endorsed by the United Nations. It was in December 1994, that the United Nations General Assembly declared June 17 the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. The assembly acknowledged that desertification and drought were global problems because they affected all regions of the globe. The assembly also realised that joint action by the international community was needed to combat desertification and drought, particularly in Africa.

The day is dedicated to highlighting the urgent need to curb the desertification process around the world. It aims to strengthen the visibility of the dry lands issue on the international environmental agenda. Inherent in the various events that are used to publicise this day around the world are issues relating to climate change, as these play an important role in the desertification and drought conditions that are seen in many parts around the world presently.

In Australia, especially in the centre and the southern states, drought has been a perennial problem. In Victoria we have had a persistent drought for the past 15 years. Our water reservoirs supplying the megalopolis of Melbourne are down to 25.8% full today, despite massive campaigns to raise public awareness of water economy, rising water consumption tariffs and stringent water restrictions. We once prided ourselves by saying we lived in the “Garden State”, but many a garden and park are now looking parched, even in the middle of winter…

Flexmore Hudson (1913 - 1988)

Midsummer noon;
and the timbered walls start in the heat
and the children sag listlessly over the desks
with bloodless faces oozing sweat
sipped by the stinging flies.

Outside, the tall sun fades the shabby mallee
and drives the ants deep underground, 
the stony drifts
and shrivels the drab sparse plants:
there's not a cloud in all the sky to cast a shadow
on the tremulous plain.

Stirless the windmills, thirsty cattle standing
despondently about the empty tanks
stamping and tossing their heads in torment of the flies
from dawn to dark.

For ten parched days it has been like this
and, although I love the desert,

I have found myself dreaming of upright gums
by a mountain creek where the red boronia blooms,
where bell-birds chime through the morning mists,
and greenness can hide from the sun;
of rock-holes where the brumbies slink
like swift cloud-shadows from the gidgi-scrub
to drink when the moon is low.

And as I stoop to drink, I too,
just as I raise my cupped hands to my lips,
I am recalled to this drought-stricken plain
by the petulant question 
of a summer-wearied child.

Born in 1913 in Charters Towers, Queensland, Flexmore Hudson was educated at Adelaide High School and graduated from the University of Adelaide. He began a teaching career in 1934 and taught in the Mallee, and at Scotch College in Adelaide and Adelaide Boys' High School. During the period 1941 to 1947 Hudson founded, edited and published the literary journal, “Poetry”. He also edited the 1943 anthology of Australian verse for Jindyworobak and contributed to the Jindyworobak anthologies from 1938 to 1953. He died in South Australia on 4th May 1988.

Some of the inspiration for his poetry came from his pupils. Whilst teaching at a small school (14 pupils) in the Mallee district of South Australia, the children would tell him of the things they had seen on the way to school.

Jacqui BB hosts Poetry Wednesday. Please visit her blog for more poems!

1 comment:

  1. You can feel the dryness in the words. It leaves me feeling thirsty. Very topical as we just had a report this week on climate change. We are told that here in the high mountain deserts of the west, we are predicted to have more frequent droughts.