Shelley Hansen - Lady of Lines

Poem of the Month

September 2017

My home town of Maryborough Queensland is famous for its "old Queenslander" houses - timber high-set construction with wide verandahs, suited to our warm climate. My poem pays tribute to this Australian innovation - and was selected for publication in the Bronze Swagman Book of Bush Verse back in 2012.

Song of the Queenslander
© Shelley Hansen 2012

When you’re travelling North of the Border
and you’re passing through cities and towns,
keep an eye out – you’re certain to notice
(from the Tropics right through to the Downs)
the "Old Queenslander” – that’s what they call me.
I am etched in this State’s chequered past,
dating back to a time less oppressive
when the pace of life wasn’t so fast.

When the white men first came to this country
from their homelands, their house plans they brought,
and created a copy of Europe –
to preserve their traditions, they sought.
But in Southern States, weather is cooler –
they don’t have weeks of long summer days
when the coast is sweat-bathed from the ocean,
and the western plains bake to a glaze.

As necessity mothers invention,
so it was that my birth came to be.
When the settlements spread further northward,
very quickly the builders could see
that a new style of housing was needed –
raised on stumps, with a strong hardwood frame.
So for families living in Queensland,
soon the homestead of choice I became.

For my rooms were both airy and spacious,
and my large windows captured the breeze.
My verandah stood cool and inviting
in the shadow of large leafy trees.
But I’m sure I have rightly suspected
it was "under the house” they liked best –
where the kids scraped my dirt to play marbles,
and the old folk sat down for a rest.

I have housed both the rich and the famous,
generations of "working class” too;
and at times I have been out of fashion
when they wanted to find something new.
But opinions keep turning full circle
and I’ve come into favour again,
and I smile with a secret amusement
at the follies and foibles of men.

For they talk of the "Climate Smart Option”
to ensure that our footprint is "green”;
and it reads like a specification
of the things that I always have been.
So I still grace the streets of the suburbs,
and my grand design passes the test –
which just proves, though the fashions keep changing,
that the old ways are often the best!

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