Beyond Khancoban


Beyond Khancoban the road winds into hills
That lead to the High Monaro of my birth.
I emerge from a pass to a vast blue valley which fills
My mind with those august presences of earth,

Austere in their stillness, great mountains that watch and abide,
Where trees stand tier above tier in the tranquil air,
Crowd that great theatre, pack it from side to side,
Feasted with music of which I am not aware.

A sky full of light pours down its viewless rain
On a landscape lost in its thoughts, as I in mine.
Places and names that echo and remain,
Khancoban, Kosciusko, Tom Groggin, Jindabyne,

Signal my way as I drive through the afternoon,
A silent pilgrim fulfilling an ancient vow.
The road winds, rises and veers like a difficult tune
Known always, but mastered for the first time now;

For the heart of this utter solitude has been tapped;
As I move on, the brooding landscape comes alive.
Now I catch the music that holds this audience rapt:
I am turning its world into music as I drive.

The car winding on becomes a centre of this
Perpetual wheeling of trees in their solemn dance,
Just as earth seems at night to spin the galaxies,
All illusory motion to our illusory stance,

Yet not a total illusion when all is said:
Though it does not happen out there, but in the mind,
The music itself is real; we are not misled,
But have glimpsed a mysterious function of mankind.

We have sampled a fragment of that mystery
By which the inanimate shakes to life and thought
And the universe shakes itself free from entropy
In whose dull net all frames of matter seem caught.

In our minds is it able to enter the dance;
Moved by our music things learn themselves and rejoice.
I would count it worth while to spend life for this single glance,
To have made them conscious in me, to have lent them my voice.

Now the blue-gums crowd in close to a tunnel of shade;
The car labours up to the pass. I think of the spot
To which I return, from which long ago I was made,
Cooma, and wonder whether it made me or not.

Man is made by all that has made the history of man,
Bnt here the Monaro claims me; I recognise
Beyond Khancoban the place where a mind began
Able to offer itself to the galaxies.

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