Kenneth Slessor and the Chinese
Kenneth Slessor is accepted by virtually every literary commentator as one of Australia's most important poets but no-one has commented on the young Slessor's concern with China. This is because the concern appears only in his early work, and of the ten poems he wrote concerning China, only two, 'Thoist' and 'Marco Polo', were included in One Hundred Poems and Poems, the selections of his work studied by scholars and students for over forty years. Four of the poems--'Marco Polo', 'Old Chinese Poem', 'Taoist', and 'An Old Harp'--were included in Slessor's first book, Thief of the Moon (1924) and the other six were never collected. An eleventh poem, number VII of 'The Old Play', quotes from an anonymous ancient Chinese poem, 'Oaths of Friendship'. All of the poems appear in Kenneth Slessor: The Collected Poems, edited by Geoffrey Dutton and myself, and published in August 1994.
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Published 1 October 1996 in Volume 17 No. 4. Subjects: Australian literature - Comparisons with overseas literature, Chinese culture, Chinese literature & writers, Literary influences, Writer's craft, Kenneth Slessor.