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1785 The desert (Er deserto)
Translated by Peter Nicholas Dale


Christ’n Mary! God help me if I go back there,
Ta that farm, on some junket way outside a town.
I’d prefer . .how can I put it? . .I’d rather be bound
An knackered by a pigbutcher in Rotunda square.

A good ten mile trek, an not a tree or leaf in site!
At best, a bloke’ull bump in’a sum outcrop a rock!
A silence like spilt oil ev’rywhere, ut seems ta mock
Ya, an if ya scream, nowun’s there ta hear ya plite!

Wherever ya turn, the cuntryside’s bare
Like a carpenter’s plane ud jus’ passed that way:
There ain’ even a trace uva dwellen there.

The wun thing, the wun an only thing I foun’
Djuren the trip to an back was a dray
With a murdered drover lyen on the groun’.

27/5/2001 (revised 31/5/2001)
The sonnet is translated into "Strine", the dialect spoken in Australia down to the 1960s.


1785 The desert (orthographically normalized version)

Translated by Peter Nicholas Dale

Christ and Mary! God help me if I go back there,
Ta that farm, on some junket way outside of town.
I’d rather . . how can I put it? . .I’d rather be bound
And knackered by a pigbutcher in Rotunda square.

A good ten mile trek, and not a tree or leaf in sight!
At best, a bloke’ll bump into some outcrop of rock!
A silence like spilt oil everywhere, that seems to mock
You, and if you scream, no one’s there to hear your plight!

Wherever you turn, the countryside’s all bare,
Like a carpenter’s plane that’s just passed that way:
There ain’t even a trace of a dwelling there.

The one thing, the one an only thing I found
During the trip to an back was a dray
With a murdered drover lying on the ground.