“There is Some Sweetness Not to be Seen in Air”

Photography: Trish Jean

I couldn’t resist a short walk today to photograph the bridge at Nowra that straddles the Shoalhaven River. Originally intended to be a railway bridge, and known as the gateway to the South Coast, the 342-metre bridge was completed in 1881. According to the heritage and conservation register:

“The bridge is the only American pin-jointed Whipple truss in service in NSW … there are eight main spans supported on eight pairs of cast iron cylindrical piers and a steel girder approach span at one end”

The future of the bridge is under consideration. For now, it is fringed in parts by Jacarandas in bloom and whilst I didn’t have the DSLR with me I took some pictures anyway to share the beauty that dresses the trees, comes and goes too quickly and that lays not even long on the ground. Douglas Stewart’s beautiful poem below the pictures is too good not to share here also.

The Jacaranda

Douglas Stewart

There is some sweetness not to be seen in air,
Not to be trapped in rain, not to be found
In earth, that made this sky of blossoms flare
In blue and sparkling daylight out of the ground;
Some struggle of more than earth is in triumph here
In that gesture of joy and fulfilment lifted on high
Where, dancing with pale blue fire, the branches rear
And the dark twigs hold the sky up to the sky.

Touch the tree with your hand: it is only wood,
A pillar of rain and earth; and what will you find
But rain and earth in its flowers or curious blood?
Yet you cannot hold this tree in a hand of the mind.
Its roots in the earth where some blaze of midnight is lost,
Its boughs in the light wherein more than the stars is concealed,
The jacaranda flames on the air like a ghost,
Like a purer sky some door in the sky has revealed.

While the blue shade falls like a blessing on grass and stone,
I feel the Presence who waited all winter with me
And worked unseen while I watched, with rain and sun
And earth in her hands to make of a simple tree
The loveliest mask that beauty wears on earth.
Is it her banner and symbol the branches bear,
Or the living spirit herself come down to birth,
Glowing in a flesh of blossoms upon the air?

There was a day when the mountain lories came
Through the creekside gums in such a red flash of grace
That a whole mountainside was turned to flame;
I have seen the glory glow white in a woman’s face;
But never more clearly than here on this delicate pyre
Where petals fall as the flames of sacrifice climb
Have I seen that manifold Presence, that triumph of fire
That flashes from nowhere down into space and time.

All things move in time as they move in a dream;
Abrupt, symbolic, like mountains seen through a rift,
They tower and vanish. I watched the wavering gleam
As the branches paled in the blue sky’s darkening drift,
And more than a tree before me ebbed and returned.
While I could hold it, before I was dazed and blind,
The jacarandas sprang in the sky and burned,
And the flare of it lit in the mind a sky without end.

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2 thoughts on ““There is Some Sweetness Not to be Seen in Air”

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