Where I'm From

An invitation came for Poetry Friday. Jone posted her poem with a great picture of a "Poetree" made up of poem postcards. Linda posted a challenge on her blog that suggested 'translating' a mentor poem into our own.

My mentor poem: The Waste Land. T.S. Elliott
(Read the full poem here https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47311/the-waste-land)

I've been studying this poem through the University of Cambridge Winter Festival of Learning. Elliott's language is dense so I'm adding some levity here while also addressing Walk My World (#le3) with Ian O'Bryne and students. This is a #twoforone.

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IV. Death by Water

Phlebas the Phoenician, a fortnight dead,
Forgot the cry of gulls, and the deep sea swell
And the profit and loss.

                            A current under sea
Picked his bones in whispers. As he rose and fell
He passed the stages of his age and youth
Entering the whirlpool.

                            Gentile or Jew
O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.

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Where I'm From

Shadrach the cattle dog, long gone but in my heart,
Made me forget my worries with his wide grin,
wagging tail and ready to work attitude.

                                The farm was ubiquitous
It was my youth, collecting eggs from the chooks
Milking cows and exploring paddock corners.
I learnt respect for nature's rules.

                                The gully rarely filled with water
Witnessing birth and death, made sense to me then
My father's practical sense, my mother grew vegetables.
My siblings found their own loves and losses.

                                Then big city adventures
Where nobody cared but you had to care for something
I often bonded with other country folk
Treading concrete tracks, painted by dusk.

                               A culture of observation
Skyline marked by sea and sand and pine trees
The farmers daughter moves quietly on.

by Wendy Taleo (2021)


  1. This is beautiful, Wendy. So much woven seamlessly into this gentle flowing patchwork of life. I loved/laughed at your line about your father/mother. And that second last stanza was me/is! How wonderful to find you on the Poetry Friday rounds! Is this your first time linking in? Or have I just missed the weeks you've been here before? Either way, I'm so glad you're here. :)

    1. Thank you Kat for reading. Yes, first time dropping in to #PoetryFriday. I remember you mentioning it last year during the course I joined in. So much poetry to read.....just lovely.

  2. I'm glad you found your way to POetry Friday and joined in. Welcome! Your poem is beautiful.

  3. Fun, and you couldn't really call The Waste Land fun!

    1. I agree Ruth, I would not have attempted to read and reflect on Elliot's The Waste Land without guidance. The tutor discussed this poem as a 'reason' for academic courses and scholars to even exist! I'm still working through it.

  4. Welcome, Wendy, to Poetry Friday. You've brought a beautiful post to ponder. I began my life in a small town with farm family, too, so love reading about your journey as I thought about mine, too. I love your words, "A culture of observation", yes! And now as I walk in a city, finding as many lovely parks as I can, I wonder at those who also walk, but looking down at their phones.

  5. So happy to have you here! Your poem has some beautiful lines....”treading concrete tracks, painted by dusk.”
    I hope you’ll return to Poetry Friday. We are a wonderful community

    1. Thanks Jone for hosting and the warm welcome. I'm so heartened by the community and the generous comments here.

  6. Hi Wendy, I grew up in a rural area, though not a farm, but can relate to your second poem. It's beautiful, the contrast with city life. Studying The Wasteland must be stretching you as a poet. I was just reading about it, that it was inspired, I believe by the 1918 pandemic? I'd love to learn more.


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