Wednesday, April 28, 2010

118. The history train

Draft 1 - Prose

History is a continuation, with neither beginnings nor endings, just way-stations on a journey. This is The Rocks. This is the western side of Sydney Cove. We are looking westwards up Argyle Street through the Argyle Cut. This is where the convicts and the soldiers lived in the early days of European settlement on this great southern land. Originally, it was a wall of rocks clambering up to a ridge, a ridge than ran down a promontory to the harbour’s edge. To the left and to the right, are the oldest inhabited areas of the city of Sydney. However, they look nothing like they did in 1787, nor like they did in 1802, nor 1822, nor 1841, nor 1911, nor 1926, nor 1932 nor any year since then. All that can be claimed for this historical area is that this is where x happened. X no longer is apparent. The history train has moved on.

Draft 2 - Verse

Waving to the western shore
Phillip consigned the convicts and
His company of marines
To the hell-hole called The Rocks.

Forty years on the history train transplants
The temporary hospital tents uptown
Reconfiguring dusty Main Way
To the elegance of George Street.

Striding over the dusty cobbles
With his jaunty cock hat fluttering
Macquarie declared this Argyle Street
In memory of his homeland.

Forty years on the history train cuts
Through the rocky escarpment
Enabling access to The Garrison
And The Lord Nelson.

Barney remodels the shoreline into
A stone-walled semi-circular quay
Enabling Campbell’s merchant ships
Access to wharfs and warehouses.

Forty years on the history train
Buries the source of fresh water
Constructing cheek by jowl terraces
To house workers for the burgeoning city.

Bradfield sets his theodolite
To work joining the two harbour shores
Demolishing elegant Princes Street while
Providing employment during the Depression.

History constructs and destructs.

Draft 3 - Ballad

The history train must move along
The convicts must be worked.

Phillip sailed into the Cove
And laid his cargo down.
Consigned his convicts to The Rocks
To carve out Sydney Town.

The history train must move along
The colony must progress.

Macquarie had a master plan
A grand vision in his head.
With Greenway as his architect
He laid out streets in grids.

The history train must move along
The merchants must grow strong.

Barney was an engineer
Building with sandstone blocks.
Square barracks up upon the hill
Circular wharves upon the shore.

The history train must move along
The politicians demand a say.

Bradfield dug beneath the town
To allow the trains to run.
Then flung girders from the rocky shore
And bridged the great divide.

The history train must move along
The people must have jobs.

The history train the past destroys
Then rises from the ruins.


Julie said...

I think this was the hardest yet. I could notget the image to say anything to me. So eventually, about 7pm, I just typed anything to get me started. By the time I had the block of text labelled Draft 1, then the title popped into my head. I knew that would be my refrain. I had also heard a story about Macquarie naming all the Argyle things down at The Rocks. So I started with that verse and only THEN realised that I would trace through from Phillip.

By the time I got to the end of Draft 2, I knew that I wanted to craft a ballad, but, I don't know how to do that yet.

But have a story about Henry Lawson to write first. So ... for the first time ... today's entry is not complete.

diane said...

The Verse is very good. It would take me hours to think up anything in verse.

Joan Elizabeth said...

I prefer the prose on this one. It gained real momentem as it rolled along ... like a train.

Joan Elizabeth said...

Love the ballad. The train really gets rolling in that.