Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The Horologicon as a Song (and Wombats and Apples)

File:Rossetti's Wombat Seated in his Master's Lap (William Bell Scott).jpg
Exciting musical developments below. But first more things antipodean.

The climax of the Sydney Writer's Festival will fall on the 175-and-a-halfth anniversary of the arrival of Maria Ann Smith in Sydney. Maria lived at Kissing Point in Sydney (well then it was near Sydney, now it's in), where she found an apple growing. The apple had seeded itself from a barrel of crab apples from Tasmania, and it turned out to be rather delicious. Also, its oily skin meant that it would keep longer than most apples. It was cultivated and named after its discoverer. And that is where we get Granny Smith apples from.

And now for today's wombat poem. The Victorian poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti ordered a mail-order wombat. You could do that sort of thing in those days. They were heady times for the wombat lover. However, the mail was slow and poor Dante had to wait in impatient expectation for his pet to arrive. This must have been a difficult time for him and he set down his emotions in a poem that went like this:

O how the family affections combat
Within this heart, and each hour flings a bomb at
My burning soul! Neither from owl nor from bat
Can peace be gained until I clasp my wombat.

I'm not making that up.

But most importantly, the wonderful Bookshop Band have turned the Horologicon into a song. I was there at the premiere in Bath last November, but it is now up on you tube. You can watch it here, or follow this link to see it with the lyrics next door. I'm gloriously happy.


  1. May I humbly offer a mild criticism? It's 'its' not 'it's'.

  2. At the risk of pre-empting tomorrow's wombat poem, my better half points me to this rather wonderful drawing of Rosetti mourning his dead pet:

    1. Damn you! You're pre-empting tomorrow's wombat poem.

  3. How had I not read this amazing wombat poem before?! The suffering is so intense.. Must.. clasp.. wombat..
    I like the Granny Smith fun fact - Now do you have any poems about wombats and apples?