Nanna’s Poems to her Grandchildren

Nanna’s Poem for Geoffrey on his First Birthday


If I peep from my window, what is it I see

At the edge of the bush, near the top of that tree?

It’s black Mr Crow, who aaarrks his hello,

To me,



Kooka chuckles and laughs as he swoops on a bee,

But he doesn’t distract his attention from me.

Sun gleams through the trees; breeze rustles the leaves,

At me,



Wattle spreads out her skirts, bowing low on the ground,

And Magpie and Butchie excitedly sound

A great bushland cheer, “Your birthday is here!”




Nanna 16.2.83



Nanna’s Poem for Gregory on his First Birthday


Greggy, Greggy, can you hear

Me warn you not to come too near?

There’s soggy bread between your toes

And vegemite right up your nose.

Your hair’s all gummed with frozen honey

And I don’t think that’s very funny.


Greggy, Greggy, can’t you see

You’ve rubbed it off all over me.

And, Lord Almighty, what’s that smell?

It’s oozing out – oh bloody hell –

And dripping down upon the floor.

I don’t think I can stand much more!


Greggy, Greggy, please be calm

Don’t wrap your legs around my arm

Or arch your back or twist and turn.

Oh, blimey, will you never learn

Not to make a song and dance –

I’m only trying to change your pants.


Greggy, Greggy – oh my God –

You’ve broken that, you little sod!

Play with these safe plastic pegs –

But no, you’re off on bandy legs,

You’ll steer your own collision course

But must you crash with quite that force?


Greggy, Greggy, please be quiet

It’s barely dawn, and I’m so tired.

Will you cease that rattling, squeaking,

Banging, wingeing, crying, shrieking?

My bed’s so cosy, soft as silk –

Ah, well, I’ll go and warm your milk.


Greggy, Greggy, there you go

Why do I adore you so?

Just when I can’t stand the pace,

A cheeky grin transforms your face.

Your chubby arms grab at my dress,

I’m overwhelmed with tenderness.

You rub your nose between my eyes –

How could I have your otherwise?


Nanna 11.2.85



Nanna’s Poem for Janet on her First Birthday


Warm rain embraces the cliffs round the bay,

The sea in the harbour is coloured soft grey,

Wattles cascade down the sides of the rocks,

Seagulls swoop, beaching, in shrill hungry flocks.


Born at the loveliest time of the year,

Child of the Spring, we welcome you here,

Blue are your eyes and spun gold your hair,

A nose that uptilts, skin rose-blushed and fair.


What can I give you little spring girl?

An emerald, a diamond, a translucent pearl?

This land and the bush, the sea and its shores,

By birthright, you see, are already yours.


So I’ll give you freesias to love through your life,

Their fragrance, their colours of cream, gold and white,

Like sun on the sand in a shallow rock pool,

A glittering citrine I give as your jewel,


Sickness and sorrow one day you will face,

For these I bestow on you courage and grace.

Be loyal and loving, little spring maid,

Compassion and humour surpass purest jade.


Nanna 9.9.85



Nanna’s Poem for Gareth on his First Birthday


Ti-tree was restless, she shook her white stars

As soft in the sunlight a child’s spirit passed.

Wild orchids were nodding for they also knew

That that little spirit was passing them, too.


The waves on the shore whispered softly that week,

The pink and white heath was aglow by the creek

And this nebulous thing was winging its way

To a life that was destined before noon that day.


And there in the bush nursing hospital room

This spirit sank into a shape in a womb.

Gippsland was waiting; the bush creatures stirred

When the very first cry of Gareth was heard.


Your first year has gone now – how swiftly it passed,

You round little pudding, you’re growing too fast.

Bright button eyes which light up with fun

We won’t hold you back just because you are one.


As age encroaches, from roots you’ll be blown,

Return for a while, and visit alone.

Go back in the spring to the place of your birth

And pause for a while to ponder your worth.


Nanna 17.9.86


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