The Shore of Life by Robert Fitzgerald

Consultant in Poetry Robert Fitzgerald. Photo by Myriam Champigny


I came then to the city of my brethren.
Not Carthage, not Alexandria, not London.

The wide blue river cutting through the stone
Arrowy and cool lay down beside her,
And the hazy and shining sea lay in the offing.

Ferries, pouring the foam before them, sliding
Into her groaning timbers, rang and rang;
And the chains tumbled taut in the winches.

Upstream the matted tugs in the heavy water,
Their soiling smoke unwrapped by the salt wind,
Footed with snowy trampling and snowy sound.

On tethers, pointing the way of the tide,
The crusted freighters swung with their sides gushing.

On evening’s ship pointing northward,
A golden sailor at sunset stood at the bow,
As aloft in the strands a tramcar with tiny clanging
Slowly soared over, far upward and humming still.


Not Athens, Alexandria, Vienna or London.

And evening vast and clean above the city
Washed the high storeys with sea-light, with a silken
Sky-tint on the planes and the embrasures:
The clump of crags and glitter sinking eastward
With the slow world, the shadow-lipping shores,
Pale after-conflagration of the air.

On terraces, by windows of tiredness,
The eyes dropped from that glow to the dusk atremble,
Alive with its moving atomic monotone:

There the hot taxis at the pounding corner
Fitted their glossy flanks and shifted, waiting,
And the girls went by with wavering tall walking,
Their combed heads nodding in the evening:

The hour of shops closing, the cocktail hour,
Lighting desire and cigarettes and lighting
The strange lamps on the streaming avenue.

Robert Fitzgerald

Passionate poetry

About Russell Boyle

Russell Boyle is a mathematics teacher, writer, and poet. His poetry anthologies are titled The Beginning, Footprints and Loneliness. Russell is the author of the Year 7 to 8 Mathematics Short-Answer Tasks, the Year 7 to 10 Mathematics Multiple-Choice Tasks, the Year 9 to 10 Extended-Response Tasks, the solutions to the Year 12 VCAA Mathematics Exams and the Web-Programming For Beginners series of courses. Sample poems and questions may be downloaded from
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2 Responses to The Shore of Life by Robert Fitzgerald

  1. cindy knoke says:

    Thank you for introducing me to this brilliant poet Russel~

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