Zwicky, Fay

Australia, (1933-2017)

Gall Tripartite

  1. I Cold Ham for Sigmund
  3. Heriger, bishop of Mainz, saw a prophet who said he had been carried off to hell. Among other details, he revealed that hell was surrounded by dense woods. To this, bishop Heriger replied with laughter: “In that case I’ll send my swineherd to that grazing ground and get him to take my thin pigs with him.”
          — From the MS. of St. Augustine
  5. The clever cleric knows the rules,
  6. A recognized authority
  7. On all the grids and cul-de-sacs
  8. Of limbo, hell and purgatory.
  10. Good citizens of Mainz rejoice
  11. That Heriger is in the chair!
  12. If what you thought was hell today
  13. He’ll let you know it wasn’t there
  15. Tomorrow. Arch-rotarian, he will
  16. Send his cheerful pigs to make
  17. Reconnaissance, investigate
  18. Infernal sprawl, pronounce it fake.
  20. So keep it underneath your hat
  21. If demons seize you by the hair,
  22. For Mainz prefers its porkers fat
  23. And heavenly fodder’s everywhere.
  25. II Look here, Vladimir…
  27. You! European you, with the
  28. Pained fastidious bones,
  29. Take off your exclusive cross and hush
  30. Your cheery omniscient groans.
  31. What makes you suppose yourself to
  32. Be so final an authority
  33. On the stink of suffering’s rose?
  35. Do I have to wave an Auschwitz stump
  36. To attest my fitness, pour
  37. Mieux comprendre the
  38. Pacific equine rump
  39. Of Bosch, the wart
  40. On the conjurer’s nose?
  42. III Plus Ça Change…
  44. Old Henry commiserates with Hedda,
  45. (A rusted pistol rattles to the floor)
  46. Manipulates as beautifully as ever
  47. Seraphic permit to terrestrial door.
  48. Both find that they have in them to agree
  49. Upon the source of their infirmity.
  51. The screw turns aimlessly into the silt,
  52. Hélas, it only pricks a barren spring;
  53. The coupled squeak with boredom from the quilt
  54. Mechanically doing their own thing.
  55. Observing simple pleasures never cloy,
  56. Our pair retrieve their winding sheets with joy.

 Fay Zwicky. Isaac Babel’s Fiddle. Adelaide: Maximus Books (1975).


  1. Snagged between Fretwork for Beginners and
  2. 1000 Hints for Handymen, the Poetry.
  3. Discriminating, idle for a day
  4. I attend the Contents, soothing page — no one
  5. I know, no one my age. Strangers sorted,
  6. Focused by sex, View of a Pig — clearly a
  7. Man. Helen’s Rape — what else but?
  8. Never woman’s heroine (‘She always had it
  9. Coming to her,’ said the aunts of
  10. Menelaus, ‘No pride, that’s her trouble.’)
  11. Requiem for Plantagenet Kings? Who but a
  12. Male would so squirm? Female madness
  13. Assumes more desperate form.
  14. Titles plead literacy: (‘I contemplate’, ‘I count
  15. For something’, ‘So you think you can scan’,
  16. ‘Not for nothing did I read Classics, major
  17. In History’ they shout at me.
  18. But Bedtime Story for my Son, Childless
  19. Woman, The Abortion, Her Kind, throw me
  20. A minute. As in most affairs of the heart a
  21. Moral smoulders in it.
  22. One must confess, despite
  23. Contrary medical evidence (a Johns Hopkins
  24. Psychologist no less) to a difference,
  25. No matter the thousand mature female
  26. Rats caged with the newborn; who needs
  27. A rat? Menstruation, gestation, lactation
  28. Haven’t the dash of impregnation, but
  29. Culturally determined? Optional?
  30. Poets tell more than most,
  31. Inflate the heart or pulp it.
  32. Men order such things; women just can’t help it.
  33. Enough never enough, the whole hog rendered from
  34. Birth to conception to birth. Man diverts with
  35. Nicely weighed perception, unseemly
  36. (Or so women seem to think) mirth.
  37. Small wonder that men then
  38. Like women, envy them even, dimly recalling roosting
  39. Long into the night, high in a star-pricked heaven,
  40. Powerless to write.

About the Poet:

Fay Zwicky (born: Julia Fay Rosefield), Australia, (1933-2017), was a poet,
short story author, reviewer, anthology editor, essayist and an accomplished concert pianist. She was also a lectureship in American and Comparative Literature at the University of Western Australia from 1972 until her retirement in 1987.

Zwicky’s first collection of poems, Isaac Babel’s Fiddle, was published in 1975. She has since published another seven poetrycollections, mostly since her retirement from the university.

In 2005 Zwicky won both the Patrick White Award and the FAW Christopher Brennan Award. In 2004 she was declared one of the Western Australian State’s Living Treasures. Zwicky’s poems explore gender, the Jewish faith, and the use and misuse of political power and about the patriarchal silencing of the voices and experiences of women. [DES-04/18]

Additional information:

A random image of a pig, hog, boar or swine from the collection at Porkopolis.