Writings and Witterings

Ten Pound Poms


The skyline of the Sydney central business dis...

Crowds line

the docks in

the nineteen fifties,

Waiting to sail to

a new land, they’re thrifty;

They’ve paid just a tenner to

get on the ship

And want a lot

more than just a round trip.

A land called


arouses their dreams,

They think with

nostalgia of Britain, it seems.

Passports in hands, papers

in luggage,

They yearn for

the new world,

 new life,

new mortgage.

They spurn

the old world, the doled world, the cold world,

They are excited,

celebrating …


Citizenship promised after

only one year,

And warmth, their skin,

bones, eyes become


Some will be famous in

due course, perhaps,

The new life that beckons is

free of all traps,

And they dream of fame on

 the stage or in


The future is bright and

there will be betterment,

The scheme


 to other nations,

Many, it seems,

seek a change of


‘Please stay for two years or

refund the money,’

This is the land

of beer

and dunny.

Going to work in a new place,

With a

new face,

Without trace,


Polly Stretton © 2013

The new structure for this poem came out of the Arvon residential I attended in November 2012. I think it rather effective and would value your comments. It’s also posted to dVerse poets tonight as it’s about new beginnings, just right for the New Year.


64 thoughts on “Ten Pound Poms

  1. i love the discovery spirit in this…i think it must have been frightening in a way but also beautifully exciting and adventurous…had the opportunity to spend a month in sydney on work and met lots of people who told me the stories about how their ancestors moved to australia.. a perfect new years post as well…let’s go and discover that new land 2013…smiles.. happy new year


  2. Mmmm … travel and adventure ~ quite a combo 🙂

    I’ve never been to Australia ~ would love to go ~ my birth mother was a ‘Ten Pound Pom’ ~ settled there.

    Maybe not this year … next? 🙂


  3. I think it gets your attention and you follow a thought more successfully


  4. I enjoyed this. The lure of a new beginning is often very attractive. I forget this happened in Australia so recently. Your poem makes me want to read a novel about that period in Australian history. Interestingly, in my blog today I have a photo of Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Let me know if you can suggest a novel.


    • Delighted to see you enjoyed it, Mary. New beginnings are often very attractive ~ and all this is, of course, in living memory.

      Loved your post today, great pic of the opera house and harbour bridge, lovely poem.

      Wish I could suggest a novel, but can’t for that era. It might be an idea to ask the good folk on goodreads?


  5. I’ve wanted to see Australia ever since I saw Finding Nemo!!! LOL Silly I know but the only thing I knew about Australia was from Crocodile Dundee!!! LOL (I’m from Iowa)


  6. Oh, what a wonderful poem, full of history and life… We all still want the same things, but there are no more new worlds–we have to find our newness here.


  7. Polly on iPhone so can’t fully see the structure but a very cool poem in terms of content and the line breaks are very effective. K.


  8. you make it sound so mysterious and inviting…as i imagine it was for those off to find that new place…what an adventure the age of discovery was….if i was to change times i think that is when i would love to go…hard life, but worked for and lived…


    • Doesn’t it make you wonder what it must have been like ~ the courage, sense of excitement, sailing off into the unknown ~ quite the adventurers ‘eh? So many of them stayed, yet a fair few came back …


  9. I think moving to a new land is not a bad idea these days. Love the structure, Polly.

    Happy 2013!!


  10. The structure kind of rolled like the waves, cool.


  11. very beautiful structure, it feels so open – there’s room to breathe. matches the story you told well… while reading, i felt like standing on a ship bound for distant shores. wonderful.


  12. Thanks for commenting on the structure, Miriam, ‘room to breathe’ giving the words space to mirror their meaning, was one of the reasons for the structure.


  13. Lots of immigrants came in the 50s and 60s and built this great land of ours. This is nostalgic and I really like the structure. Nicely done 🙂


  14. You’re right! There was a frost this morning. Pretty but chilly.

    Have some ice cream! ~ love the title of your blog 🙂


  15. Love this piece – the fragmented lines create an interesting juxtaposition to the theme.

    It’s one of those things – my mother just received an e-mail out of the blue from the library in Freemantle saying they had a family bible in their collection that may have belonged to a relation. No-one could find this person, and it had taken some detective work on behalf of the librarian. New face, without a trace… indeed.


  16. Great wonderings of the motives, the feelings and complications of a migration. I think the rhyme matched to content perfectly and made the read entertaining.

    I don’t like the title because it is a puzzle (well, to me) and I like titles that are friendly — that offer a kind start on a journey — some orientation. I don’t enjoy poem titles that you have to look back and re-read to understand AFTER you read the poem.

    Writers try to be cute or allusive in their titles to sneak in an element of depth — I think it is the wrong place to do that. Yours doesn’t do that, I think you are trying to be funny.

    I had to look up Pom — and still don’t understand the title.

    Pom: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=pom

    A bland title like: The Australian Migration, Immigrant Dreams or such would be to my aesthetics. But we are all different.

    That was my constructive criticism. But I loved the poem! I know nothing of the migration or the land. This help get me thinkin’ about it.


    • Thank you for your response to ‘Ten Pound Poms’, Sabio and for your comments on structure and content.

      I understand your concerns re the title, ‘ten pound’, as you probably worked out, relates to British currency, the cost of migrating in those days, it was inexpensive.

      ‘Poms’ is how Aussies often refer to Brits. I decided to use it as it’s nicely alliterative and somewhat amusing (as you guessed).

      You’re so right about us having differing preferences, but then, life would be very boring if we all thought the same!

      I’m glad you enjoyed it, despite the title 🙂


  17. this form suits the subject so vividly. loved this read, Polly.


  18. This has some real lyricism, some great poetic hooks and rhymes…. great historical piece, would have been cool to experience the buzz. Australia still has that buzz for me…I’ll get there…one day!


  19. heh-heh … I feel that way too, Stu ~ I’d love to get there one day ~ thanks very much for your comments 🙂


  20. Wonderful sense of adventure and expectation in this piece, and like the way you constructed the forward look of your sentences. Nice work!


  21. I felt you captured the real sense of the yearning well here, Polly, and even though there were quite few abstract nouns, and less of your typically playful verse, it all pulled together rather well I thought.


    • Now’t wrong with the odd abstract noun, they all have their place 🙂 Glad you think it pulled together OK, Andy.


      • It’s a great piece Polly, and a mark of the progress you’re making – I’m just hanging onto your coat tails to learn! No pressure mind . . .


        • Ach … we’re all learning ~ the day I don’t learn anything is the day I’ll know I’m ready for the next place …

          On another note ~ I read my Pantoum: Trust tonight at a spoken word event and it went down really well, I was so pleased. I’d worked hard on that poem. As you’ll know Pantoum’s are not easy, so it was great that people responded to it so favourably. I’m planning to perform it at the next two events, that’s a mark of how delighted I was with it tonight 🙂 You might remember it, Andy, you said ‘… the content has a here and now quality, with the participants on the edge of something …’ and the audience tonight seemed to agree 🙂


          • ‘Ach … we’re all learning ~ the day I don’t learn anything is the day I’ll know I’m ready for the next place … ‘

            That sums it up. But can I just add that those who are willing to post or perform their material whatever stage it’s at should get bonus points for courage? My roots are in punk rock (Pistols, Clash et al), and those guys really blew away the cobwebs for ordinary folk like me who got inspired. And I still get inspired now by the terrific stuff all around us on the web, It’s really quite an incredible time to be alive in many ways, despite all the negative stuff going on globally. I’ll stop gushing now . . .


            • It’s a real buzz to get up there and read, nerve-racking, but ace ~ we’re lucky in Worcester, there is a great writerly community (literary is probably the word I should use, but hey @$%&**) you should come see Parole Parlate or 42 sometime, Andy. Do you perform your work anywhere?


  22. Well done, Polly!
    It’s all there, isn’t it: the readiness, the hope, the nerves, the trying out different (new) ways. Have you had any responses from Australian followers?


    • I worked hard to capture that sense of anticipation / excitement / apprehension, so I’m glad it works for you, Roland. I think just one Australian guest has commented, which was a lovely surprise. Comments from all over the world though, especially USA. Lot’s of people would love to visit Aus, including me 🙂 one day 🙂


  23. Love the layout – it reminds me of choppy waves and gives a feel of the sea voyage. Fabulous poem!


  24. Really wonderful as everyone has told you!!!!


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