Inspirational poems enable us to see the world in new ways, whether offering hope for a better future, speaking of faith in a loving god or depicting the beauty of nature and the innate goodness of mankind. In Australian poetry, they tend mainly to have been written by earlier poets such as George Essex Evans. His inspirational poems express faith in the ability of the human race to achieve their desires, as in ‘Ad Astra’, meaning ‘To the stars’, as well as praising values such as Hope and Truth, as in ‘The Song of Life!’ Evans also wrote a number of nationalistic poems about the future greatness of Australia, including ‘Australia’ and ‘A Federal Song’. Another earlier poet, Robert Crawford, wrote in more abstract terms about many of the same human values described by Evan. His inspirational poems include ‘The Finer Spirit’ and ‘Aspiration’. In a poet entitled ‘Inspiration’ Crawford refers to ‘The vital and inspiring breath/ With which ideas are sown’.
It is interesting to find a similar image being used by a much more recent Australian poet, David Malouf, in his poem entitled ‘Inspirations’, which refers to the wind ‘blowing to you/the message you’ll make no sense of’, but whose meaning will become clear over time. In ‘An Apology for his Making’, Randolph Stow asserts that his role as poet involves the determination to bring beauty to places where there is none. A large number of poems by James McAuley, especially those written towards the end of his life after he had been diagnosed with cancer, can be classed as inspirational poems. Many of these poems evoke an everyday scene that the poet sees as imbued with a special meaning. ‘In the Huon Valley’, for example, which is set in the Huon’s apple orchards and packing sheds, ends by asserting the value of life, as does also ‘At Rushy Lagoon’ and ‘In a Late Hour’. A Catholic convert, McAuley also wrote many poems testifying to his continuing faith in God, such as ‘To the Holy Spirit’ and ‘Celebration of Divine Love’.