Anniversary poems are written to celebrate memorable events, especially wedding anniversaries, though they can also commemorate dates with other special meanings for the poet. In the early decades of the nineteenth century Sydney poets often wrote songs and poems about what is now called Australia Day – January 26 – but was then known as Anniversary Day, being the anniversary of the first European settlement in Sydney. An example is Charles Tompson’s ‘A Song, for January 26, 1824’.
Many poets celebrate wedding anniversaries, either their own or those of friends or family. Another nineteenth-century poet, better known as a politician, Henry Parkes in ‘The Silver Wedding Day’ toasts the lasting success of his own marriage, as does Ada Cambridge in ‘An Anniversary’, in which she looks forward to a long and happy life with her husband. Among more recent poets, Craig Powell marks two years of marriage in ‘Album for a second anniversary’ while Peter Rose in ‘The Living Archive’ records the celebration of his parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. In ‘The Anniversary’ Jan Owen writes about another wedding anniversary celebration in a restaurant, but one she observes rather than takes part in.
Anniversary poems can also recall less happy events such as the anniversary of a loved one’s death. In ‘Cold Anniversary’, Jennifer Strauss recalls the death of her husband, while Peter Rose in ‘Ladybird’ remembers the deaths of both his brother and his father. In ‘The Unknown Anniversary’ A D Hope takes a characteristically wry look at an anniversary day none of us can predict, the date of our own death.