Apart from the devotional poetry of The Rue Tree, the poems are dominated by new preoccupations that were to remain important until the final pages of her last collection, Fourteen Men (1954): grief at environmental degradation, and concerns about Aboriginal history, culture and language.
Gilmore was anticipating the controversies of later decades. The Depression years reignited her indignation at the plight of the urban poor ‘Battlefields (1939), and her continuing speculative sympathy for those outcast from society by psychological or physical defects found its most extensive expression in The Disinherited (1942).
Yet Gilmore remained always a celebrant of life, of the need to meet its vicissitudes now with fortitude, now with delight, and to greet with fascination the ideas that changing circumstances produced. She was not afraid of consequent contradictions: the stern social critic was also the ebullient patriot of the poems written during World War II, and the advocate for lost species and lost tribes still wrote her praises of the pioneers. This volume contains all of Gilmore’s verse published between 1930 and her death in 1962 in her collections, and in magazines and newspapers.
Readers can, for the first time, see her multifarious themes and attitudes develop side by side by reading the poems in chronological sequence and in the rich historical context provided by the Preface and extensive annotation, as well as Gilmore’s own notes.