Jack Sorensen




His Poems

(115 known)

Original people

Blackmen's Pictures

Jengee Willara

The Blue Doe

Yenda Dwells Lone on the Range




The Banshee Called for Me

The Comet

The Unsuccessful Candidate


People and Places
of the Nor-West:

Bill Dooley Crosses the Styx


Condamine Bells (1939)

Fitzroy Campsite

His Town

How O'Leary Broke The Drought

How We Cashed The Pig

Legend of Strong Men

Little Brown Ghost

Lost Creek

Murphy and His Beer

My River

Quin's Vineyard (1939)

Shannon Glen

Song of Kimberley

Southbound Plane


St Patrick Came to Toodyay

The Beard of John Kerr

The Call of the North

The Dragon of the Spinifex

The Last of the Ghans

The Lost Shanty

The Mariner

The Road to Queensland

The Sea Waggon

The Turk

We Don't Ride Stolen Horses

When  Lacy Sings



Shearing and Such:

The Gun of Capricorn

The Glenburgh Wool Goes Down (1939)

The Hawker Comes to Waverley

The Lay of Civility Green

The Lost Shearing Team

The Man Who Called the Bishop 'Joe'

The Shed Hand's Prayer

The Tally Board

When Camel Pads Go Down


Bayley Street

Dolly Pots

Shemlock Train

Song of the State Battery

The Ghosts of Bayley Street

The Shemlock

The War Years:

By Adelaide River

Going South

Homing Bombers

Night March from Cypress Hill
(blank verse)

Pallid Scars
(blank verse)


The Dead Don't Care

'The Sandhills of Melville Sweep Down to the Sea'    and
Buglers at Melville Camp

To the Fallen Comrade
(blank verse)

Total War (blank Verse)

War Makers (1939)


9 Final Short Poems, ie

Brother, Go Slow
God and Poets
In the Grey Hall of
Myself, the Jacaranda
      and the Poinciana
Seek the Sun
Sun Quest
To a Lady
Women Knitting

His Books
and books of his poems

The Lost Shanty (1939)

The Collected Poems of
Jack Sorensen
Edited by Mary Durack 1950

The Ghosts of Bayley Street
reprint 1992 Hesperian Press
ISBN 0 85905 138 2

Jack Sorensen

Born: John Alfred Sorensen, 21 Aug 1907 Kalgoorlie, Western Australia

Died: 25 Jun 1949 Sydney, New South Wales


Jack Sorenson was one of only a few (known) bush poets who filled the gap when bush poetry was very much in the doldrums and considered a very minor form of the literary arts. This was the rather long period between the mid 1920s and the mid 1980s. 


Jack was born in Kalgoorlie in 1907, a second generation Australian of mixed Danish, Irish and English ancestry.  He grew up in the Swan Valley, near Perth; his first job being for his father who had taken up a fruit orchard in the district .  It was there, while at work that Jack made his early attempts at poetry, heard only by the lemon and apricot trees.  His father did not encourage his poetic endeavours, however his mother saw his potential and encouraged him to write.


As a young man, Jack found an ally in Mr R.S. Sampson, local member of the WA Parliament who was influential in having some of Jack's early poems published in local papers.

A strong, burly lad, although rather shy, Jack became interested in boxing, and took up the sport under the name of "Johnny Brown".  He was quite successful, becoming the WA welter weight champion.


Jack spent most of his younger adult life in Western Australia, moving from place to place chasing gainful employment. At various times he worked with cattle in the Kimberly's, as a shearer, as a labourer in the Goldfields and for a time in the southwest forest country.


Returning to Perth, Jack took up employment with his mentor, Mr Sampson, becoming the country representative for the United Press group of papers, much of his time being base in the WA Goldfields.  - he was therefore now in a position to promote his own poetry. 

Throughout much of his life he drew on these experiences to write poetry and songs mainly about life in rural Western Australia, often with an environmental theme.


With the outbreak of war, Jack developed a sense of doom which included his own involvement in it and so it was that in July 1942, Jack joined the Australian Army.  Most of his recruit training was at the Melville training camp. Following his recruit training he was attached to the 11th Btn which, at that time, was involved in the defence of northern Australia.

The death of his friend and mentor, Mr Sampson, greatly affected Jack's mental health to the point where he was no longer able to carry out his military duties.   He was discharged in March 1944 following which he returned to work for United Press, although he now had no need to for he had been left a substantial legacy by Mr Sampson.


Not long after his discharge, his mother also died, further deepening his melancholia.  In order to return to happier times, Jack returned to the Kimberleys but the inner peace he was seeking was not there, so in 1949, at age 42, returning to Perth he decided to fulfil a lifetime dream of going to the Queensland outback.  He sailed from Fremantle, but was never to reach his goal, for it was on the ship in Sydney, just a week or so short of his destination that Jack decided that his life was no longer worth living.



At some stage throughout his life, he had most of his poems published in various newspapers and in time published a few books. His poetry is now considered by many to be among the best of his era, in particular for his consistent rhythm which, at the time, was not considered "worthy" of consideration.  Such poets as he were largely derided by most the literati of his time. His poetic interests however did bring him into contact with some other literary people of his time, a few of whom became close friends, notably among them Mary Durack who, shortly after his death, collected and published his poems.  A number of his poems were set to music and to this day various folk music bands continue to include them in their repertoire.


I am told that Jack is buried at Midland (WA) and his headstone is inscribed
 Jack Sorensen 1906-1947..Weaver of Dreams,  Farewell.  -  these dates are somewhat in conflict with those given in his biography on "Austlit"   (the birth and death dates given above) - Jack's military records give his birth date as Aug 21, 1907, NSW Death index is 14710/1949)


I  would like to thank John McMicking for providing me with copies of many of Jack's poems  -  B.L.

###   NEW   ####
In 2017, the Australian Folk and Bush Poetry duet of Roger Montgomery and John Ingliss, who perform as "Dingo's Breakfast"  put together a CD of songs derived from Jack's poetry  which represent various aspects of Jack's life.  the CD is  called "Weaver of Dreams" .  just prior to the launch of the CD, they gave an interview on the ABC   you can hear it here  


Return to the WA Past Poets Page

Return to the WA Bush Poets Home Page