Tasmanian law professor and Catholic parish pastor Michael Tate, a justice minister in the Hawke-Keating governments and a former ambassador to the Netherlands and Holy See, drew on a W.H. Auden poem that had ‘hit him like a bombshell’ and led him to abandon life as a diplomat to study for the priesthood.
Auden had been asked to write an elegy for a brilliant poet dead at 35 after ‘too much booze, too much debauchery’.
‘Friends of the young poet thought Auden would write a poem which extolled the virtue for a poet of living on the edge of every experience however self-indulgent, however ultimately destructive’ce,’ Fr Tate said.
Without educating youth, ‘Australia may be condemned to the fringes of the world’s most dynamic region. Education is empowering for them as individuals and empowering to us as a society.’