Adam Lindsay Gordon, Australian bush poets, Australian formalist poetry, Australian traditional poetry, Bush Poetry, Dennis N. O'Brien, poem, poetry
I went to a small bush school of only thirty or so children and two teachers. The headmaster was keen on Australian poetry and one of the poems we all had to memorise was The Sick Stock Rider by Adam Lindsay Gordon; I still remember most of the poem today.
In her Christmas message in 1992 Queen Elizabeth the second referred to the year as her “annus horribilis” due to all the tragedies and misfortunes that had beset the Royal Family during that year.
In her speech she quoted from Adam Lindsay Gordon’s poem Ye Weary Wayfarer, when she said: “Kindness in another’s trouble, courage in one’s own”, but unfortunately didn’t acknowledge the author. It’s difficult to believe that the Queen would not know from where this quote came so we must consider it an accidental oversight.
Gordon is arguably Australia’s first poet of note and is the only Australian poet to have a bust of his likeness placed in poet’s corner at Westminster Abbey.
Gordon was an adventurer, a brilliant horseman and a gifted poet, but a poor businessman and in the end in his own eyes a failure.
On the morning of the 24th of June 1870 Gordon, sick, depressed, and burdened with debt that he could not repay, walked into the tea tree scrub near his house and shot himself. He was 36 years old.
“Life is mostly froth and bubble
Two things stand like stone —
Kindness in another’s trouble.
Courage in your own.”
A.L. Gordon – from “Ye Weary Wayfarer”
Great horseman, poet, man of dreams,
A tragic waste, or so it seems,
But then most poets could do worse
Than have their Queen quote from their verse.
D. N. O’Brien
Image from Wikipedia
Thomas Davis said:
Thanks for the short primer on Australian poetry, Dennis. I do have a two volume anthology of Australian poetry and have dipped into it in many years, but I think you’ve talked me into taking your post and taking a look at the poets you’ve mentioned here.
Dennis N. O'Brien said:
The two poets who were the most popular amongst the people were Henry Lawson and A.B. (Banjo) Paterson and they are still household names today. No poets since have connected with Australians as did those two. Of course a lot of their poetry centers on Australia so some of the terms and words may take some understanding but much of it is universal.
Also, may I add, the likes of these gents, Lawson, Paterson, Gordon and the renowned lady bush poet, Dorothea McKellar, are still an inspiration to many of us today.
Although I have begun exploring Urban Poetry at this time I still find myself falling back into the Aussie Bush Poetry as a favourite genre.
God bless them one and all and poets overall…
Very nice post, Dennis!
What a lovely poem of tribute you’ve offered here, Dennis. But how sad was Gordon’s end. I always feel a sense of loss when I learn of the death of one who was specially gifted with creativity. And it’s even more sad to think he felt the need to take his own life. But your words are true. Very few poets ever have the leaders of their nations quoting their words.