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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY

OF CALIFORNIA

LOS ANGELES




ADAM LINDSAY GORDON.



POEMS



BY



ADAM LINDSAY GORDON.



SEA SPRAY AND SMOKE DRIFT.

BUSH BALLADS AND GALLOPING RHYMES.

MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.

ASHTAROTH : A DRAMATIC LYRIC.



THE ROLL OF THE KETTLEDRUM (ILLUSTRATED).



IJlclbournc :
A. H. MASSINA & CO.

HOWEY STREET, OFF LITTLE COLLINS STREET

(Brtween Swanstos and Elizaiirtii Strkkts).

1894.



[Entered at Stationers' Hall, and Registered wider
Copyright Ad.]



&3p



3n flDcnioriani.

(A. L. GORDON.)

At rest ! Hard by the margin of that sea

Whose sounds are mingled with his noble verse,

Now lies the shell that never more will house

The fine, strong spirit of my gifted friend.

Yea, he who flashed upon us suddenly,

A shining soul with syllables of fire,

Who sang the first great songs these lands can claim

To be their own ; the one who did not seem

To know what royal place awaited him

W^ithin the Temple of the Beautiful,

Has passed away ; and we who knew him, sit

Aghast in darkness, dumb with that great grief,

Whose stature yet we cannot comprehend ;

While over yonder churchyard, hearsed with pines,

The night-wind sings its immemorial hymn.

And sobs above a newly-covered grave.

The bard, the scholar, and the man who lived

That frank, that open-hearted life which keeps

The splendid fire of English chivalry

From dying out ; the one who never wronged

A fellow-man ; the faithful friend who judged

The many, anxious to be loved of him.

By what he saw, and not by what he heard,

As lesser spirits do ; the brave great soul

That never told a lie, or turned aside

To fly from danger ; he, I say, was one

Of that bright company this sin-stained world

Can ill afford to lose.



l.mR*RV



vi. IN MEMORIAM.

They did not know,
The hundreds who had read his sturdy verse,
And revelled over ringing major notes,
The mournful meaning of the undersong
Which runs through all he wrote, and often takes
The deep autumnal, half-prophetic tone
Of forest winds in March ; nor did they think
That on that healthy-hearted man theie lay
The wild specific curse which seems to cling
For ever to the Poet's twofold life !

To Adam Lindsay Gordon, I who laid

Two years ago on Lionel Michael's grave

A tender leaf of my regard ; yea I,

Who culled a garland from the flowers of song

To place where Harpur sleeps ; I, left alone.

The sad disciple of a shining band

Now gone ! to Adam Lindsay Gordon's name

I dedicate these lines ; and if 'tis true

That, past the darkness of the grave, the soul

Becomes omniscient, then the bard may stoop

From his high seat to take the offering,

And read it with a sigh for human friends,

In human bonds, and gray with human griefs.

And having wove and proffered this poor wreath,

I stand to-day as lone as he who saw

At nightfall, through the glimmering moony mists.

The last of Arthur on the wailing mere.

And strained in vain to hear the going voice.

HENRY KENDALL.



PREFACE.

The poems of Gordon have an interest beyond the mere
personal one which his friends attach to his name. Written,
as they were, at odd times and leisure moments of a stirring
and adventurous life, it is not to be wondered at if they are
unequal or unfinished. The astonishment of those who knew
the man, and can gauge the capacity of this city to foster
poetic instinct, is, that such work was ever produced here at
all. Intensely nervous, and feeling much of that shame at
the exercise of the higher intelligence which besets those who
are known to be renowned in field sports, Gordon produced
his poems shyly, scribbled them on scraps of paper, and sent
them anonymously to magazines. It was not until he dis-
covered one morning that everybody knew a couplet or two of
"How We Beat the Favourite" that he consented to forego
his anonymity and appear in the unsuspected character of a
versemaker. The success of his republished "collected" poems
gave him courage, and the unreserved praise which greeted
"Bush Ballads" should have urged him to forget or to con-
quer those evil promptings which, unhappily, brought about
his untimely death.

Adam Lindsay Gordon was the son of an officer in the
English army, and was educated at Woolwich, in order that he
might follow the profession of his family. At the time when he
was a cadet there was no sign of either of the two great wars
which were about to call forth the strength of English arms,
and, like many other men of his day, he quitted his prospects
of service, and emigrated. He went to South Australia and



viii. PREFACE.

started as a sheep farmer. His efforts were attended with
failure. He lost his capital, and, owning nothing but a love
for horsemanship and a head full of Browning and Shelley,
plunged into the varied life which gold-mining, " overlanding,"
and cattle-driving affords. From this experience he emerged
to light in Melbourne as the best amateur steeplechase rider
in the colonies. The victory he won for Major Baker in
1868, when he rode Babbler for the Cup Steeplechase, made
him popular, and the almost simultaneous publication of his
last volume of poems gave him welcome entrance to the
houses of all who had pretensions to literary taste. The repu-
tation of the book spread to England, and Major Whyte
Melville did not disdain to place the lines of the dashing Aus-
tralian author at the head of his own dashing descriptions of
sporting scenery. Unhappily, the melancholy which Gordon's
friends had with pain observed increased daily, and in the full
flood of his success, with congratulations pouring upon him
from every side, he was found dead in the heather near his
home with a bullet from his own rifle in his brain.

I do not purpose to criticise the volumes which these few
lines of preface introduce to the reader. The influence of
Browning and of Swinburne upon the writer's taste is plain.
There is plainly visible also, however, a keen sense for natural
beauty and a manly admiration for healthy living. If in
" Ashtaroth " and " Bellona " we recognise the swing of a
familiar metre, in such poems as the "Sick Stockrider" we
perceive the genuine poetic instinct united to a very clear
perception of the loveliness of duty and of labour.

'Twas merry in tlie glowing morn, among the gleaming grass,

To wander as we've wandered many a mile,
And blow the cool toljaeco cloud, and watch the white wreaths pass,

Sitting loosely in tlje saddle all tlie while ;
'Twas merry 'mid tlie blackwoods, when we spied the station roofs,

To wheel the wild scrub cattle at the yard,
With a running fire of stockwhips, and a fiery run of hoofs,

Oh! the liardest day was never then too hard !



PREFACE. ix.

Aye! we liail a glorious gallop after "Starliglit" and his gang.

When tliey bolted from Sylvester's on the flat ;
How the sun-(lrieil reed-beils crackled, how the flint-strewn ranges rang

To tlie strokes of "Mountaineer" and ''Acrobat;"'
Hard behind them in the timber, harder still across the heath,

Close beliind them through the tea-tree scrub we dash'd ;
And the golden-tinted fern leaves, how they rustled underneath !

And the hoiiej-suckle osiers, how thej' crash'd !

This is genuine. There is no "poetic evolution from the
depths of internal consciousness" here. The writer has ridden
his ride as well as written it.

The student of these unpretending volumes will be repaid
for his labour. He will find in them something very like
the beginnings of a national school of Australian poetry. In
historic Europe, where every rood of ground is hallowed in
legend and in song, the least imaginative can find food for sad
and sweet reflection. When strolling at noon down an English
country lane, lounging at sunset by some ruined chapel on the
margin of an Irish lake, or watching the mists of morning
unveil Ben Lomond, we feel all the charm which springs from
association with the past. Soothed, saddened, and cheered by
turns, we partake of the varied moods which belong not so
much to ourselves as to the dead men who, in old days, sung,
suffered, or conquered in the scenes which we survey. But
this our native or adopted land has no past, no story. No
poet speaks to us. Do we need a poet to interpret Nature's
teachings, we must look into our own hearts, if perchance we
may find a poet there.

What is the dominant note of Australian scenery ? That
which is the dominant note of Edgar Allan Poe's poetry —
Weird Melancholy. A poem like " L' Allegro " could never be
written by an Australian. It is too airy, too sweet, too freshly
happy. The Australian mountain forests are funereal, secret,
stern. Their solitude is desolation. They seem to stifle, in
their black gorges, a story of sullen despair. No tender senti-
ment is nourished in their shade. In other lands the dying



X. PREFACE.

year is mourned, the falling leaves drop lightly on his bier.
In the Australian forests no leaves fall. The savage winds
shout among the rock clefts. From the melancholy gum
strips of white bark hang and rustle. The very animal life of
these frowning hills is either grotesque or ghostly. Great grey
kangaroos hop noiselessly over the coarse grass. Flights of
white cockatoos stream out, shrieking like evil souls. The sun
suddenly sinks, and the mopokes burst out into horrible peals
of semi-human laughter. The natives aver that, when night
comes, from out the bottomless depth of some lagoon the
Bunyip rises, and, in form like monstrous sea-calf, drags his
loathsome length from out the ooze. From a corner of the
silent forest rises a dismal chant, and around a fire dance
natives painted like skeletons. All is fear-inspiring and gloomy.
No bright fancies are linked with the memories of the moun-
tains. Hopeless explorers have named them out of their
sufferings — Mount Misery, Mount Dreadful, Mount Despair.
As when among sylvan scenes in places

Made greeu with the running of rivers,
And gracious witli temperate air,

the soul is soothed and satisfied, so, placed before the frightful

grandeur of these barren hills, it drinks in their sentiment of

defiant ferocity, and is steeped in bitterness.

Australia has rightly been named the Land of the Dawning.

Wrapped in the midst of early morning, her history looms

vague and gigantic. The lonely horseman riding between the

moonlight and the day sees vast shadows creeping across the

shelterless and silent plains, hears strange noises in the

primeval forest, where flourishes a vegetation long dead in other

lands, and feels, despite his fortune, that the trim utilitarian

civilisation which bred him shrinks into insignificance beside

the contemptuous grandeur of forest and ranges coeval with

an age in which European scientists have cradled his own

race.



PREFACE. xi.

There is a poem in every form of tree or flower, but the
poetry which lives in the trees and flowers of Austraha differs
from those of other countries. Europe is the home of knightly
song, of bright deeds and clear morning thought. Asia sinks
beneath the weighty recollections of her past magnificence, as
the Suttee sinks, jewel-burdened, upon the corpse of dead
grandeur, destructive even in its death. America swiftly
hurries on her way, rapid, glittering, insatiable even as one of
her own giant waterfalls. From the jungles of Africa, and the
creeper-tangled groves of the islands of the South, arise, from
the glowing hearts of a thousand flowers, heavy and intoxicating
odours— the Upas-poison which dwells in barbaric sensuaHty.
In Australia alone is to be found the Grotesque, the Weird,
the strange scribblings of nature learning how to write. Some
see no beauty in our trees without shade, our flowers without
perfume, our birds who cannot fly, and our beasts who have
not yet learned to walk on all fours. But the dweller in the
wilderness acknowledges the subtle charm of this fantastic land
of monstrosities. He becomes familiar with the beauty of lone-
liness. Whispered to by the myriad tongues of the wilderness,
he learns the language of the barren and the uncouth, and can
read the hieroglyphs of haggard gum-trees, blown into odd
shapes, distorted with fierce hot winds, or cramped with cold
nights, when the Southern Cross freezes in a cloudless sky of
icy blue. The phantasmagoria of that wild dreamland termed
the Bush interprets itself, and the Poet of our desolation begins
to comprehend why free Esau loved his heritage of desert sand
better than all the bountiful richness of Egypt.

MARCUS CLARKE.



GENERAL CONTENTS.



-o-



(Translated from the Spanish)



In Memoriam. By Henry Kendall

Preface. By Marcus Clarke . .

Publishers' Preface . .

A Basket of Flowers

A Dedication

After the Quarrel

A Fragment . .

A Hunting Song

A Legend of Madrid

An Exile's Farewell

Ars Longa. (A Song of Pilgrimage) . .

Ashtaroth : A Dramatic Lyric

A Song of Autumn . .

Banker's Dream

Bellona

Borrow'd Plumes. (A Preface and a Piracy) ..

By Flood and Field. (A Legend of the Cottiswold)

By Wood and Wold. (A Preamble) ..

Cito Pede Preterit .^Etas. (A Philosophical Dissertation)

Confiteor

Credat Judaeus Apella

Cui Bono

Delilah. (From a Picture)

De Te

Discontent . .

Doubtful Dreams

" Early Adieux "

"Exeunt"

Ex Fumo Dare Lucem. ('Twixt the Cup and the Lip)

Fauconshawe. (A Ballad)

Finis Exoptatus. (A Metaphysical Song)

Fragmentary Scenes from the Road to Avernus

From Lightning and Tempest

From the Wreck

Gone



PAGE.
V.

vii.

XV.

224

147
187

228
243
75
239
116

249
211

134
92

72

49

48

62

99

131

90

107

171

179

191

241

189

139
80
66

179
no

159
43



(Translation from Horace)
(An Allegorical Interlude)

(The Philosophy of a Feast)



GENERAL CONTENTS.

Hippodromania; or, Whiffs from the Pipe. (In Five Parts)
How We Beat the Favourite. (A Lay of the Loamshire

Hunt Cup)
In the Garden

In Utrumque Paratus. (A Logical Discussion
Laudamus

Lex Talionis. (A Moral Discourse)
No Name
Pastor Cum.
Podas Okus .
Potter's Clay.
Qaare Fatigasti
Rippling Water
Sunlight on the Sea.
Ten Paces Off
The Fields of Coleraine
The Last Leap

"The Old Leaven." (A Dialogue)
The Rhyme of Joyous Garde
The Roll of the Kettledrum. (lUustrated)
The Romance of Britomarte . .
The Sick Stockrider . .
The Song of the Surf
The Swimmer

The Three Friends. (From the French)
Thick-headed Thoughts
Thora's Song (" Ashtaroth ") . .
To a Proud Beauty. ("A Valentine")
To My Sister
Two Exhortations
Unshriven

Visions in the Smoke
Whisperings in Wattle-Boughs
Wolf and Hound
Wormwood and Nightshade . .
Ye Wearie Wayfarer, hys Ballad. (In Kigln
^u der edlen Yagd. (A Treatise on Trees)



yttes)



xin.

I'.UIE.

124

174
185

54
222

58

165

73

37

61

121

87
103
188
129
iig

233

196

^7

212

151

95

155
207

245
205
244
229
180
46
124

97

167

III

48

52



PUBLISHERS' PREFACE.



Some of the poems included in this volume were first
published in the Australasian newspaper, and are inserted by
the kind permission of the proprietors. We have also to
acknowledge our indebtedness to many personal friends of the
late Author for their kindness in placing at our disposal some
poems which were not included in his published works.

This edition of Gordon's Poems is embellished by the
illustration of the "Roll of the Kettledrum," which, for this
reason, has been made the introductory poem in the book.

Lieut. -Colonel Marshman, late Major H.M. 28th Regiment,
an artist of very high degree, as proclaimed by experts who
have seen these original drawings, conceived the idea of
illustrating this poem, of which he had a strong professional
admiration and artistic ability sufficient to demonstrate its
beauty. The suggestion was gladly accepted by us, with the
result as shown. His drawings have been reproduced by the
best processes known, and are faithful copies of the originals.

We have no doubt that all lovers of Gordon will admit the
additional charm these excellent pictures lend his works.

A. H. MASSINA & CO.
1st June, 1804.



ZlK IRoK of the Ikcttlebrum ;




OR,



Z\K Xav> of the %aet il]m\Ki\




X,



" Spreading before us their cavaliy lay,

Squadron on squadron, troop upon troop ;
We were so few, and so many were they —
Eagles wait calmly the sparrow-hawk's stoop.'




" One line of swart profiles, and bearded lips dressing,
One ridge of bright helmets, one crest of fair plumes.
One streak of blue sword blades ail bared for the fleshing,
One row of red nostrils that scent battiefunies."




THE ROLL OF THE KETTLEDRUM ;

OK,

THE LAY OF THE LAST CHARGER.

"You have the Pyrrhic dance, as yet,

Where is tlie Pyrrhie plialaiix gone ?
Of two sucli k'.ssoMri, why for^'et

The nobler and the manlier one T'—Jlyron.

One ]iiR'()f swart pi-ofiles, and l)earded lips dressiiifr,
Onu I'ido-o of LriuJit liclmets, one crest (if I'nii-
Illumes,
One streak oF l.lue s\vord-l)lades all bared fnr the
Heshino",
One row of red nostrils that scent hatth'-ruiiics.

Forward ! the trumpets were soundinn- the char<^as

The roll of the kettledrum i-apidly ran,
That iiiusic, like wild-fire sprea<ling at laro;o,



Madden'd the wardiorse as well as tl



H' innn.



Forward ! still forward ! we thunder'd alon<r,

Steadily yet, for our strength we were iiursintr ;



22



TEE ROLL OF TEE KETTLEDRUM.




One was there, leading by nearly a rood.
Though we were racing he l<ept to the fore,

Still as a rock in his stirrups he stood,
High In the sunlight his sabre he bore,"



THE MOLL OF THE IZETTT.T.DUrM. 23

Tall Ewart, our sergeant, was humming a song,
Lance-corporal Black Will was blasplieming and
cursing.

Open'd their volley of guns on our riglit,

Pulfs of grey smoke, veiling gleams of red flame.

Curling to leeward, were seen on the height,

Where the Latteries were posted, as onwai-d we
came.

Spreading before us their cavalry lay,

Squadron on s(piadi-on, troo]) upon ti'oop ;

We were so few, and so many were they —
Eagles wait calmly the sparrow-hawk's stoop.

Forwar<l ! still forward ! steed answering steed
Cheerily neigh'd while the foam flakes were toss'd

From bridle to bridle — the top of our speed

Was gain'd, but the pride of our order was lost.

One was there, leading by nearly a rood,

Though we were i-.-ifinn- lie kept to the fore,

Still as a, I'ock in bis stiiTm)s he stood,
High ill tlir siiidiglit bis sabre he bore.

Suddcidy tottering, baekwai-ds he crash'd,
Loudly his bcbii I'iglit in fi-ont of us i-uno- :

Iron hoofs thundci-'d, and naked steel liash'd
Over liim — youngest, wbcie many were young.

Now we were close to them, every liorse striding-
Abidly ; — St. Luce pass'd with never a gn)aii ; —
Sadly my master look'd round — lie was riding

( )ii tlir boy's ri-ht, witb a lim." of his own.



1i



TEE BOLL OF THE KETTLE DEUM.




Over fallen riders, like wither'd leaves strewing
Uplands in autumn, we sunder'd their ranks;

Steeds rearing and plunging, men hacking and hewing,
Fierce grinding of sword-blades, sharp goading of flanks,"



THE ROLL OF THE KETTLEDRVM. 2;)

Tlinisting his hand in his breast or l)rcast pocket,
While from liis wrist the swoi-d swiino; l)y a
cliain,

Swiftly he drew out some trinket or locket,
Kiss'd it (I think) and replaced it again.

Burst, while his fingers reclosed on the haft,
Jarring concussion and earth shaking din,

Horse 'counter'd horse, and I reel'd, hut he laughed,
Down went his man, cloven clean to the chin I

Wedged in the midst of that struggling mass,

After the lirst shock, where each his foe singled,

Little was seen save a dazzle, like glass

In the sun, with grey smoke and black dust
intermingled.

Here and there redden'd a pistol sliot, ilashing
Through the red sparkle of steel upon steel !

Redder the spark seem'd, and louder the clashing.
Struck fi-om the helm by the iron-shod heel 1

Over fallen riders, like wither'd leaves strewing
Uplands in autuuni, we .sunder'd their i-anks ;
Steeds rearing and plunging, men hacking and
hewing,
Fierce grinding of sword-blades, sharp goading of
Hanks.

Short was the crisis of conflict soon over —
Being too good (I suppose) to last long —

Through them we cut, as the scythe cuts the clover,
Batter'd ami stain'd we eiiiei-ged from their
thronj



''^-



•26 THE ROLL OF THE A'ETTLEBJiUM.

Some of our saddles were emptied, of course ;
To heaven (or elsewhere) Black Will had been
carried !
Ned Sullivan mounted Will's riderless horse,

His mare being hurt, while ten seconds we
tarried.

And then we re-formed, and went at them once
more.
And ere they had rightly closed up 'the old
track,
We broke through the lane we had open'd before.
And as we went forward e'en so we came back.

Our nuudiers were few, and our loss far from
small.
They could fight, and, besides, they were twenty
to one ;
We were clear of them all when we heard the
recall,
And thus we returned, but my tale is not done.

For the hand of my rider felt strange on my bit.
He breathed once or twice like one partially
choked,
And sway'd in his seat, then I knew he was hit; —
He nuist have bled fast, for my withers were
soak'd,

And scarcely ;ui iiicli of my housing was <by ;
I slacken'd my speed, yet 1 nevei" (|uite stopp'd,

Ere he ]~>atted my neck, said, "Old fellow, good-

1 I"
hy(> '

And (lro})})(;d oil' me gently, and lay wlicie he

dropp'd !



TEE ROLL OF TLIE KETTLEDRUM. 27

Ah, me ! after all, they may call lis diiml) creatures—
I tried hard to neigli, hut the stjhs took my l)reath,

Yet I guessed, gazing ilown at those still, ([uiet
features,
He was never more happy in life than in death.

******

Two years back, at Aldershot, Elriugton mentioned

My name to our colonel one iield-day. He said,

"'Count,' 'Steeltrap,' and 'Challenger' ought to be

pensioned ;"

"Count" dietl the same week,an<l now "Steeltrap"

is dead.

That morning (jur colonel was i-'uhng "Theresa,"
The filly by " Teddington " out of " Mistake ;"

His girls, prett}^ Alice and fair-ha-ird Louisa,

Were there on the ponies he purchased from Blake.

I remembri- lir pointi'd me out to his daughters,
Said hi-, " In this troop 1 may fairly take pride,

Rut I've none left like him in my oHicers' (|nai-tt'rs.
Whose life-blood the mane of ol<l " ( /hallt-nger '
dyed."

Wlu'rt' arc they — the war-steeds who shared in our
glory,

'I'hr "Lanercost" colt, and the "Acrobat" mai-e.
And the Irish dixision, "Kate Kearney" ami '• Koiy,"

And rushing " ito.sconnnon, " and cag. r " Kildare,"

.And " Frci'iiy," a favourite once with my master.

And "Warlock," a sluggard, but honest and ti-uc.
Ami " Tanercd," as honest as "Warlock." but faster.

And "Blacklock," and " Bir«llime," and ' Nb.llv
Carew ?" — •



28



THE BOLL OF THE KETTLEBRUM.




Our gallant old colonel came limping and halting,
The day before yesterday, into my stall ;

Oh! light to the saddle I've once seen him vaulting,
In full marching order, steel broadsword and all,"



THE ROIL OF TTTE KTVrTlKDRUU. 29

All vanish'd, what wonder ! twelve siinuners have
passed

Since then, and my comrade lies huried this day —
Old "Steeltrap," the kicker — and now I'm the last

Of the chargers who shared in that glorious fray.

******

Come, "Harlequin," keep your nose out of my
manger,
You'll get your allowance, my hoy, and no more;
Snort ! " Silvertail," snort ! when you've seen as
much danger
As I have, vou Avon't mind the rats in the straw.



Our gallant old cohjnel came limping and halting,
The day before yesterday, into my stall ;

Oh ! light to the saddle I've once seen him vaulting.
In full marchinu- order, steel broadsword and all.

And now his left leg thiin his right is made shortei-
Three inches, he st(j(jps, and his chest is unsound ;

He spoke to me gently, and patted my quarter,
1 laid my ears back and lookM playfully i-ouiid.

For thai word kind!}' meant, that curess kiiidl}' gixt-n,
I thank'd him, though dumb, but my cheerfulness
tied;

More sadness I drew from the face of the living
Than years back I did from the face of the tlead.

For the dead face, upturn'd, tranquil, joyous, and
fearless,
Look'd straiuht from j-reen sod to blue fathoudess
sky



30 TME nOLL OF THE KETTlEDRVM.

With a smile ; but tlic living face, gloomy and
tearless,
And haggard and harass'd, look'd down with a sigh.

Did he think on the first time he kissd Lady Mary ?
On the morninof he winn^'d Horace Greville the
beau ?
On the winner he steer'd in the grand military ?


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