Adam Lindsay Gordon - a famous Australian Poet Adam Lindsay Gordon - one of our most loved and acclaimed poets both here and abroad and possibly one of our most tragic.
He is most remembered for his ballads and their exciting rhythms and his love of the open-air life. Please scroll down for more information.

Cottage where Gordon and his wife once lived.

Dingley Dell near Port MacDonnell in South Australia.  The house where Adam Lindsay Gordon and his wife Margaret Park once lived.  It is now a museum.

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Adam Lindsay Gordon was born on Oct. 19, 1833 at Fayal in the Azores and died on the 24th of June 1870 at New Brighton, Australia.  He was educated in England at Cheltenham College, the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich and the Royal Worcester Grammar School.
As a youth he was very wild and reckless and his father decided that he should be sent to South Australia.  He arrived in Adelaide in 1853 he was 20 years old and within a few days he joined the South Australian Mounted Police.  Two years later in 1855 he resigned and became a horse breaker and steeplechase rider.  He soon gained a reputation  as being the best and most daring non-professional steeplechase rider in the colony.
In 1859 and two years after the death of his parents in 1857 he received 7,000 pounds from his mother's estate.  Soon after in 1862 he married Margaret Park a girl of 17  he purchased a small cottage Dingley Dell in South Australia.
In August 1864 his first poem "The Feud" was published in March 1865.  At this time he was elected to the South Australian House of Assembly but later resigned because he had bought land in Western Australia.  The venture failed and he returned in 1867 and settled in Mount Gambier.
During this time he was contributing  verse to the Australian and Bell's Life in Victoria.
The years from 1867 to 1870 were not good years for Gordon in fact they were disastrous.  He decided to embark on yet another business venture and rented livery stables at Ballarat in Victoria.  He had poor business sense and the venture failed.  In 1868 he had a bad riding accident and worse still his only child Annie died at 11 months of age and his wife left Ballarat.
During this time Gordon apparently had many debts and fortunately a small legacy arrived just in in the nick of time for him to settle them.  Also at this time he went to Melbourne and created a record at Flemington by winning three steeplechase races in one afternoon two of them on his own horses.
In 1869 he moved to Brighton and his wife rejoined him.  But events were stacking up against him and in March 1970 he fell badly in a steeplechase and sustained a serious head injury from which he never fully recovered.
He became very depressed and more so when he learned that a legacy he was expecting from a Gordon estate in Scotland was not valid due to a change of law.  He was hoping to pay for the printing costs for Bush Ballads and Galloping Rhymes which were published on the 23rd June 1870 the day before he died.  He was warmly congratulated by other well known poets of the day with whom he was friendly including Henry Kendall.
Nevertheless for Gordon his future seemed very bleak and dismal.  Early on June 24, 1870 he shot himself on the beach at Brighton.  He was just 37 years of age.
How sad that someone with his dashing good looks and wonderful talent ended his life this way.
It is interesting to note that in 1932 a statue of Gordon was unveiled at Parliament House in Melbourne and in 1934 his bust was  placed in Westminster Abbey.

Wolf and Hound
Adam Lindsay Gordon
1833 - 1870

You'll take my tale with a little salt;
But it needs none, nevertheless!
I was foiled completely - fairly at fault-
Disheartened, too, I confess!

At the splitters' tent I had seen the track
Of  horses-hoofs fresh on the sward;
And though Darby Lynch and Donovan Jack
(Who could swear through a ten-inch board)

Solemnly swore he had not been there.
I was just as sure they had lied;
For to Darby all that is foul was fair,
And Jack for his life was tried.

We had run him for seven miles or more
As hard as our nags could split;
At the start they were all too weary and sore,
And his was quite fresh and fit.

Young Marsden's pony had had enough
On  the plain where the chase was hot;
We breasted the swell of the Bitterns' bluff,
And Mark couldn't raise a trot.

When the sea like a splendid silver shield
To the south-west suddenly lay,
On the brow of the Beetle the chestnut reeled -
And I bid good-bye to McCrea.

And I was alone when the mare fell lame
With a pointed flint in her shoe,
On the Stony Flats:  I had lost the game!
- And what was a man to do?

I turned away with a fixed intent
And headed for Hawthorndell:
I could neither eat in the splitters' tent
Nor drink at the splitters' well.

I know that they gloried in my mishap,
And I cursed them between my teeth:
- A blood-red sunset through Brayton's Gap
Flung a lurid fire on the heath.

Could I reach the Dell?  I had little reck,
And with scarce a choice of my own
I threw the reins on Miladi's neck -
I had freed her foot from the stone.

That season of the swamps were dry,
And after so hard a burst
In the sultry noon of so hot a sky
She was keen to appease her thirst -

Or by instinct urged, or impelled by fate
(I care not to solve these things)
Certain it is that she took me straight
To the Warrigal water springs!

I can shut my eyes and recall the ground
As though it were yesterday:
With shelf of the low, grey rocks girt round,
The springs in their basin lay.

Woods to the east and wolds to the north
In the sundown sullenly bloomed:
Dead black on a curtain of crimson cloth
Large peaks to the westward loomed.

I led Miladi through weed and sedge,
She leisurely drank her fill:
There was something close to the water's edge -
And my heart, with one leap, stood still!

For a horse's shoe and a rider's boot
Had left clean prints on the clay;
Someone had watered his beast on foot -
'Twas he! - he had gone! - which way?

Then the mouth of the cavern faced me fair
As I turned and fronted the rocks:
So at last I had pressed the wolf to his lair!
I had run to his earth the fox!

I thought so! Perhaps he was resting? Perhaps
He was waiting, watching for me?
I examined all my revolver caps;
I hitched my mare to a tree.

I had sworn to have him, alive or dead!
And to give him a chance was loth:
He knew his life had been forfeited!
He had even heard of my oath!

In my stockinged soles to the shelf I crept -
I crawled safe into the cave:
All silent! - if he was there he slept -
Not there - all dark as the grave!

Through the crack I could hear the leaden hiss!
See the livid face through the flame!
How strange it seems that a man should miss
When his life depends on his aim!

There couldn't have been a better light
For him, nor a worse for me:
We were cooped up - caged like beasts for a fight -
And dumb as dumb beast were we!

Flash! flash! - Bang! Bang! - and we blazed away,
And the grey roof reddened and rang!
Flash! flash! - and I felt his bullet flay
The tip of my ear - Flash! bang!

Bang! flash! - and my pistol arm fell broke:
I struck with my left hand then:
- Struck at a corpse through a cloud of smoke!
I had shot him dead in his den.

                             Adam Lindsay Gordon

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Kanaroo - clip