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As Australia journeys into an unknown and uncertain future, it is good to remind ourselves that we are here today because of those who went before us, and we have a sacred obligation to honour their legacy.

So many people from all walks of life have shaped our Aussie way of life, which makes us Australian, unashamedly and without apology. We were born out of true grit, sacrifice and reluctant citizenship in some cases, but our soldiers, our farmers, our women and our poets have celebrated the joy of being Australian.

We are from the land down under, and our poets’ voices still echo in the halls of our history and long may they do so. This is part 2 of our celebration of the people who gave voice to being dinki-di, true blue Aussie. To Hell with those politicians and wimps who dishonour our ancestors.

 

Take now the fruit of our labour,

Nourish and guard it with care;

For our youth is spent, and our backs are bent

And the snow is in our hair.

Frank Hudson 1913-1988  -The Pioneers

Voices of the Hunter - Phonse O'Neill Recites a Poem - The Pioneers by Frank Hudson


The Australian Robert Burns – Clarence Michael James Stanislaus (CJ) Dennis

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CJ Dennis 1876-1938

CJ Dennis was born in Auburn South Australia in 1876 and died in Box Hill Melbourne in 1938. He went to school in Adelaide as a Christian Brothers College, Wakefield Street boarder.

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He had various jobs around Australia in the literary field, and like Henry Lawson, Banjo Patterson, and Breaker Morant he was a contributor to the Bulletin. He published the well-loved novel of verse The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke in 1915, which concerned the exploits of a Melbourne larrikin named Bill, who met and married Doreen who finally forgave him.

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He also wrote poems about the Great War, such as Digger Smith which was a book written in verse in 1918 with extract below.

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Previously, in 1908 he also wrote the patriotic poem The Australaise, which was published in the Bulletin, and upgraded by him in 1915 to reflect Australia’s involvement in The Great War. The word bloody in the recitation below was indicated in the written poem by dotted lines, with the recommendation that blooming be used, or any other word which suggests itself as suitable WTF? The 1908 recitation below omits the 1915 substituted words Kaiser and German for foeman and enemy, and also the substituted reference to old mother Britain.

On his death in 1938, the Prime Minister Joseph Lyons referred to CJ Dennis as The Australian Robert Burns.

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Onya Cobber

First National Australian Poet – Adam Lindsay Gordon - 

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Adam Lindsay Gordon 1833-1870

Adam Lindsay Gordon was born in England in 1833. He was the son of a retired British army officer and a mother whose family were slave owners in the British West Indies until Britain abolished slavery in most of the Empire in 1833. Compensation paid by the Government for loss of the slaves made the family independently wealthy, much of which was bequeathed to Gordon following the death of his parents.

Gordon was a restless youth and attended a number of upper-class schools, and the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich where he was friends with Charles Gordon, who was destined to meet his end at Khartoum. He was taught horse riding and became an expert horseman. By the time he had approached the age of twenty, he was engaged in a life of dissipation, so his well-connected father shipped him off to South Australia with a letter of introduction to the governor.

In the years that followed, Gordon who had married, engaged in a succession of occupations including police trooper, horseman, steeple-chaser of renown, politician, horse breaker and sheep farmer.

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He also engaged in unsuccessful land speculation and a failed business venture. He began writing poetry and became friendly with the poet Henry Kendall (Bellbirds) and the writer Marcus Clarke (For the Term of his Natural Life). His only child Annie was born in 1867 and died not long after. In 1870, bedeviled by rising debts and despair at being unable to pay his publisher, notwithstanding his inheritance which he had dissipated, he took his rifle into scrub surrounding the beach at Brighton in Victoria and shot himself.

Gordon’s poems were both bush ballads, and poems written with a romantic theme. One of the most remembered ballads is The Sick Stockrider written in 1870, the year of his death. The first stanza is below.

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Lindsay Gordon is remembered by a statue in bronze erected in Melbourne in 1931, and by a bust in Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbeyerected in 1934.

In Gordon’s long poem Ye Wearie Wayfarer Published in 1866 these famous lines appear, quoted by Queen Elizabeth II in an address to the Nation in 1992:

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Lindsay Gordon is remembered by a statue in bronze erected in Melbourne in 1931, and by a bust in Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbeyerected in 1934.

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Onya Mate


Isobel Marion Dorothea Mackellar OBE

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Dorothea Mackellar 1885-1968

Dorothea Mackellar was born in 1885 in the affluent Sydney waterside suburb of Point Piper to elite parents. She was home schooled in the classics and languages and travelled widely with her parents throughout Europe, particularly Britain. She also spent time at her family’s property near Gunnedah and developed a love of the bush

She was an author and poet, and at the early age of 19 she wrote the poem which identifies her, My Country. She wrote other poems and novels which did not gain the same acclaim, and ceased writing after the death of her father in 1926.

The following an actual recitation of My Country by Dorothea.

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Dorothea was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1968, shortly before her death at Darling Point.  There is a bronze statue in her honour at Gunnedah, unveiled in 1983. She is buried with her family in WaverlyCemetery in Sydney. The grave overlooks the ocean, not far from that of Henry Lawson.

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What would we do without them?

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