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The Rutherford Family/
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The Rutherford Family

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Poems by Gordon
Front cover

One of my motherís souvenirs was a little 12 page handmade illustrated booklet, about 210 by 235mm, containing several poems by the Australian poet, Adam Lindsay Gordon. The poems were written in ink, and the decoration was done in watercolour. It was prepared as a token of affection for her mother, Mary Gilmour, by one Capt Blood-Smyth (or Bloody-Smyth?) who was one of her admirers before she became engaged.

Mary was born in 1862, so it was probably given to her in the early 1880ís. I don't know anything else about him, but it is exquisitely done and must have involved a lot of work, so I presume he must have been an ardent suitor.

[While I was checking these pages, I started reading the poem Boot and saddle, and on page 6 I was surprised to notice definite echoes of my own poem What fatal force?

Gordon's poem was written nearly 100 years before mine, so he certainly wasn't guilty of plagiarism. Although Gordon's work was quite popular when I was young, I don't recall ever having read this poem before, but I did see this booklet in my childhood, so perhaps I read it then and absorbed the spirit of it.

On the other hand Gordon had an unhappy life, and financial worries and deepening depression eventually drove him to commit suicide on a beach not far from where I live. Perhaps the similarities in our outlook, and our common Australian Heritage, explain the similarities in our poems.

This poem, and the poem on page eight, are taken from the long poem Ye Wearie Wayfarer, hys Ballad from Gordon's book Sea Spray and Smoke Drift, published in 1867]

Adam Lindsay Gordon

Ye Weary Wayfarer

Blood-Smyth: 1

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Blood-Smyth: 6

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 © Roger Riordan 2004-2018

A token of love: Captain Blood-Smythe