(By his mother)
He was born at the foot of the mountain,
He was taught his first letters in sand;
His companions – mimosas and gum trees –
And the beautiful birds of the land.
To his ear the wild scream of the curlew
Was sweeter than sweetest of fruits;
And the silvery tinkling of bell birds,
More soothing than ladies’ fine lutes.
The despised aborigines loved him,
They partook of his dry crust of bread;
And he followed wherever they led him
Without fear, or peril, or dread.
He grew up ‘midst struggles to manhood,
And then he burst forth into song,
That will always be heard in Australia,
Its mountains and gullies among.
Then came to his heart a great first love
Which could never be conquered by time;
Hence his muse was oft draped in sadness,
And she wore it oft times in his rhyme.
A first disappointment is bitter,
And may bring in its turn many woes;
Though it seems but a trifling matter
To be baulked in just plucking a rose.
But pride with its wing covered over
The vulture that tore at his breast,
None knew what it was but the writer;
It was a sealed book to the rest.
Then the curse of all curses most cursed,
This curse of our own native land,
Seized its victim, securely it bound him,
He could find no escape from its hand.
Then like Dante he trod the “Inferno”
When he lifted the maddening cup,
And now what remained to him farther,
In despair he must needs drink it up.
His physique, never strong at the best time,
Succumbed to the demon’s great power,
And caused the best parts of his genius
Unheeded to lie in her bower.
But now he is quietly sleeping,
The present will soon be the past;
If this thought will bring any solace to sorrow,
All wrong will be righted at last.
And now he can dream out his dreaming
Away in those regions sublime,
Without fear of encountering a critic,
Or the tempting red juice of the wine.
And from thence like the love of Elijah,
His mantle on earth he may cast;
To be worn by a second Elisha,
To write his grand epic at last.
(Kiama Independent, Oct 16, 1883)