Oh! brave white horses! you gather and gallop

adam lindsay gordonThe Australian poet, Adam Lindsay Gordon (born 19 October, 1833 – died 24 June, 1870) lived at 10 Lewis Street, in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton, in 1868 during the last years of his life, after having migrated to Australia in 1853, after having been born in born at Fayal in the Azores.

An expert rider, he would often gallop his horse to the local Marine Hotel to drink, sing and gamble. The old hitching-post to which he tethered his horse is still there at the pub and the hotel has created an “Adam Lindsay Gordon Lounge” in his commemoration, complete with historical relics from the poet.

On 24 June, 1870, the day before his book Bush Ballads and Galloping Rhymes was published, Adam Lindsay Gordon walked through the early morning frost to the scrub on the foreshore at the end of Park Street, Brighton and shot himself.

  • In his pocket was a “lucky charm” Lion shilling.
  • His body was found by William Allen, a local Brighton storekeeper.

“The Swimmer” is one of the poems from Bush Ballads and Galloping Hymns.  It was later set to music by Sir Edward Elgar as the fifth and last song in his song-cycle “Sea Pictures”.  The following is the last verse from “The Swimmer“:

Oh! brave white horses! you gather and gallop,
The storm sprite loosens the gusty reins;
Now the stoutest ship were the frailest shallop
In your hollow backs, on your high arched manes.
I would ride as never [a] man has ridden
In your sleepy, swirling surges hidden,
I would ride as never man has ridden
To gulfs foreshadowed through straits forbidden,
Where no light wearies and no love wanes,
No love, where no love, no love wanes.

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