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LIFE IS MOSTLY FROTH AND BUBBLE

Life is mostly froth and bubble;
Two things stand like stone:
Kindness in another's trouble,
Courage in our own.

One of my relatives or a family friend inscribed those inspiring lines in my autograph book more than 70 years ago. They linger in my memory, and their message still applies today. But until now, I had no idea of the poet's name.

A search of the internet has at last revealed that the verse was composed by one of Australia's most famous poets, Adam Lindsay Gordon (18331870). It's towards the end of a 180-line poem titled Ye Weary Wayfarer. Finis Exoptatus.

Gordon is the only Australian poet to be honoured with a bust in the Poets' Corner of London's Westminster Abbey. Here are some brief facts about him, from Perry Middlemiss, of  Melbourne, who presents a wonderful selection of Australia's greatest authors and poets on his website.

Gordon, he says, was born in 1833 at Fayal in the Azores, where his mother's father had a plantation.

He completed his education in England and was sent by his family to South Australia in 1853 where he enlisted in the mounted police. He was briefly a member of Parliament and lived in Western Australia and Ballarat (Victoria) before moving to Melbourne.

During his time in Ballarat he suffered a severe head injury in a horse-riding accident, was bankrupted by a fire in the livery stable and lost his infant daughter. The day after his poems were published in Bush Ballads and Galloping Rhymes he committed suicide on Melbourne's Brighton Beach. He was 37.

Sadly, Gordon's own life was NOT mostly froth and bubble.

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Copyright 2003

Eric Shackle

Story first posted July 2003

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