ADAM LINDSAY GORDON (1833-1870), Australian poet, was born at Fayal, in the Azores, in 1833, the son of a retired Indian officer who taught Hindustani at Cheltenham College. Young Gordon was educated there and at Merton College, Oxford, but a youthful indiscretion led to his being sent in 1853 to South Australia, where he joined the mounted police. He then became a horsebreaker, but on his father's death he inherited a fortune and obtained a seat in the House of Assembly. At this time he had the reputation of being the best non-professional steeplechase rider in the colony. In 1867 he moved to Victoria and set up a livery stable at Ballarat. Two volumes of poems, Sea Spray and Smoke Drift and Ashtaroth, were published in this year, and two years later he gave up his business and settled at New Brighton, near Melbourne. A second volume of poetry, Bush Ballads and Galloping Rhymes, appeared in 1870. It brought him more praise than emolument, and, thoroughly discouraged by his failure to make good his claim to some property in Scotland to which he believed himself entitled, he committed suicide on the 24th of June 1870. His reputation rose after his death, and he became the best known and most widely popular of Australian poets. Much of Gordon's poetry might have been written in England; when, however, it is really local, it is vividly so; his genuine feeling frequently kindles into passion; his versification is always elastic and sonorous, but sometimes too reminiscent of Swinburne. His compositions are almost entirely lyrical, and their merit is usually in proportion to the degree in which they partake of the character of the ballad.
Gordon's poems were collected and published in 1880 with a biographical introduction by Marcus Clarke.
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