Tuggeranong Suburbs - GORDON
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Number 5 in the series............
The suburb of Gordon is named after poet Adam Lindsay Gordon (1833-1870).
It was gazetted on 12 March 1987. Streets are named after Sportsmen and Sportswomen.
Adam Lindsay Gordon (19 October 1833 – 24 June 1870) was an Australian poet, jockey and politician.
Gordon was born at Fayal in the Azores, son of Captain Adam Durnford Gordon who had married his first cousin, Harriet Gordon.
Gordon lead a wild and aimless life, contracted debts, and was a great anxiety to his father, who decided that his son should go to Australia and make a fresh start in 1853 and joined the mounted Police.
Gordon was just over 20 years old when he arrived at Adelaide on 14 November 1853. He immediately obtained a position in the South Australian mounted police and was stationed at Mount Gambier and Penola.
In November 1855 he resigned from the force and took up horse-breaking. The interest in horse-racing which he had shown as a youth in England was continued in Australia, and in a letter written in November 1854 he mentioned that he had a horse for the steeplechase at the next meeting.
In 1857 he met the Rev. Julian Tenison Woods who lent him books and talked poetry with him. He then had the reputation of being "a good steady lad and a splendid horseman". In this year his father died and he lost his mother two years later. He received £6944 from her estate.
Gordon was making a reputation for himself as a rider over hurdles, and several times either won or was placed in local hurdle races and steeplechases.
On 20 October 1862 he married Margaret Park, then a girl of 17 and then in March 1864 bought a cottage, Dingley Dell, near Port MacDonnell SA, and, in this same year, inspired by six engravings after Noel Paton illustrating "The Dowie Dens O' Yarrow", Gordon wrote a poem The Feud, of which 30 copies were printed at Mount Gambier.
On 11 January 1865 he received a deputation asking him to stand for parliament and was elected by three votes to the South Australian House of Assembly on 16 March 1865. In politics, Gordon was a maverick. His semi-classical speeches were colourful and entertaining but largely irrelevant, and he resigned his seat on 20 November 1866.
Gordon's time in politics stimulated him to greater activity – poetry, horse racing and speculation. He was contributing verse to the Australasian and Bell's Life in Victoria and doing a fair amount of riding.
On 10 June 1867 he published Ashtaroth, a Dramatic Lyric, and on the nineteenth of the same month Sea Spray and Smoke Drift.
In March 1868 he had a serious horse accident, smashing his head against a gatepost of his own yard. His daughter was born on 3 May 1867, however she died at the age of 11 months.
Gordon’s financial difficulties were increasing, and he fell into very low spirits. In spite of short sight he was becoming very well known as a gentleman rider, and on 10 October 1868 he actually won three races in one day at the Melbourne Hunt Club steeplechase meeting. He rode with great patience and judgment, but his want of good sight was always a handicap.
He began riding for money but was not fortunate and had more than one serious fall. He had succeeded in straightening his financial affairs and was more cheerful. He made a little money out of his racing and became a member of the Yorick Club, where he was friendly with Marcus Clarke and George Gordon McCrae.
On 12 March 1870 Gordon had a bad fall while riding in a steeplechase at Flemington Racecourse. His head was again injured and he never completely recovered. He had seen his last book, Bush Ballads and Galloping Rhymes, through the press, and it was published on 23 June 1870; it was not successful at the time, but is now regarded as one of the most important pieces of Australian literature.
Gordon asked his publishers what he owed them for printing the book, and realized that he had no money to pay them and no prospects. He went home to his cottage at 10 Lewis Street Brighton carrying a package of cartridges for his rifle. Next morning he rose early, walked into the tea-tree scrub and shot himself.
In October 1870 a monument was erected over his grave at the Brighton General Cemetery by his close friends, and in 1932 a statue to his memory by Paul Montford was unveiled near parliament house Melbourne; and many other statues and monuments throughout Australia. In May 1934 his bust was placed in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey, being the only Australian poet to have tht honour.
Gordon's death drew much attention to his work and especially in Melbourne the appreciation of it became overdone. Douglas Sladen, a life-long admirer, in his Adam Lindsay Gordon, The Westminster Abbey Memorial Volume has made a selection of 27 poems which occupy about 90 pages. Without subscribing to every poem selected it may be said that Gordon is most adequately represented in a sheaf of this kind. His most sustained effort, the "Rhyme of Joyous Garde", has some glorious stanzas, and on it and some 20 other poems Gordon's fame may be allowed to rest.
One of Gordon's poems, The Swimmer forms the libretto for the fifth movement of Edward Elgar's song cycle Sea Pictures. After a particularly trying year for the Royal Family, Queen Elizabeth II quoted from one of Gordon's more famous poems in her Christmas Message of 1992, "Kindness in another's trouble, courage in one's own..", but did not mention the poet's name.
Dingley Dell, Gordon's property and home from 1862 to 1866, is preserved as a museum and a conservation park. The museum houses early volumes of his work, personal effects and a display of his horse riding equipment.
In 1970 he was honoured on a postage stamp bearing his portrait issued by Australia Post.
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Hc n yvggyr.