Gordon’s Sayings

Such were the popularity of Gordon’s poems that they produced some famous sayings that became proverbs and household words in Australia.

“Question not, but live and labour
Till yon goal be won,
Helping every feeble neighbour,
Seeking help from none;
Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone:
KINDNESS in another’s trouble.
COURAGE in your own.”

—Fytte VIII: Finis Exoptatus

“And whatever you do, don’t change your mind
When once you have picked your panel.”

—Fytte IV: In Utrumque Paratus
“No man may shirk the allotted work,
The deed to do, the death to die.”

—De Te
“For he may ride ragged who rides from a wreck.”
—From The Wreck
“Though the gifts of the light in the end are curses,
Yet bides the gift of the darkness—sleep !”

—The Swimmer
“Mere pluck, though not in the least sublime,
Is wiser than blank dismay.”
—Fytte IV: In Utrumque Paratus
“Yet if once we efface the joys of the chase
From the land, and outroot the Stud,

—Fytte VII: Cito Pede Preterit Aetas
“Why should he labour to help his neighbour
Who feels too reckless to help himself ?”

—Cui Bono
“Let us thank the Lord for His bounties all,
For the brave old days of pleasure and pain,
When the world for both of us seem’d too small—
Though the love was void and the hate was vain.”

“The world, the flesh, and the devil
Are easily understood.”

—Wormwood and Nightshade
“No game was ever yet worth a rap
For a rational man to play,
Into which no accident, no mishap,
Could possibly find its way.”

—Fytte IV: In Utrumque Paratus
“And the song that the poet fashions,
And the love-bird’s musical strain,
Are jumbles of animal passions,
Refined by animal pain.”

—Wormwood and Nightshade
“From the spot where we last lay dreaming
Together—yourself and I—
The soft grass beneath us gleaming,
Above us the great grave sky.”

—Doubtful Dreams
“Yet if man, of all the Creator plann’d,
His noblest work is reckoned,
Of the works of His hand, by sea or by land,
The horse may at least rank second.”

—Part I: Visions in the Smoke
“And the fool builds again while he grumbles,
And the wise one laughs, building again.”

—Part V: Ex Fumo Dare Lucem
“Snort ! ‘Silvertail,’ snort ! when you’ve seen as much danger
As I have, you won’t mind the rats in the straw.”

—The Roll of the Kettledrum
“God’s glorious oxygen.”
—Fytte VII: Cito Pede Preterit Aetas
“Look before you leap, if you like, but if
You mean leaping, don’t look long,
Or the weakest place will soon grow stiff,
And the strongest doubly strong.”

—Fytte IV: In Utrumque Paratus
“Ho ! pledge me a death-drink, comrade mine,
To a brave man gone where we all must go.”

“I’ve had my share of pastime, and I’ve done my share of toil,
And life is short—the longest life a span ;
I care not now to tarry for the corn or for the oil,
Or for the wine that maketh glad the heart of man.
For good undone and gifts misspent and resolutions vain,
‘Tis somewhat late to trouble. This I know—
I should live the same life over, if I had to live again ;
And the chances are I go where most men go.”

—The Sick Stockrider
“A little season of love and laughter,
Of light and life, and pleasure and pain,
And a horror of outer darkness after,
And dust returneth to dust again.”

—The Swimmer
“And sport’s like life, and life’s like sport,
It ain’t all skittles and beer.”

—Fytte IV: In Utrumque Paratus
“Though we stumble still, walking blindly,
Our paths shall be made all straight ;
We are weak, but the heavens are kindly,
The skies are compassionate.”

—Doubtful Dreams
“No life is wholly void and vain,
Just and unjust share sun and rain.”

—De Te
“We labour to-day, and we slumber to-morrow,
Strong horse and bold rider !—and who knoweth more ?”

—The Roll of the Kettledrum
“Is the clime of the old and younger,
Where the young dreams longer are nursed ?
With the old insatiable hunger,
With the old unquenchable thirst.”

—Doubtful Dreams
“Love ! when we wander’d here together,
Hand in hand through the sparkling weather,
From the heights and hollows of fern and heather,
God surely loved us a little then.”

—The Swimmer
“Say only, ‘God, who has judged him thus,
Be merciful to him and us.’ “

—De Te
“Let me slumber in the hollow where the wattle blossoms wave,
With never stone or rail to fence my bed ;
Should the sturdy station children pull the bush flowers on my grave,
I may chance to hear them romping overhead.”

—The Sick Stockrider
“Real life is a race through sore trouble,
That gains not an inch on the goal,
And bliss an intangible bubble
That cheats an unsatisfied soul,
And the whole
Of the rest an illegible scroll.”

“Vain dreams! for our fathers cherish’d
High hopes in the days that were ;
And these men wonder’d and perish’d,
Nor better than these we fare.”

—Doubtful Dreams
“I would that with sleepy, soft embraces
The sea would fold me—would find me rest
In luminous shades of her secret places,
In depths where her marvels are manifest ;
So the earth beneath her should not discover
My hidden couch-nor the heaven above her—
As a strong love shielding a weary lover,
I would have her shield me with shining breast.”

—The Swimmer
“To my fathers gone before me,
To the gods who love the brave !”

—Podas Okus