Reprint: Letter to the Editor: Henry Lawson

Sir,- Henry Lawson was not a gloomy poet. I have seen it written over and over again that Lawson thought only of gloomy things; and wrote accordingly. The trouble with half the critics would-be high-brows -- who presume to talk airily about Henry Lawson is that they have never read his poetry at all, or if they did they have failed to grasp what on earth he was writing about. The truth and nothing but the truth was in Henry Lawson. Anyone who ever saw the man, and looked into his eyes, knew that he was the personification of truth. Lawson wrote the truth and the truth evidently is unpalatable. Breezy, expansive jingles about the outback are all very fine for school readers, and as propaganda for immigrants, but they don't express the soul of the toilers whom Lawson wrote for. Armchair criticism always fails in its purpose because it is invariably superficia and always conventional. As an ardent admirer of Lawson's works, I resent the imputation that the man had a gloomy outlook. Of course, if the truth is gloomy well then Lawson was gloomy; but the unfortunate part is that the conventional souls in our midst don't understand the truth of things and don't want to understand it. Your brilliant sub-leader on "Intolerance" furnishes the argument I desire to put forward. So long as Bishop Barnes is willing to stand up in his pulpit and talk trite trash, in which neither he nor half his congregation believe, he is accepted as a popular preacher and the conventionalists hail him as a heaven-inspired genius. Once he gets down to the truth of things and states it openly, fearlessly, and courageously, he is bitterly attacked. It is exactly the same with Dean Inge, known throughout the length and breadth of the Empire as the "gloomy dean." The truth is unpalatable; we don't want to hear it, and the man who utters it is assigned to oblivion by supercilious critics whose composition prevents them from getting down to bedrock and seeing the heart of things -I am, sir, &c.


Kangaroo Point, October 19

First published in The Brisbane Courier, 21 October 1927

[Thanks to the National Library of Australia's newspaper digitisation project for this piece.]

Note: this letter was written in repsonse to a report on a lecture about Henry Lawson, reprinted here.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on July 23, 2010 9:18 AM.

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