‘Rivals’, The Bulletin, 14 July 1900
absent lovers, Boer War, chivalry, courtly love, Creeve Roe, favour, gift, heroism, Isabel, knight, maiden, marriage, romance, Sir Comfort, Sir Valour, soldier, valour, veldt, Victor Daley (1858-1905).
‘Rivals’ is an interesting attempt by medievalist writer Victor Daley to transform what must have been a fairly commonplace incident at that time into something more than it seems. The poem describes a young man, Sir Valour, taking leave of his sweetheart (“My Lady Fair”), and going off to fight in the Boer War. The leave-taking is transformed into a medieval tale, a deliberately romantic historicization of the present (Louise D’Arcens, Old Songs in the Timeless Land: Medievalism in Australian Literature 1840-1910, Turnhout, Brepols, 2011, p.110), whereby the couple pledge true love and the lady presents him with a token of her favour, before he sets out for foreign lands. In her knight’s protracted absence, Sir Comfort, an older and much wealthier man, slyly wins the favours of “Sweet Isabel,” and marries her. This turnaround is presumably hastened by the giving of a number of beautiful and very costly items: “Some simple rubies, strings of pearls / And diamonds for [her] hair.” Here Creeve Roe contrasts the stark unpleasant realities of the war with quasi-medieval ‘courtly’ values. The final scene, when the young man dies “in lands remote,” with Isabel’s name upon his lips, is one of shattered dreams and misplaced expectations.
Creeve Roe (Victor Daley)
14 July 1900, p.32
Journal Article (Microfilm)