‘The Sagamen’, The Bulletin, 2 May 1907

The Sagamen (2 May, 1907), p. 43.bmp

Dublin Core


‘The Sagamen’, The Bulletin, 2 May 1907


armour, battle-axe, conquest, dragon ship, Francis William Ophel (1871-1912), Freya, heroism, Iceland, Norns, Odin, paganism, runes, sagas, shields, Skaldic tales, spells, swords, Thor, Valhalla, Valkyrie, Vikings, violence, warriors.


‘Prospect Good’ was the nom de plume of the gold prospector, fossicker, and bush poet, Francis William Ophel. This poem, ‘The Sagamen,’ is filled with vivid imagery drawn in the style of Old Icelandic sagas (Louise D’Arcens, Old Songs in the Timeless Land: Medievalism in Australian Literature 1840-1910, Turnhout, Brepols, 2011, p.142). According to Ophel’s logic, the content of these Skaldic tales is no different from speeches and editorials designed to legitimize nineteenth-century imperial narratives; they cleverly subvert truth and disguise real-life events under a nuanced and textured layer of bravado and heroic deeds where violence is praised and overvalued. In contrast, Ophel’s is likely suggesting here that there is nothing glorious about slaughter, plunder, theft and rapine, and the over reliance on strong-arm tactics. Presumably the political rationale for this strategy is formed along the lines of: ‘they’ did it ‘back then,’ so it must be alright for ‘us’ to emulate ‘now’; but Ophel, who realises that this reasoning is mendacious, states plainly and firmly in The Sagamen’s final couplet: “The naked truth is hidden / Beneath a web of words".


‘Prospect Good’ (Francis William Ophel)


The Bulletin


The Bulletin


2 May 1907, p.43


Public Domain


Journal (Microfilm)