‘On Keira’, The Bulletin, 16 June 1910
Armour, chivalry, death, E. J. Brady (1869-1952), Gerringong, humour, Illawarra region, knight, loss, love, Mt Keira, NSW, old age, regret, Shoalhaven, Wollongong escarpment, youth.
This intensely nostalgic medieval poem by E. J. Brady “is most distinctive for its unapologetic insertion of the chivalric into the local”, which becomes the source of unintended humour (Louise D’Arcens, Old Songs in the Timeless Land: Medievalism in Australian Literature 1840-1910, Turnhout, Brepols, 2011, p.141). Looking out on that same geological vista (the Wollongong escarpment), it is indeed difficult to envisage Brady’s youthful knight in armour dashing stubbornly to fame and fortune at the expense of his own happiness, with anything like a straight face. However, with some deft poetic substitution and “Tennysonian” reworking on Brady’s part (D’Arcens, p.141), the Illawarra region of NSW is transformed, at least temporarily, into a mystical fairyland. As the narrator of the poem here regretfully contemplates the paths he didn’t follow, this poem serves as a poignant reminder to readers of the need to make the right decisions in life, especially those concerning love and happiness, lest they suffer the unrelenting pangs of grief and loss.
E. J. Brady
16 June 1910, p.39