…is the Australian poet, Henry Kendall. Except, he’s not REALLY a son – he was not born there, and he only lived there for 6 years, from 1875 to 1881, when he was New South Wales’ first Forest Inspector. But, you know the story, when you are on a good thing…! And, anyhow, as a lover of Australian literature, I’m not going to argue against naming a town after one of our favourite poets. Anything that keeps our writers front and centre is fine by me.
Henry Kendall’s most famous poem is “Bell-birds”. It’s not quite as famous as Dorothea Mackellar’s “My country” and Banjo Paterson’s “Waltzing Matilda” but it is definitely up there. It is, for example, included in last year’s anthology, 100 Australian poems you need to know. It was written in 1869, two years before he went to Camden Haven (ie, Kendall as it was then known) and it reflects his love of nature – the sort of temperate forest landscape he would have found around Kendall. You can imagine the bell-birds in this scene can’t you? The first verse goes like this:
By channels of coolness the echoes are calling,
And down the dim gorges I hear the creek falling:
It lives in the mountain where moss and the sedges
Touch with their beauty the banks and the ledges.
Through breaks of the cedar and sycamore bowers
Struggles the light that is love to the flowers;
And, softer than slumber, and sweeter than singing,
The notes of the bell-birds are running and ringing.
And I will close on this little Henry Kendall taster … posting from an iffy Internet Cafe in sunny Port Macquarie (about 30mins drive from the little village of Kendall).