French President’s Poem response/Henry Lawson – Poetry News Roundup November 3rd

Our final news roundup of the week brings you the heart-warming story of the President of France replying to a British girls poem with a poem of his own. We also look at a story that speculates whether Henry Lawson, the bush poet was gay.

A Poem from the President

It’s not every day that a British schoolgirl is likely to receive a letter from the president of France but that is exactly what happened. President Emmanuel Macron has written a poem to Sophie, a British school girl on her 13th birthday.

In April Sophie and her parents visited the Eiffel Tower during a trip to France. Sophie was so impressed that she wrote a poem about it and the poem was sent to the Elysee Palace, the official residence of the President of France, this was as France was preparing for the election that saw Macron replace François Hollande.

Quite how the poem came to be found after the upheaval of the last few months is uncertain but Macron put pen to paper and wrote a poem in return. Sophie’s poem talks about the wonders of the Eiffel Tower and her beauty, Macrons responds as though it is written by the tower herself in response to the compliments. When the poems first emerged in the news it was believed that Macron had written his poem in English but it has now been confirmed that the embassy in London translated the 21 lines from French.

President Macron is no stranger to poetry, he has been captured on film many times reciting full poems by heart. He is a huge advocate of cultural exchanges and languages as a vital key to greater understanding of each other in Europe.

Was Henry Lawson Gay?

In his recently published book “The Drover’s Wife” Frank Moorehouse, an award-winning writer has suggested that the relationship between Henry Lawson, the bush poet, and fellow bush poet Jim Gordon, who wrote under the name Jim Grahame might have been in an intense relationship.

Lawson is the iconic rugged Australian writer who appeared on the first $10 and has been immortalised though the use of his name on roadways and as place names. The two poets met in 1892, when Lawson was 25 and Gordon was 17 or 18 years old. Lawson was working for The Bulletin Magazine and Gordon, who was a bushman with experience was looking for a job.

The two men undertook an epic journey that took them from Bourke to the town of Hungerford on the Queensland border. It took them over three months to walk the 200km. Along the way they worked as roustabouts and slept under the stars. At the end of the journey they both went their separate ways, married and had children, although in Lawsons case the marriage only lasted six months and ended bitterly. They didn’t see each other again for another 20 years.

The evidence that Moorehouse uses to back up his claims is based around quotes in some of the writing of both men, letters between them and also quotes from “Mates: The Friendship that Sustained Henry Lawson” written by Professor Gregory Bryan.

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