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The Cross

Leon Gellert 1892 (Australia) – 1977



'I wear a cross of bronze,' he said,
'and men have told me I was brave.'
He turned his head,
And pointing to a grave,
'they told me that my work of war was done.'
His fierce mouth set.
'and yet, and yet…..'
he trembled where he stood,
'and yet, and yet'…..
I have not won
That broken cross of wood.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Leon Gellert

Leon Maxwell Gellert was an Australian poet. He was born in Walkerville, a suburb of Adelaide, South Australia. He was subjected to bullying by his father, a Methodist of Hungarian extraction, to which he reacted by learning self-defence at the YMCA. After an education at Adelaide High School, he embarked on a teaching career; first as a student-teacher at Unley High School then at the University of Adelaide's Teacher Training College. He enlisted with the Australian Imperial Forces 10th Battalion within weeks of the outbreak of the Great War and sailed for Cairo on 22 October 1914. He landed at Ari Burnu Beach, Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, was wounded and repatriated as medically unfit in June 1916. He attempted to re-enlist but was soon found out. He returned to teaching at Norwood Public School. During periods of inactivity he had been indulging his appetite for writing poetry. Songs of a Campaign was his first published book of verse, and was favourably reviewed by The Bulletin. Angus & Robertson soon published a new edition, illustrated by Norman Lindsay. His second, The Isle of San, also illustrated by Lindsay, was not so well received however. more…

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