When he wants to frame his argument against British crowds then he goes to the wilderness in Canada to live in a cottage with a considerable library as if he were at home in the Lake District, and he does not live in burrow, or nest, or cliff-face palace or amazing velvet ball lined with mirrors, but in his normal home, a cottage, and let me imagine (though no proof) that he sees himself wearing his usual daily clothes in that setting, not a dress or a ruff, not an incredible shawl, but the same trousers he always wears, though maybe warmer: perhaps he mentally gives himself a coat.
… there are daily
reports of people overriding
the most exotic restraints
to become ordinary. The armless woman
uses her toes to make woodburn kittens.
The blind man demonstrates vacuums
and sells lots of them, as convinced
of lint as the next person. Shall I go on?
Kay Ryan, To Explain the Solitary from Elephant Rocks, 1996. Adam Lindsay Gordon was addicted to horse riding in the northern hemisphere and then he was the same way in the southern hemisphere when his father sent him to South Australia equipped with a letter of introduction to the mounted police; but then he became a published poet where he was not one before, so there was a difference to his life (the difference was the publishing since he had written poems privately, personally, previously), he made life easier for the compilers of Inspirational Quotes by inventing the lines, "Life is mostly froth and bubble | Two things stand like stone | Kindness in another's trouble | Courage in your own" for Ye Wearie Wayfarer His Ballad - in Eight Fyttes, 1867, and still he rode dangerously, falling off his horse onto his head; and continued to ride in steeplechases, a favourite sport of his from childhood onwards -- one school expelling him when he wagged class to compete in races and the law nearly locking him up at seventeen when he fetched back the impounded horse that he had rented for a race -- and steeplechasing had already been imported south by the time he got there, but racing was more dangerous in Australia, he said when he wrote an article about it for the Australasian in 1868, and not fruitfully dangerous, he asserted, just bang-about for no sane reason that he could see. “Steeplechasing is of course intended to be a dangerous pastime, but the sport is scarcely enhanced by making it as dangerous as it can be made.”
This much at least will scarcely be gainsaid, our horses (to say nothing of their riders) seldom last long at cross-country work. The continual hard raps on heavy redgum or stringy bark rails, coupled with the constant jarring shocks caused by landing on a soil baked by an Australian sun, is enough to cripple the strongest knees and wear out the toughest sinews in a very few seasons.
The range of weights should be changed, he says, and the races should be shifted to a different time of year to ensure that the earth is soft. (I am finding all of this in Henry Kendall's 1892 Lindsay Gordon memoir.) The normalcy of the season needs to yield to the normalcy of malleable ground, and then – what? – gentlemen can join. “I think we should get a better and more respectable class of riders, for there are gentlemen here that would ride their own horses if they could.” You are allowed to feel that he has carried over with him, in his molten impressions, a form of society that will allow the words “gentleman,” “better,” “respectable,” “own,” to function as an argument. The gods on Olympus are unoriginally emotional but they transform into gold and can fly. Last weekend I watched an East Coast artist who was installing his work in Las Vegas put a multicoloured sculpture in front of a patterned wall and wonder if the look was “too Circus Circus,” a critique that everybody around him understood.