‘Ye Wearie Wayfarer’ was written by Adam Lindsay Gordan (19 October 1833 – 24 June 1870) who is an Australian jockey, police officer, poet, and politician. The poem below by Adam Lindsay Gordan is the last fyttle well known as ‘Finis Exoptatus’ but we listed the title Ye Wearie Wayfarer, just as Gordan did!
About the Title
Since the poem has gained a lot of popularity and fame, the lyrics of the poem are found in many versions with different titles such as Gordon’s Creed and Finis Exopatus. But the entire poem is titled originally as ‘Ye Wearie Wayfarer’. This is a very long poem written in eighty fyttles and the below poem is the last fyttle.
hys Ballad in Eight Fyttes
(A Metaphysical Song)
Ye Wearie Wayfarer
“There’s something in this world amiss
Shall be unriddled by-and-bye.” — Tennyson.
Here we go with the lyrics of Ye Wearie Wayfarer from Adam Lindsay Gordan originally written in eighty fittles.
Boot and saddle, see, the slanting
Rays begin to fall,
Flinging lights and colours flaunting
Through the shadows tall.
Onward! Onward! Must we travel?
When will come the goal?
Riddle I may not unravel,
Cease to vex my soul.
Harshly break those peals of laughter
From the jays aloft,
Can we guess what they cry after?
We have heard them oft;
Perhaps some strain of rude thanksgiving
Mingles in their song,
Are they glad that they are living?
Are they right or wrong?
Right, ’tis joy that makes them call so,
Why should they be sad?
Certes! We are living also,
Shall not we be glad?
Onward! Onward! Must we travel?
Is the goal more near?
Riddle we may not unravel,
Why so dark and drear?
Yon small bird his hymn outpouring,
On the branch close by,
Recks not for the kestrel soaring
In the nether sky,
Though the hawk with wings extended
Poises over head,
Motionless as though suspended
By a viewless thread.
See, he stoops, nay, shooting forward
With the arrow’s flight,
Swift and straight away to nor’ward
Sails he out of sight.
Onward! onward! thus we travel,
Comes the goal more nigh?
Riddle we may not unravel,
Who shall make reply?
Ha! Friend Ephraim, saint or sinner,
Tell me if you can —
Tho’ we may not judge the inner,
By the outer man,
Yet by girth of broadcloth ample,
And by cheeks that shine,
Surely you set no example
In the fasting line —
Could you, like yon bird, discov’ring.
Fate as close at hand,
As the kestrel o’er him hov’ring,
Still, as he did, stand?
Trusting grandly, singing gaily,
Confident and calm,
Not one false note in your daily
Hymn or weekly psalm?
Oft your oily tones are heard in
Chapel, where you preach,
This the everlasting burden
Of the tale you teach:
“We are d—d, our sins are deadly,
You alone are heal’d” —
’Twas not thus their gospel redly
Saints and martyrs seal’d.
You had seem’d more like a martyr,
Than you seem to us,
To the beasts that caught a Tartar
Once at Ephesus;
Rather than the stout apostle
Of the Gentiles, who,
Pagan-like, could cuff and wrestle,
They’d have chosen you.
Yet I ween on such occasion,
Your dissenting voice
Would have been, in mild persuasion,
Raised against their choice;
Man of peace, and man of merit,
Pompous, wise, and grave,
Ephraim! Is it flesh or spirit
You strive most to save?
Vain is half this care and caution
O’er the earthly shell,
We can neither baffle nor shun
Onward! onward! still we wonder,
Nearer draws the goal;
Half the riddle’s read, we ponder
Vainly on the whole.
Eastward! in the pink horizon,
Fleecy hillocks shame
This dim range dull earth that lies on,
Tinged with rosy flame.
Westward! as a stricken giant
Stoops his bloody crest,
And tho’ vanquished, frowns defiant,
Sinks the sun to rest.
Distant yet, approaching quickly,
From the shades that lurk,
Like a black pall gathers thickly,
Night, when none may work.
Soon our restless occupation
Shall have ceased to be;
Units! in God’s vast creation,
Ciphers! what are we?
Onward! onward! oh! faint-hearted;
Nearer and more near
Has the goal drawn since we started,
Be of better cheer.
Preacher! all forbearance ask, for
All are worthless found,
Man must aye take man to task for
Faults while earth goes round.
On this dank soil thistles muster,
Thorns are broadcast sown;
Seek not figs where thistles cluster,
Grapes where thorns have grown.
Sun and rain and dew from heaven,
Light and shade and air,
Heat and moisture freely given,
Thorns and thistles share.
Vegetation rank and rotten
Feels the cheering ray;
Not uncared for, unforgotten,
We, too, have our day.
Unforgotten! though we cumber
Earth we work His will.
Shall we sleep through night’s long slumber
Onward! onward! toiling ever,
Weary steps and slow,
Doubting oft, despairing never,
To the goal we go!
Hark! the bells on distant cattle
Waft across the range;
Through the golden-tufted wattle,
Music low and strange;
Like the marriage peal of fairies
Comes the tinkling sound,
Or like chimes of sweet St. Mary’s
On far English ground.
How my courser champs the snaffle,
And with nostril spread,
Snorts and scarcely seems to ruffle
Fern leaves with his tread;
Cool and pleasant on his haunches
Blows the evening breeze,
Through the overhanging branches
Of the wattle trees:
Onward! to the Southern Ocean,
Glides the breath of Spring,
Onward, with a dreary motion,
I, too, glide and sing —
Forward! forward! still we wander —
Tinted hills that lie
In the red horizon yonder —
Is the goal so nigh?
Whisper, spring-wind, softly singing,
Whisper in my ear;
Respite and nepenthe bringing,
Can the goal be near?
Laden with the dew of vespers,
From the fragrant sky,
In my ear the wind that whispers
Seems to make reply —
“Question not, but live and labour
Till yon goal be won,
Helping every feeble neighbour,
Seeking help from none;
Life is mostly froth and bubble,
Two things stand like stone,
KINDNESS in another’s trouble,
COURAGE in your own.”
Courage, comrades, this is certain,
All is for the best —
There are lights behind the curtain —
Gentiles, let us rest,
As the smoke-rack veers to seaward,
From “the ancient clay”,
With its moral drifting leeward,
Ends the wanderer’s lay.
Find the tunes of Adam Lindsay Gordan’s Ye Wearie Wayfarer: Click Here
In Eighty Fyttles
Fyte-1: By Wood and Wold
“Beneath the Green wood bough”—W.Scott
Lightly the breath of the spring wind blows,
Though laden with faint perfume,
“Tis the fragrance rare that the bushman knows,
The scent of the wattle bloom.
Two-thirds of our journey at least are done,
Old Horse! Let us take a spell
In the shade from the glare of the noonday sun,
Thus far we have travelled well;
Your bridle I will slip, your saddle ungirths,
And lay them beside this log,
For you will in that track of reddish earth,
And shake like a water-dog.
Upon Yonder rise there is a clump of trees—
Their shadows look cool and broad—
You can crop the grass as fast as you please,
While I stretch my limbs on the sward;
Tis pleasant, I ween, with a leafy screen
Over the weary head, to lie
On the mossy carpet of emerald green,
Neath the vault of the azure sky;
Thus all alone by the wood and wold,
I yield myself once again
To the memories old that, like tales fresh told,
Come flitting across the brain.
Fytte-2: By Flood and Field
“They have saddled a hundred-milk white steeds,
They have bridled a hundred black”—Old Ballad
I remember the lowering wintry morn,
And the midst on the Cotswold Hills,
Where I once heard the blast of the huntsman’s horn,
Not far from the seven rills.
Jack Esdale was there, and Hugh St. Clair,
Bob Chapman and Andrew Kerr,
And big George Griffiths on Devil-May-Care,
And—Black Tom Oliver.
And one who rode on a black-brown steed,
Clean jointed, sinewy, spare,
With the lean game head of the Blacklock breed,
And the resolute eye that loves the lead,
And the quarters massive and square—
A tower of strength with a promise of speed,
(There was Celtic blood in the pair)
I remember how merry a start we got,
When the red fox before from the gorse,
In a country so deep, with a scent so hot,
That the hound could outpace the horse,
I remember how few in the front rank shew’d
How endless appeared the tail,
On the brown-hillside, where we crossed the road,
And headed towards the vale.
The dark-brown steed on the left was there,
On the right was a dappled grey,
And between the pair, on a chestnut mare,
The duffer who writes this lay,
What business had “this child” there to ride?
But little or none at all;
Yet I held my own for a while in “the pride
That goeth before a fall.”
Though rashness can hope for but one result,
We are heedless when fate draws neigh us,
And the maxim holds good, “Quem perdere vult
Deus, dementat prius.”
The right hand man to the left hand said,
As down in the vale we went,
“Harden your heart like a millstone, Ned,
And set your face as flint;
Solid and tall is the rasping wall
That stretches before us yonder,
You must have it at speed or not at all,
Twere better to halt than to ponder,
For the stream runs wide on the take-off side,
And washes the clay bank under;
Here goes for a pull, ‘tis a madman’s ride,
And a broken neck if you blunder.”
No word in reply his comrade spoke,
Nor wavered nor once looked round,
But I saw him shorten his horse’s stroke
As we splashed through the marshy ground;
I remember the laugh that all the while
On his quiet features played,
So he rode to his death, with that careless smile,
In the van of the “Light Brigade”;
So stricken by Russian grape, the cheer
Rang out, while he toppled back,
From the shattered lungs as merry and clear,
As it did when it roused the pack.
Let never a tear his memory stain,
Give his ashes never a sigh,
One of many who perished, not in vain,
As a type of our chivalry—
I remember one thrust he gave to his hat,
And two to the flanks of the brown,
And still as a statue of old he sat,
And he shot to the front, hands down;
I remember the snort and the stag-like bound,
Of the steed six lengths to the fore,
And the laugh of the rider while, landing sound.
He turned in his saddle and glanced around;
I remember—but little more,
Save a bird’s-eye gleam of the dashing stream,
A jarring thud on the wall,
A shock and the blank of a nightmare’s dream,
I was down with a stunning fall.
In this way, Adam Lindsay Gordan had written eighty fyttes in his own style of lyrics in Australian slang. Hope you all enjoy the poem.