Leon Gellert


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(1892–1977), born Walkerville, SA, was a schoolteacher before he was wounded at Gallipoli. In 1917 he published Songs of a Campaign (see War Literature), which won the University of Adelaide's Bundey prize for poetry and established Gellert as the soldier-poet of the day. In eloquent poems such as ‘Through a Porthole’, ‘Patience’, ‘The Burial’, ‘The Diggers’ and ‘Attack at Dawn’, Gellert recorded the dignity and courage of the soldier caught haplessly in the futility of war. In 1919 he published The Isle of San, a long allegorical poem divided into six dreams with a prologue and an epilogue and numerous songs and sonnets that are used as interludes between the dreams. In 1928 he included the connecting pieces of The Isle of San in a booklet, Desperate Measures, which is largely concerned with the vicissitudes of domesticity, Gellert having married in 1918. He taught in Sydney after the war before his friendship with Norman Lindsay, Sydney Ure Smith and Bert Stevens led him into journalism, initially with Art in Australia, then with Home and later as literary editor, columnist and book reviewer with the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph. His later publications included the satirical These Beastly Australians (1944), Week after Week (1953) and Year after Year (1956).

From The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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