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Hugh McCrae Biography

(1876–1958), Satyrs and Sunlight, Colombine, Idyllia, The Mimshi Maiden, The Forests of Pan

australian vision poetry subsequent

Australian poet, born in Melbourne, where he was articled to an architect. He then became a freeland writer and moved to Sydney in 1904. Satyrs and Sunlight (1909) was described by Kenneth Slessor as the beginning of modern Australian poetry. Creating a mythical landscape of satyrs, centaurs, and unicorns, he departed from the nationalist-realist school of the 1890s. The titles of subsequent collections, Colombine (1921), Idyllia (1922), The Mimshi Maiden (1938), The Forests of Pan (1944), and Voice of the Forest (1945), are indicative of their pastoral and mythological content. Contemporaries, from Mary Gilmore to Judith Wright, delighted in his vision and technique but subsequent criticism has deplored its excesses and logical weaknesses. Nevertheless, his poetry is not pure pastoral: the tension between the decorative surface and the sexual impact of his descriptions is its distinctive strength. His importance in Australian literature is that in 1909 he anticipated, perhaps influenced, the development of the Vision school and later contributed to their magazine Vision. Other works include My Father and His Friends (1935), a biography of George Gordon McCrae, containing memories of Marcus Clarke, Henry Kendall, and Adam Lindsay Gordon.

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