Ned Kelly

The True History of the Kelly Gang is not for the faint of heart – this retelling of a famous outlaw’s tale is gritty in the extreme. Director Justin Kurzel turns the popular romance narrative of outlawry on its head with a child’s eye view of the Australian anti-hero’s origin story, a view that pulls no punches and leaves no intriguing detail of the legend unexplored.

Russell Crowe plays a major role in this origin story, as young Ned’s mentor Harry Power, leading him on his first real adventure away from home. The bushranger instills in Ned a desire to tell his own story, in his own words, in defiance of the corrupted, oppressive legal records that will dog his legacy throughout his short life.

This poem, based on the 57th Psalm, is in Ned’s voice, at the end of the road, desperately trying to set the record straight before all is lost, scribbling in a fury at the scene of a siege.

Grant me this, my son, that in good faith
I’ve written down your history myself,
for in your care my words may find safekeeping
until the plague upon our land has passed.
I call upon your duty to me, son,
for you must live, and by your works requite me.
No one else will trouble for my bones,
for those who lay me low despise us.
You must persevere – they’ll test your love.
I crouch here at bay, among dire men;
arrayed against us, soldiers hot for our blood.
Their mouths leer with malice,
knowing a mere word from them could end the likes of us.
My son, do not look to the heavens for rescue,
their glory is paramount, but we die alone.
A baited snare lay waiting for my men,
and all the while a boot pressed on our necks,
but those who dug our graves in this ambush
will join us in our deaths, as I’m a man.
My faith in my own destiny is strong,
and as I write to you, I claim my own.
Remember me as a man, and no fool’s slave.
Sing out the ballads of our land – sing loud!
Sing ditties that defame all wicked men.
Our music has the grit to rouse the dawn.
In words of my own choosing, tell my tale.
Our hymns are of a different kind out here.
No kindness ever smiled without the sting
of bitterest derision on our fates.
Though over all the one sky looms, unmoved,
and for a greater glory all are judged.

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Filed under Corruption, Music, Poetry, The True History of the Kelly Gang

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