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Boyd, Bertha Martin (1836–1873)

On Saturday, the 30th August last, at Currawang, the icy hand of death was laid upon a heart which long had been

—beating high
With the pulse of poesy.

Most of the readers of the Goulburn Herald must have often noticed and admired the poetical contributions of Bertha; and all will regret to hear that she has passed away from our midst. Her poetry was not more namby-pamby versification or puerile doggerel such as is so frequently sent to and but too often inserted in Australian newspapers. It was true poetry, simple and unaffected, but with the ring of real feeling about it. It was the more remarkable for being written under great disadvantages.

Bertha was born in England on the 22nd October, 1830. Her father, the son of a captain in the army and the nephew of an admiral, was one of the Raynor's of Waledon in Cornwall. She came out to this colony at an early age with her father, and was subsequently married to a Mr. Boyd of Currawang. Amid the acres and distractions of many household duties the poetess found time to write many beautiful pieces which have appeared in the Goulburn Herald and other journals, and which have been widely known and universally admired.

The following lines, which appeared in the Goulburn Herald of June 9, 1872, seems to possess not only the poetry but the strange prophetic foresight of the seers and bards and minnesingers of yore, speaking as they do of that early and approaching death, which came only too surely and swiftly:–

LAST WORDS
O!, vainly twine those loving arms arounds me,
     They cannot keep the fleeting spirit in;
These biter tears upon my bosom falling
     My heart's last pulses into anguish wring.

Ah! Cease those sighs—let words of holy comfort
     Calm my last thoughts and soothe my dying breath;
Home—lamp like word !—The blessed Saviour left us
     To light the dying on the paths of death.

'Tis hard to part. In toil, grief, or trouble
     We have been one. The link is severed now.

I feel thy loneliness, but cannot aid thee
     those bitter, tears but chill me now.

A bird's note—list! Spring wanders in the valley;
     The sunny earth must wear her mantle green;
Her robe of beauty of its sucient fashion—
     While I, alas! spring's coming have not hope

But she will wrap me in her bosom kindly
     Let winter come—spring will linger long.
Near the lone spot, perchance, where I am sleeping
     The mountain thrust may wake her early song.

Let all forget, my memory's deeply graven
     Long in my bosom, my forsaken love—
Hush! Stay me not! —the mourner, heavy laden,
     must seek for peace to find it there above.

The deceased was highly respected. About three hundred people or more followed the remains to their lest earthly resting place; and there, beneath a broad tree on one of the wild hills around Currawang, in sight of the distant waters of Lake George, is Bertha's grave. By her own special request, often expressed, she was buried near to where the English church is about to be erected; and at the grave the officiating clergyman, the Rev. H. E. Taylor, asked those present to join in singing her favourite hymn, "Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me.'

Her poetry was always tinged with a deep religious strain; and her feelings on that important subject may be gathered from some lines which she had placed over her couch, and which had been sent her by Mrs. Thomas of Bishopthorpe—those beautiful lines beginning,

O Jesus ! make thyself to me
A living, bright reality.

One word in conclusion. It is proposed by some of her friends to erect a simple tombstone to her memory; and if any of those who have read and enjoyed her poetry would like to contribute to that last good office, they may do so by forwarding subscriptions to the Rev. H. E. Taylor, Gunning, who has promised to receive them. Keble College, Oxford, was raised in this way a monument to the memory of Keble. Who will help to lay a wreath upon the grave of the poetess of Argyle?

Original publication

Citation details

'Boyd, Bertha Martin (1836–1873)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/boyd-bertha-martin-21923/text31955, accessed 24 August 2019.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2019

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Rayner, Bertha Martin
  • Bertha of Argyle
Birth

22 October 1836
England

Death

30 August 1873
Currawang, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

childbirth complications

Cultural Heritage
Religious Influence
Occupation