Alice Guerin Crist
Biography of Alice Guerin Crist
Alice Guerin Crist , author and journalist, was born on 6 February 1876 at Clare Castle, Clare, Ireland, daughter of Patrick Guerin, chapel master, and his wife Winifred, née Roughan. Alice migrated with her family to Queensland at the age of 2. As her father was a teacher, she spent her childhood at small, south-eastern rural schools where he supervised her education and her work as a pupil-teacher. In 1896 she was appointed to Blackhall Range State School near Landsborough but after a transfer to West Haldon next year she was unfairly dismissed when an inspector found her en route to a wedding to retrieve truant students. She returned to her family at Douglas on the Darling Downs. On 4 October 1902 at St Patrick's Catholic Church, Toowoomba, she married a German immigrant farmer, Joseph Christ, who later changed the name to Crist. The couple moved to an isolated property at Rosenberg near Bundaberg in 1910 but returned to Toowoomba in 1913 when Jo began a fuel supply business there.
Alice pursued an active literary career despite significant periods when she had to concentrate on farm work and the care of her five children. A prolific writer of verse and short fiction, she published widely in the Australian secular and religious press including the Bulletin (Sydney), Worker, Steele Rudd's Magazine, Home Budget, Toowoomba Chronicle, Catholic Advocate and Catholic Press. Her devout Irish Catholicism was at first associated with democratic politics and in 1902 she joined the Social Democratic Vanguard. She also became friendly with another poet and schoolteacher (Dame) Mary Gilmore , who published her work in the woman's page of the Australian Worker. Crist wrote about her rural and domestic experiences, frequently celebrating the beauty of the bush and the virtues and struggles of Irish Australian pioneers. A marked Celtic influence is discernible in poems about the homesickness of immigrants and in the sprites and faeries of her nature verse and poems for children.
Crist was a long-term member and vice-president of the Toowoomba Ladies' Literary Society, which played an important role promoting the culture of the Darling Downs. In 1917 her youngest brother Felician was killed at Passchendaele, Belgium; for many years she contributed Anzac Day poems to the Toowoomba Chronicle. She published When Rody Came to Ironbark and Other Verses (Sydney, 1927) and Eucharist Lilies and Other Verses (Sydney, 1928).
From 1927 the Brisbane Catholic Advocate began to pay Crist for rural and religious poems, short stories and a serial celebrating the contribution of the Christian Brothers to Catholic education, which resulted in the novel, ''Go It! Brothers!!” (Sydney, 1928). In 1930 she became 'Betty Bluegum', editor of the children's page, and used the versatility of this outlet to stimulate Queensland's Catholic children. Crist's page, like her verse, was an inventive mix of Catholic Irish-Australian nationalism, domestic virtue and appreciation of nature, and she encouraged young correspondents.
In 1935 she was awarded King George V's jubilee medal and in 1937 King George VI's coronation medal. Crist died of tuberculosis on 13 June 1941 in hospital at Toowoomba and was buried in Toowoomba cemetery. Her husband, three daughters and two sons survived her. In September 1953 a wing of the Holy Spirit Hospital, Brisbane, was dedicated in her name.
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Alice Guerin Crist Poems
A magic wrought of dying dreams A wizard light that creeps and glows; Painting grey hills and sluggish streams In tints of gold and rose
All rank on rank the tall white lillies stood, The graceful palms against the rose-flushed sky Showed gemmed with dew-drops, and red poppies glowed Through the rank grass near by.
In a garden where the may made the straggling fences gay And the roses cream and scarlet shed their petals on the breeze
A Dream Of Heaven
They tell of harps and golden crowns, and singing, But oh, I think, when ends the strife and pain,
They don’t believe in fairies, Those old folk wide and staid, They’ve never caught the glitter Of their wings in forest shade.
The First School Day
We are saddling Don and Laddie, Mid laughter, and fun and noise And maybe, a sigh in passing For vanished holiday joys.
Oh my heart beat high with joy elate, When Danny rode in the Hunters’ Plate On Enniskillen, the raking grey- A mighty jumper, with power to stay!
Sixty Years Ago
I The double-blossomed peach-trees with rosy bloom were gay When grandpa rode beneath them upon his courting way,
A Letter From Palestine
A letter from “The East” it came today, And all the house is lightened of its gloom: A sun-browned desert wind through every room
We found one evening, in the scrub, a road the timber-getters made, a winding, dim, mysterious track, and we raced down it, half afraid.
A Young Rebel
The sun is setting behind the range, his golden rays pour down On a little figure, childish, strange, Bending over a volume worn,
As we came down the old boreen, Rose and I – Rose and I, At vesper time on Sunday e’en, We heard a banshee cry!
Murtagh The Cobbler
The harvest moon was shinin’ As Murtagh came from the fair, And Oh! The scent of the new-mown hay And the gorsebloom in the air.
A Song Of Delight
Oh! Have you stolen out, one summer morning To pick white crocus ‘neath the garden wall, Or shaken softly the big scented roses
A magic wrought of dying dreams
A wizard light that creeps and glows;
Painting grey hills and sluggish streams
In tints of gold and rose
Staining with fire the cherry-snow
Lighting our hearts with sudden flame
As if the love of long ago
Back from its ashes came