Marie E.J. Pitt poet, socialist, feminist, ecologist and anarchist was born at Bullumwaal - a gold mining town north of the Gippsland town of Bairnsdale in 1869. From there the family took up a small selection at Wy Yung. Her formative years were spent in and around Bairnsdale and Wy-Yung. Pitt later recalled how her upbringing influenced her later politics; "Having only a bush school education, I was naturally thrown on my own resources a great deal, and because of this I am absolutely independent in thought, and belong to no particular school of thought."
In 1893 she married and followed her husband, a miner, to various mining camps on the west coast of Tasmania. In a brief article on Pitt John Adams noted; "As a woman amongst so many men, she began to become extremely interested in women's rights and became well known for her views on the subject."2 She was active in workers politics and was elected Vice President of the Workers Political League at Mathinna. In 1905 she returned to Melbourne and became immersed in a number of social and political movements. She was closely associated with the Victorian Socialist Party at this time and editor of their journal The Socialist.
In 1911 Horses of the Hills, her first book of poetry, was published. In 1925 The Poems of Marie E.J. Pitt appeared and in 1944 the Selected Poems of Marie E.J.Pitt was issued. Her poetry falls into two fairly distinct types - the romantic and somewhat nostalgic lyrical ballad and the angry and sometimes bitter political poems. Whilst the former poems have dated badly (in Hail and Fairwell (1971) Chester Eagle mocked the ballad Bairnsdale for its 'archaic sentimentality' the latter are often as valid as when they were penned. The poem "Women : a reply" expressed her concerns for equality of women. "Doherty's Corner" expresses her concern for the environment "There's no bush today at Doherty's Corner, Only strange green hills and the glint of a far bay... "with a tinge of melancholy and regret.
One reviewer of the 1924 volume spoke of her work in glowing terms; "Few Australian poets have a wider appeal than Marie E.J. Pitt. Her passionate love of nature and of her native country is reflected in all her writings. For rhythmic quality and graceful construction her verse compares more than favourably with that of most other Australian writers..."
However conservative novelist and short story writer Hal Porter was more concerned about her politics than her ballads. In his book Bairnsdale(1977) he noted: " ....her batch of very melodious and regret tinged lyrics about Bairnsdale had endeared her to those who would have reeled back in dismay from her politics and her way of life had they known about them".
In later years she lived in a de facto relationship with poet and parliamentary draftsman Bernard O'Dowd. Pitt seems to have had differing opinions with O'Dowd over a number of issues including World War 1 on which she took a strong pacifist line. This opinion is strongly reflected in her anti-war poem "The Mercy" which questioned the glory of war and attacked the hallowed icons of both Gallipoli and the Anzac. She wrote:
This text is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License