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John Le Gay Brereton (1871-1933) was an Australian poet, critic and writer. After an early stint as librarian, he was eventually appointed professor of English at the University of Sydney. He was the first president of the Fellowship of Australian Writers when it was formed in Sydney in 1928. Two of the major influences on him were the English writer Christopher Marlowe, and the American Walt Whitman. He was also friendly with other early Australian poets. Through the 1890s and later in the new century, Brereton was a respected member of the literary Bohemia which nurtured, among others, Henry Lawson and Christopher Brennan.
Although he married and fathered five children, there is an undercurrent of male bonding in some of his work, and he was particularly drawn to themes of homosexuality in the poetry of Whitman. Cling to Me is not an overtly ‘gay’ poem, however it could be read that way, and has been anthologized in collections of gay poetry.
Cling to Me was awarded 3rd place in the 4th Komos Choral Composition Competition 2017 (Bologna, Italy).
Text by John Le Gay Brereton