Banjo Paterson, Bush Poet
Banjo, the Bush Balladeer
Banjo Paterson, the well-loved Australian poet, is known chiefly for his 'Waltzing Matilda'. It's our unofficial anthem.
He vividly captured the 'feel' of the Bush, the
vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,
And at night the wond'rous glory of the everlasting stars
and for city-bound Australians, even those with no childhood memories of camping under the ti-tree or curled up in a sleeping bag beneath a mighty Murray Red Gum, Banjo evokes a deep nostalgia for a way of life that is now, forever, in the past.
The Man from Snowy River
Magnificent video of Banjo's poem, complete with stunning views and the round up of wild brumbies by the superb horsemen of the Snowy River
The Man from Snowy River DVD
The rural grazing life in the Snowy Mountains has hardly changed since Banjo Paterson traveled the high country and wrote his famous "Man from Snowy River" poem. His poetry is an authentic voice of a frontier society in which song and campfire recitation were much appreciated entertainment.
Under the Shade of a Coolabah
Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a coolabah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me."
The Melody of Waltzing Matilda
Popular belief has Banjo writing the lyrics in 1895 at the Macpherson family Station in Queensland.
Christina Macpherson adapted the tune from one which she heard, she said, played by a band at the Warrnambool Races. What she heard was almost certainly the Scottish song 'Thou Bonnie Wood of Craigielea".
But is it an Irish Melody?
There are many who say the melody is Irish. Perhaps it's an old tune called 'Go to the Devil and Shake Yourself'. Indeed if the music is played, not as a march, but as a jig in 6/8 time, it's unmistakeably Irish.
Go To The Devil And Shake Yourself
From the album, Celtic Dreamer
Have a listen. Can you hear Waltzing Matilda?
The Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton - In the heart of Queensland
The Waltzing Matilda Centre, Winton, in the heart of Queensland, is a permanent memorial to Banjo's work.
Up until a decade or so back, Winton was known chiefly as the little town placed under martial law during the Great Shearers' Strike in the 1890s. An estimated 500 shearers had camped just south of town in a show of workers' solidarity.
"The Man from Snowy River" (1895), has sold more copies than any other book of Australian poetry
The Passing of Banjo
Banjo died in 1941, just short of his 77th birthday, leaving a valuable heritage of enduring myths.
His vivid images, written with an obvious love of the bush, still have today a real sense of the townsman's longing.
And I somehow rather fancy that I'd like to change with Clancy,
Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go,
While he faced the round eternal of the cash-book and the journal --
But I doubt he'd suit the office, Clancy, of The Overflow.
- Top 20 Banjo Poems
Paterson is a rather fun poet in his approach to his subject matter and language. He apparently poured a cup of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow into his recipe, and has what New Englanders may find as a Robert Frost flavor
- Music Samplers
Banjo Paterson's Poems recorded by Wallis and Matilda- an alphabetical list
Poets similar to Banjo
- Robert Service
Robert Service was a people's poet. They knew that any verse of his would be a lilting thing, clear, clean and power-packed, beating out a story with a dramatic intensity that made the nerves tingle.
- Rudyard Kupling
For many years Rudyard Kipling has been deeply unfashionable as an imperial apologist. Recently there has been a revival of interest especially with people who can read his work with an open mind.
How about you?
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