Thursday, June 18, 2020

Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson

He was a great Australian poet. He wrote poems about inner city and country life.

Mulga Bill's Bicycle was my favourite as a child, simply because it is funny.


I know this well enough to recite, as I did read Australian poetry to my father and step mother and quickly sent them to sleep in their lounge chairs.

'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze;
He turned away the good old horse that served him many days;
He dressed himself in cycling clothes, resplendent to be seen;
He hurried off to town and bought a shining new machine;
And as he wheeled it through the door, with air of lordly pride,
The grinning shop assistant said, "Excuse me, can you ride?"

"See here, young man," said Mulga Bill, "from Walgett to the sea,
From Conroy's Gap to Castlereagh, there's none can ride like me.
I'm good all round at everything, as everybody knows,
Although I'm not the one to talk - I hate a man that blows.
But riding is my special gift, my chiefest, sole delight;
Just ask a wild duck can it swim, a wildcat can it fight.
There's nothing clothed in hair or hide, or built of flesh or steel,
There's nothing walks or jumps, or runs, on axle, hoof, or wheel,
But what I'll sit, while hide will hold and girths and straps are tight:
I'll ride this here two-wheeled concern right straight away at sight."

'Twas Mulga Bill, from Eaglehawk, that sought his own abode,
That perched above the Dead Man's Creek, beside the mountain road.
He turned the cycle down the hill and mounted for the fray,
But ere he'd gone a dozen yards it bolted clean away.
It left the track, and through the trees, just like a silver streak,
It whistled down the awful slope towards the Dead Man's Creek.

It shaved a stump by half an inch, it dodged a big white-box:
The very wallaroos in fright went scrambling up the rocks,
The wombats hiding in their caves dug deeper underground,
As Mulga Bill, as white as chalk, sat tight to every bound.
It struck a stone and gave a spring that cleared a fallen tree,
It raced beside a precipice as close as close could be;
And then as Mulga Bill let out one last despairing shriek
It made a leap of twenty feet into the Dead Man's Creek.

'Twas Mulga Bill from Eaglehawk, that slowly swam ashore:
He said, "I've had some narrer shaves and lively rides before;
I've rode a wild bull round a yard to win a five-pound bet,
But this was the most awful ride that I've encountered yet.
I'll give that two-wheeled outlaw best; It's shaken all my nerve
To feel it whistle through the air and plunge and buck and swerve.
It's safe at rest in Dead Man's Creek, we'll leave it lying still;
A horse's back is good enough henceforth for Mulga Bill."

39 comments:

  1. I think most Australian children could recite at least some of his poetry. I wonder whether it is still taught?
    And yes, Mulga Bill's bicycle was a favourite.

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    1. EC, I hope it is although I don't remember being taught the same at school.

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  2. Loved reading this. Never heard of this Australian hero!

    XO
    WWW

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    1. Like many very clever WWW, it was also a flawed character.

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  3. Thank you for reminding me of this wonderful author.

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  4. A Bush Christening was a favourite of a resident where I volunteered years ago. Being of Irish descent there was just something about her recitation, the way she got the metre just right, then when it came to the bit about McGinnis Whiskey burst out laughing saying 'I could do with a bit of that'

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    1. Cathy, I plan to use that one in the future. It would be brilliant in an Irish accent. Thanks for not giving the line away.

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  5. Banjo Patterson's work should never be allowed to be forgotten.

    "Waltzing Matilda" never fails to bring a smile to my face and a tear or two to my eyes. It is part of our Aussie backbone...as are all the writings by "Banjo".

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    1. Banjo was very Australian, wasn't he?

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    2. He certainly was, Hels. :)

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    3. Lee, I had actually forgotten he wrote Waltzing Matilda. It can be sung in a rollicking style or a very sad style.

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    4. My goodness!! How could you forget that, Andrew? :) Here's some information to keep your mind refreshed and alert! Your history lesson to learn over this coming weekend, laddie! :)

      The original lyrics were written in 1895 by Australian poet Banjo Paterson, and were first published as sheet music in 1903. Extensive folklore surrounds the song and the process of its creation, to the extent that it has its own museum, the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton, in the Queensland outback, where Paterson wrote the lyrics.

      In 2012, to remind Australians of the song's significance, Winton organised the inaugural Waltzing Matilda Day to be held on 6 April, the anniversary of its first performance.

      The song was first recorded in 1926 as performed by John Collinson and Russell Callow. In 2008, this recording of "Waltzing Matilda" was added to the Sounds of Australia registry in the National Film and Sound Archive, which says that there are more recordings of "Waltzing Matilda" than any other Australian song.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waltzing_Matilda

      A TEST WILL BE SET ON MONDAY WHEREIN I EXPECT YOU TO ANSWER ALL QUESTIONS CORRECTLY!!! :)

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    5. Sorry Miss. A busy social weekend. I won't have time.

      I read somewhere that the words were changed but to find out why and what was changed I would have to listen to a podcast. It seems there weren't official words to the song until the original manuscript was found in 1972.

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  6. I remember that one from school days, it was fun when the teacher read it to us, not so much when we had to learn the whole thing and recite it.

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  7. It would be even better with the verse breaks.

    I'd feel better about ABP if he wasn't indirectly responsible for the destruction of fragile Alpine habitats on account of the weird attachment of certain political sectors (when I'm saying "weird" it's not that I don't understand where they are coming from but they are just so wrong) to allowing feral horses to range unhindered. At least in Victoria it looks as though something will be able to be done about this.

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    1. Marcellous, I tried, three times to fix it. It was fine in draft and while I rarely preview, I did and it would appear as you describe. It was getting later and later and in the end I uttered an expletive, clicked publish and went to bed. I did hand type the first verse, which is why it is ok, but cut and pasted the rest. I will fix it up, as it is too good to be spoilt with the lack of breaks.

      Who was really to know about hooved damage in his day. I have a post already written about the brumbies, perhaps for publication tomorrow, although I might take the day off tomorrow, so to speak.

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  8. That was a fun poem. Definitely fun to read. :-)

    Greetings from London.

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    1. Pleased you liked it Cuban. Sorry about the verse non breaks.

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  9. That is one good poem.
    Didn't know it, like Banjo he wrote wonderful writings and the museum in Winton is good and I expect it's much improved now after it was rebuilt and is called Waltzing Matilda Museum.

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    1. Margaret, I am amazed you don't know it. Winton hey. Let me check. Oh, middle of nowhere.

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  10. Brilliant! He paints a picture with his words don't you think Andrew, I could see it play out clearly as I was reading 😊

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    1. Grace, very much so. No photos required.

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  11. Glad to make his acquaintance.

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    1. I hoped you liked the poem, Cynthia.

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  12. I don't know "Mulga Bill" (and I'm impressed that you do, word for word!) but I think I have heard of Banjo Patterson. His name probably turned up in an Australian movie I was watching or something like that.

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    1. Steve, and as mentioned earlier, he did write the words of Waltzing Matilda.

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  13. Anonymous8:19 am

    Clancy of the Overflow is my favourite, and I heard Jack Thompson read it once, was quite emotional.

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    1. Anon, yes that is another good one. I've fixed up the spelling, thanks.

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  14. Anonymous8:22 am

    PS - only one T in Paterson. I just found the youtube video of Jack reading Clancy, with music

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    1. Another thought: isn't the shop assistant in Mulga B rather an equivalent (if less malicious) of the barber in Clancy? There's definitely a trope of country innocent meets urban sophisticate going on.

      Can you think of other examples in AMP's oeuvre?

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    2. OMG I already deleted it to amend it once. Can't be bothered again. AMP = ABP

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    3. Marcellous, have you been dealing with insurance matters of late, or maybe your investment portfolio? I am not as familiar with Clancy. I agree. He sounds like a supercilious young salesman. But!!!! He was quite right.

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    4. Investment portfolio? As if! I did have an account with AMP for as long as the honeymoon initial higher interest period lasted, but no longer. Just a simple old typo.

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  16. Loved it:) And love that you read to your father and step mother.

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    1. Sandra, and sent them to sleep within two minutes.

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