Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tuesday Poem: "Waltzing Matilda" by Banjo Paterson


It was pointed out recently to me by a poetry-loving correspondent that is ironic that Australia is deporting criminals when the white colonialism of Australia was built on the deportation of criminals from England.

And also, arguably, the most popular ballad in Australia's literary history and, some say, the unofficial  national anthem, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waltzing_Matilda is Banjo Paterson's ballad of a swagman who poaches a sheep, an offence that would probably get him deported under the Australian government's current practice (that is if said swagman was born overseas, which in Paterson's day, he could easily have been born somewhere in the UK.

   Waltzing Matilda

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled:
"Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me?"


Chorus:
Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled:
"You'll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me."


Down came a jumbuck to drink at that billabong.
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee.
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag:
"You'll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me."


(Chorus)


Up rode the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred.
Down came the troopers, one, two, and three.
"Whose is that jumbuck you've got in your tucker bag?
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me."


(Chorus)


Up jumped the swagman and sprang into the billabong.
"You'll never take me alive!" said he
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong:
"Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me?"

*Marie Cowan (original author - Banjo Paterson)

There are no "official" lyrics to "Waltzing Matilda" and slight variations can be found in different sources. This version incorporates the famous "You'll never catch me alive said he" variation introduced by the Billy Tea company. Paterson's original lyrics referred to "drowning himself 'neath the coolibah tree".


These are the lyrics written in 1903 by Marie Cowan to advertise Billy Tea.




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Tune for "Waltzing Matilda"

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The original lyrics of "Waltzing Matilda", transcribed by Christina Macpherson.


Banjo Paterson