Read The Old Bush Songs by A.B. Paterson Free Online
Book Title: The Old Bush Songs|
The author of the book: A.B. Paterson
Edition: Echo Library
Date of issue: February 1st 2007
ISBN 13: 9781406823196
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 7.45 MB
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Reader ratings: 3.9
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A.B. Paterson, the Australian poet who gave the world Waltzing Matilda and The Man From Snowy River, is responsible for bringing this collection of songs to the public in 1906.
"The object of the present publication is to gather together all the old bush songs that are worth remembering. Apart from other considerations, there are many Australians who will be reminded by these songs of the life of the shearing sheds, the roar of the diggings townships, and the campfires of the overlanders. The diggings are all deep sinking now, the shearing is done by contract, and the cattle are sent by rail to market, while newspapers travel all over Australia; so there will be no more bush ballads composed and sung, as these were composed and sung, as records of the early days of the nation. In their very roughness, in their absolute lack of any mention of home ties or of the domestic affections, they proclaim their genuineness. They were collected from all parts of Australia, and have been patched together by the compiler to the best of his ability, with the idea of presenting the song as nearly as possible as it was sung, rather than attempting to soften any roughness or irregularity of metre. Attempts to ascertain the names of the authors have produced contradictory statements, and no doubt some of the songs were begun by one man and finished or improved by another, or several others. Some few fairly recent ballads have been included, but for the most part no attempt has been made to include any of the more ambitious literary productions of modern writers. This collection is intended to consist of the old bush songs as they were sung in the early days, and as such it is placed before the reader."
I thought this was a wonderful idea, and the songs themselves are truly a record of the early days in Australia. I learned a lot (humping the bluey does not mean what we might first think!) and had a wonderful time imagining myself listening to these songs being sung by some old swagman in a cabbage-tree hat while we sat by the campfire waiting for the billy to boil.
There were also two Aboriginal songs contributed by someone who mentioned that he could never learn what the words meant and that he thought the people themselves did not know. I have to take exception to that, though. Of course the people knew what their songs meant, but why should they tell the 'whitefella'?
In some places, Paterson steps in after the verses with some necessary explanation of various words. Here is a good example, the final two stanzas of the song of a sheep-shearer called Flash Jack From Gundagai:
I’ve pinked ’em with the Wolseleys and I’ve rushed with
And shaved ’em in the grease, my boys, with the grass seed
But I never slummed my pen, my lads, whate’er it might
While shearin’ for old Tom Patterson, on the One Tree Plain.
I’ve been whalin’ up the Lachlan, and I’ve dossed on Cooper’s
And once I rung Cudjingie shed, and blued it in a week.
But when Gabriel blows his trumpet, lads, I’ll catch the
And I’ll push for old Tom Patterson’s, on the One Tree
Here is the vocabulary help:
“I’ve pinked ’em with the Wolseleys, and I’ve rushed with B-bows, too.” — Wolseleys and B bows are respectively machines and hand-shears, and “pinking” means that he had shorn the sheep so closely that the pink skin showed through. “I rung Cudjingie shed and blued it in a week,” i.e., he was the ringer or fastest shearer of the shed, and he dissipated the earnings in a single week’s drunkenness.
“Whalin’ up the Lachlan.” — In the old days there was an army of “sundowners” or professional loafers who walked from station to station, ostensibly to look for work, but without any idea of accepting it. These nomads often followed up and down certain rivers, and would camp for days and fish for cod in the bends of the river. Hence whaling up the Lachlan.
From the difficult conditions of trying to build a life in the country, to comments on various political situations, to the proud stockman on his horse, these songs illustrate the early days in a way no dry history book ever could, capturing the romance as well as the tears of Colonial days in Australia.
And now I plan to go watch The Man From Snowy River once again. I'll curl up under my bluey and go back in time, since I am not quite ready to leave poetic Australia just yet. I think I might even dig out my copy of Banjo's own poems and spend some quality time waltzing Matilda with him.
To hump bluey is to carry one’s swag, and the name bluey comes from the blue blankets. To waltz Matilda is the same thing as to hump the bluey, and a swag is "a traveler's bundle containing personal belongings, cooking utensils, food, or the like." Thanks to both Paterson and Dictionary.com for these definitions!
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Read information about the authorAndrew Barton 'Banjo' Paterson (1864-1941). Poet, ballad writer, journalist and horseman.
A. B. 'Banjo' Paterson, known as Barty to his family, was born Andrew Barton Paterson at Narrambla, near Orange on 17 February 1864. His parents, Andrew Bogle and Rose Isabella Paterson were graziers on Illalong station in the Yass district.
Paterson's early education took place at home under a governess and then at the bush school in Binalong, the nearest township. From about the age of ten years he attended the Sydney Grammar School. He lived with his grandmother in Gladesville and spent the school holidays at Illalong station with his family.
After completing school the 16-year-old Paterson was articled to a Sydney firm of solicitors, Spain and Salway. He was admitted as a solicitor in 1886 and formed the legal partnership, Street and Paterson. During these years Paterson began publishing verse in the Bulletin and Sydney Mail under the pseudonyms 'B' and 'The Banjo'.
In 1895, at the age of 31 and still in partnership with Street, Andrew Barton Paterson achieved two milestones in Australian writing. He composed his now famous ballad 'Waltzing Matilda' and his first book, The Man from Snowy River, and other verses, was published by Angus & Robertson, marking the beginning of an epoch in Australian publishing. This hallmark publication sold out its first edition within a week and went through four editions in six months, making Paterson second only to Kipling in popularity among living poets writing in English. His poetry continues to sell well today and is available in many editions, some of which are illustrated.
Paterson travelled to South Africa in 1899 as special war correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald during the Boer War, and to China in 1901 with the intention of covering the Boxer Rebellion but he arrived after the uprising was over. By 1902 Paterson had left the legal profession. The following year he was appointed Editor of the Evening News (Sydney), a position he held until 1908 when he resigned to take over a property in Wee Jasper.
In 1903 he married Alice Walker in Tenterfield. Their first home was in Queen Street, Woollahra. The Patersons had two children, Grace born in 1904 and Hugh born in 1906.
During World War I Paterson sailed to Europe hoping for an appointment as war correspondent. Instead, during the course of the war he was attached as an ambulance driver to the Australian Voluntary Hospital in France and was commissioned to the 2nd Remount Unit of the AIF. He was eventually promoted to Major.
In Australia again he returned to journalism, retiring in 1930. He was created CBE in 1939. At the time of his death on 5 February 1941 his reputation as the principal folk poet of Australia was secure. His body of work included seven volumes of poetry and prose in many editions, a collection The Collected Verse of A.B. Paterson (1923), a book for children The Animals Noah Forgot (1933), and an anthology The Old Bush Songs (1905), in addition to his many pieces of journalism and reportage.
Paterson's role in Australian culture has been celebrated on the Australian $10 note.
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