kulcha tursdy: A.B. (Banjo) Patterson

Andrew Barton (Banjo) Patterson is one of the iconic Australian poets, and his works evoke the beauty and wildness of the Aussie bush in a way that I adore. Banjo was a lawyer, but grew up with a deep love and respect for the Australian bush and the people making their way in it.  He also wrote ‘Waltzing Matilda’, the unoffical Australian national anthem. (At least, I think more people know the words to Waltzing Matilda!:))

And after watching The Man From Snowy River last night, which is one of my favourite films, it got me thinking about Banjo. Based on his poem, which is probably Australia’s best known poem and today’s kulcha tursdy feature, the film is full of stunning scenery, wonderful music and some great accents. :) Not to mention Kirk Douglas in dual roles as Harrison and Harrison’s estranged brother, aussie acting legend Jack Thompson and newcomer Tom Burlinson. The film was such a hit in Oz it spawned sequels and a tv series. And any worrying artistic licence with the story pales when you get to the chase at the end! If you haven’t seen it, I think it’s well worth checking out. But, of course, I’m fairly badly biased! :)

Anyway,introducing one of my favourite poems of all time. Enjoy Banjo’s tale of..

The Man From Snowy River

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses – he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
And the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight.

There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the Cup,
The old man with his hair as white as snow;
But few could ride beside him when his blood was fairly up –
He would go wherever horse and man could go.
And Clancy of the Overflow came down to lend a hand,
No better horseman ever held the reins;
For never horse could throw him while the saddle-girths would stand –
He learnt to ride while droving on the plains.

And one was there, a stripling on a small and weedy beast;
He was something like a racehorse undersized,
With a touch of Timor pony – three parts thoroughbred at least –
And such as are by mountain horsemen prized.
He was hard and tough and wiry – just the sort that won’t say die –
There was courage in his quick impatient tread;
And he bore the badge of gameness in his quick and fiery eye,
And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.

But still so slight and weedy, one would doubt his power to stay,
And the old man said, “That horse will never do
For a long and tiring gallop – lad, you’d better stop away,
These hills are far too rough for such as you.”
So he waited, sad and wistful – only Clancy stood his friend –
“I think we ought to let him come,” he said;
“I warrant he’ll be with us when he’s wanted at the end,
For both his horse and he are mountain bred.

“He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko’s side,
Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough;
Where a horse’s hooves strike firelight from the flintstones every stride,
The man that holds his own is good enough.
And the Snowy river riders on the mountains make their home,
Where the river runs those giant hills between;
I have seen full many horsemen since I first commenced to roam,
But nowhere yet such horsemen have I seen.”

So he went: they found the horses by the big mimosa clump,
They raced away towards the mountain’s brow,
And the old man gave his orders, “Boys, go at them from the jump,
No use to try for fancy riding now.
And, Clancy, you must wheel them, try and wheel them to the right.
Ride boldly lad, and never fear the spills,
For never yet was rider that could keep the mob in sight,
If once they gain the shelter of those hills.”

So Clancy rode to wheel them – he was racing on the wing
Where the best and boldest riders take their place,
And he raced his stock-horse past them and he made the ranges ring
With the stockwhip, as he met them face to face.
Then they halted for a moment, while he swung the dreaded lash,
But they saw their well-loved mountain full in view,
And they charged beneath the stockwhip with a sharp and sudden dash,
And off into the mountain scrub they flew.

Then fast the horsemen followed, where the gorges deep and black,
Resounded to the thunder of their tread,
And the stockwhips woke the echoes, and they fiercely answered back
From cliffs and crags that beetled overhead.
And upward, ever upward, the wild horses held their way,
Where mountain ash and kurrajong grew wide;
And the old man muttered fiercely, “We may bid the mob good day,
NO man can hold them down the other side.”

When they reached the mountain’s summit, even Clancy took a pull –
It well might make the boldest hold their breath;
The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden ground was full
Of wombat holes, and any slip was death.
But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head,
And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer,
And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,
While the others stood and watched in very fear.

He sent the flint-stones flying, but the pony kept his feet,
He cleared the fallen timber in his stride,
And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his seat –
It was grand to see that mountain horseman ride.
Through the stringybarks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground,
Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;
And he never drew the bridle till he landed safe and sound
At the bottom of that terrible descent.

He was right among the horses as they climbed the farther hill,
And the watchers on the mountain, standing mute,
Saw him ply the stockwhip fiercely; he was right among them still,
As he raced across the clearing in pursuit.
Then they lost him for a moment, where two mountain gullies met
In the ranges – but a final glimpse reveals
On a dim and distant hillside the wild horses racing yet,
With the man from Snowy River at their heels.

And he ran them single-handed till their sides were white with foam;
He followed like a bloodhound on their track,
Till they halted, cowed and beaten; then he turned their heads for home,
And alone and unassisted brought them back.
But his hardy mountain pony he could scarcely raise a trot,
He was blood from hip to shoulder from the spur;
But his pluck was still undaunted, and his courage fiery hot,
For never yet was mountain horse a cur.

And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges raise
Their torn and rugged battlements on high,
Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze
At midnight in the cold and frosty sky,
And where around the Overflow the reed-beds sweep and sway
To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,
The Man from Snowy River is a household word today,
And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.


About Miss J

Gen-x Australian female - out of my mind and my country. Cast adrift, as it were :) Enjoys: cat-cuddling, books, movies, music, theatre, travel, rpgs, cricket, F1 racing and all things to do with the sea..
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4 Responses to kulcha tursdy: A.B. (Banjo) Patterson

  1. The Man from Snowy River is a favorite poem of our team at The Great Divide too. We are a group of people who seek to celebrate and perpetuate a proud culture and heritage that is fast disappearing.
    Recently the Victorian government outlawed the Mountain Cattlemen from the High Country of this state. Such a decision may well be the death nell our traditions.
    I can guarentee you that much of the movie is true to type.
    Our team leader is Phil Maguire “the last man from snowy river”. He also was one of the “Cracks” in both movies
    I am also a cousin of the some of the other more famous mountain men.
    There is a tale that when they turned up at the set on the first morning and went off to Wardrobe department, they were sent away as they were perfect as themselves.
    They also did many of the stunts in the movies.
    What you see is what you get. Poetry in motion. Creativity and Reality rolled into one!

  2. cloudburst says:

    let me know if there’s anything I can do to help hold on to our heritage – I’ll add you to my links, but let me know if there’s anything else…

    many thanks for your comments – much appreciated.

    keep fighting the good fight.

  3. I read with great interest your informative post.

    On target, Bullseye!

    the Diamond Eagle

  4. G’day guys,
    I see you have had a look at our blog.
    Thanks for dropping by.
    We are working hard on developing it, its early days yet.
    We will be in the future doing features on the mountain cattlemen, banjo patterson, the death of the murray river, pioneers of the mallee and much much more.
    We have signed up a number of australian artists who have produced some amazing work portraying our Aussie culture. We plan on having a weekly comic strip as well.
    Thank you cloud burst for adding our link to your page. I am talking to my partners about more links on ours. Your blog is pretty impressive!
    And lastly if you have any suggestions at all just drop us a line on the Great Divide.
    Thanks for your support and encouragement.
    PS. we seem to have raised a few eyebrows in Parks Victoria! ROFL!

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