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The Poet....Andrew Barton 'Banjo' Paterson....

'Banjo' Paterson was one of the most prolific of Australian Poets and probably one of the most accessible. His poems continue to delight Australians of all ages and capture so many aspects of Australian life. He depicts the many characters of the times including the Drover, Battler, Drinker, Gambler, Shearer, Fighter, Larrikin, and Squatter. His relevance to today is seen with topics such as the Republic, the environment, the war, and the tough economic times. His imagery in many cases is unsurpassed. At one time he said he lacked the ability of Kipling or Gordon and exclaimed Lawson as the one with the literary merit. Seeing himself as a mere 'versifier':

"There's nothing here sublime

But just a roving rhyme

Run off to pass the time."

Paterson wrote of the things he knew about. "I simply told the story, with the place, the events and the people."

From his childhood, Banjo collected bush ballads, eventually publishing a selection of fifty six in 1905 "The old Bush songs Composed and Sung in the Bushranging, Digging and Overlanding Days." Hence he was one of the first serious collectors of Australian folksong. Debate has existed in aspects of Banjo the Poet and the Man.

* The rather private persona as opposed to the extroverted characters he depicts.

* The 'debate' with Henry Lawson.

* His two main works, "The Man from Snowy river" and of course "Waltzing Matilda" have caused much controversy over the years.

The Poem

Geoffrey's performance was titled 'The Man from Ironbark', because the poem of the same name is so indicative of the Australian larrikin.

"The Man from Ironbark"

It was the man from Ironbark who struck the Sydney town

He wandered over street and park, he wandered up and down

He loitered here, he loitered there, till he was like to drop

Until at last in sheer despair he sought a barber's shop

'Ere! shave me beard and whiskers off, I'll be a man of mark,

I'll go and do the Sydney toff up home in Ironbark.'

The barber man was small and flash, as barbers mostly are,

He wore a strike-your-fancy sash, he smoked a huge cigar;

He was a humorist of note and keen at repartee,

He laid the odds and kept a 'tote', whatever that may be,

And when he saw our friend arrive, he whispered 'Here's a lark!

Just watch me catch him all alive this man from Ironbark'

There were some gilded youths that sat along the barber's wall,

Their eyes were dull, their heads were flat, they had no brains at all;

To them the barber passed the wink, his dexter eyelid shut,

I'll make this bloomin' yokel think his bloomin' throat is cut.'

And as he soaped and rubbed it in he made a rude remark:

'I s'pose the flats is pretty green up there in Ironbark.'

A grunt was all reply he got; he shaved the bushman's chin,

Then made the water boiling hot and dipped the razor in.

He raised his hand, his brow grew black, he paused awhile to gloat,

Then slashed the red-hot razor-back across his victim's throat

Upon the newly-shaven skin it made a livid mark-

No doubt it fairly took him in-the man from Ironbark.

He fetched a wild up-country yell might wake the dead to hear,

And though his throat, he knew full well was cut from ear to ear,

He struggled gamely to his feet, and faced the murderous foe.

'You've done for me! you dog, I'm beat! one hit before I go!

I only wish I had a knife, you blessed murdering shark!

But you'll remember all your life the man from Ironbark'

He lifted up his hairy paw, with one tremendous clout

He landed on the barber's jaw, and knocked the barber out.

He set to work with tooth and nail, he made the place a wreck;

He grabbed the nearest gilded youth, and tried to break his neck.

And all the while his throat he held to save his vital spark,

And 'Murder! Bloody Murder!' yelled the man from Ironbark.

A peeler man who heard the din came in to see the show;

He tried to run the bushman in, but he refused to go.

And when at last the barber spoke and said 'Twas all in fun-

'Twas just just a little harmless joke, a trifle overdone.'

'A joke!' he cried, 'By George, that's fine; a lively sort of lark;

I'd like to catch that murdering swine some night in Ironbark.'

And now while round the shearing floor the listening shearers gape,

He tells the story o'er and o'er, and brags of his escape.

'Them barber chaps what keeps a tote, by George, I've had enough,

One tried to cut my bloomin' throat, but thank the Lord it's tough.'

And whether he's believed or no, there's one thing to remark,

That flowing beards are all the go way up in Ironbark.

His life..... A.B. 'Banjo" Paterson 

17 Feb 1864 Born at "Narambla",near Orange, 1870 Family moved to "Illalong", near Yass,

1875-1880 Attended the Sydney Grammar School

1880 Commenced legal studies.

1885 First poem "El Mahdi to the Australian Troops", published in the Bulletin

1886 Admitted as an attorney and solicitor. Subsequently practised as a partner in the firm of Street and Paterson.

1889 Publication of "Clancy of the Overflow" in the Bulletin. Publication of Australia for the Australians, a political pamphlet.

1890 Publication of "The Man from Snowy River" in the Bulletin

1895 Publication of The Man from Snowy River and other verses. "Waltzing Matilda"written at Dagworth Station, Queensland.

1899-1900 Travelled to South Africa and acted as a war correspondent, reporting on the Boer War for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Argus.

1900 Publication of novel An Outback Marriage in serial form, under the title, In No Man's Land.

1903 Married Alice Emily Walker

1903-1906 Editor of the Evening News

1906-1908 Editor of the Town and Country Journal

1908-1912 Lived at "Coodra Vale" near Wee Jasper

1914 Sailed to England hoping to become
a war correspondent (World War I)

1915-1919 Served in A.I.F rising to the rank of Major & served in Egypt and Palestine.

1922-1930 Editor of Sydney Sportsman.

1939 Appointed Commander of the British Emp.

5 Feb 1941 Died at Sydney


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