Songs & Poems

Classic Aussie Songs & Poems

The Man from Snowy River

Lyrics by Banjo Patterson

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 bright and fiery eye,
And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.

But 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,
Those 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 hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones 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 stockhorse past them, and he made the ranges ring
With 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 sway,
Were 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 timbers 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 further 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 in 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.

Andrew Barton Paterson (‘Banjo’)

Waltzing Matilda

Lyrics by Banjo Patterson

Waltzing Matilda

Once a jolly swagman sat beside the billabong,
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he sat and waited by the billabong
You’ll come a waltzing matilda with me

Waltzing matilda, waltzing matilda
You’ll come a waltzing matilda with me
And he sang as he sat and waited by the billabong
You’ll come a waltzing matilda with me.

Down came a jumbuck to drink beside the billabong
Up jumped the swagman and seized him with glee
And he sang as he tucked jumbuck in his tuckerbag
You’ll come a waltzing matilda with me

Waltzing matilda, waltzing matilda
You’ll come a waltzing matilda with me
And he sang as he sat and waited by the billabong
You’ll come a waltzing matilda with me.

Down came the stockman, riding on his thoroughbred,
Down came the troopers, one, two, three.
“Where’s the jolly jumbuck you’ve got in your tuckerbag?
Who’ll come a waltzing matilda with me?

Waltzing matilda, waltzing matilda
You’ll come a waltzing matilda with me
And he sang as he sat and waited by the billabong
You’ll come a waltzing matilda with me.

Up jumped the swagman and plunged into the billabong,
“You’ll never catch me alive,” cried he
And his ghost may be heard as you ride beside the billabong,
You’ll come a waltzing matilda with me.

Waltzing matilda, waltzing matilda
You’ll come a waltzing matilda with me
And he sang as he sat and waited by the billabong
You’ll come a waltzing matilda with me.

Andrew Barton Paterson (‘Banjo’)

True Blue

Lyrics by John Williamson

Hey True Blue, don’t say you’ve gone
Say you’ve knocked off for a smoko
And you’ll be back later on
Hey True Blue, Hey True Blue

Give it to me straight
Face to face
Are you really disappearing,
Just another dying race,
Hey True Blue

True Blue, is it me and you?
Is it Mum and Dad, is it a cockatoo?
Is it standing by your mate
When he’s in a fight?
Or will she be right?
True Blue, I’m asking you…

Hey True Blue, can you bear the load?
Will you tie it up with wire,
Just to keep the show on the road?
Hey True Blue, Hey True Blue, now be Fair Dinkum

Is your heart still there?
If they sell us out like sponge cake
Do you really care?
Hey True Blue.

True Blue, is it me and you?
Is it Mum and Dad, is it a cockatoo?
Is it standing by your mate
When she’s in a fight?
Or will she be right?
True Blue, I’m asking you…

True Blue, is it me and you?
Is it Mum and Dad, is it a cockatoo?
Is it standing by your mate
When he’s in a fight?
Or will she be right?
True Blue … True Blue.

Words and Music by John Williamson

The Pub with No Beer

Lyrics by Slim Dusty

Oh it’s lonesome away from your kindred and all
By the campfire at night we’ll hear the wild dingoes call
But there’s nothing so lonesome so morbid or drear
Than to stand in a bar of a pub with no beer

Now the publican’s anxious for the quota to come
And there’s a far away look on the face of the bum
The maid’s gone all cranky and the cook’s acting queer
Oh what a terrible place is a pub with no beer

Now the publican’s anxious, for the quote to come,
And theres a far away look, on the face to the ‘bum’;
The maids gone all cranky, and the cook’s acting queer
What a terrible place, is a pub with no beer

Then the stockman rides up, with his dry dusty throat,
He breasts up to the bar, and pulls a wad from his coat,
But the smile on his face, quickly turns to a sneer,
As the barman says sadly “the pub’s got no beer”

Then the swaggie comes in, smothered in dust and flies,
He throws down his roll, and rubs the sweat from his eyes,
But when he is told he says, “what’s this I hear?
I’ve trudged fifty flamin’ miles, to a pub with no beer”

Now there’s a dog on the v’randa, for his master he waits,
But the boss is inside, drinking wine with his mates,
He hurries for cover, and he cringes in fear,
It’s no place for a dog, ’round a pub with no beer

Old Billy the Blacksmith, the first time in his life
Has gone home cold sober, to his darling wife,
He walks in the kitchen, she says “you’re early Bill dear”
But then he breaks down and tells her, “the pub’s got no beer”

So it’s lonesome away from your kindred and all,
By the campfire at night, we’ll hear the wild dingoes call,
But there’s nothing so lonesome,so morbid or drear,
Than to stand in a bar, of a pub with no beer.

I Was Only 19

Lyrics by Redgum

Mum and Dad and Danny saw the passing out parade at Puckapunyal
It was a long march from cadets
The sixth battalion was the next to tour and it was me who drew the card
We did Canungra and Shoalwater before we left

And Townsville lined the footpaths as we marched down to the quay
This clipping from the paper shows us young and strong and clean
And there’s me in me slouch hat with me SLR and greens
God help me – I was only nineteen

From Vung Tau riding Chinooks to the dust at Nui Dat
I’d been in and out of choppers now for months
And we made our tents a home, V.B. and pinups on the lockers
And an Asian orange sunset through the scrub

And can you tell me, doctor, why I still can’t get to sleep?
And night time’s just a jungle dark and a barking M.16?
And what’s this rash that comes and goes, can you tell me what it means?
God help me – I was only nineteen

A four week operation, when each step can mean your last one on two legs
It was a war within yourself
But you wouldn’t let your mates down ’til they had you dusted off
So you closed your eyes and thought about somethin’ else

And then someone yelled out “Contact”, and the bloke behind me swore
We hooked in there for hours, then a God almighty roar
And Frankie kicked a mine the day that mankind kicked the moon
God help me – he was goin’ home in June

And I can still see Frankie, drinkin’ tinnies in the Grand Hotel
On a thirty-six hour rec. leave in Vung Tau
And I can still hear Frankie, lying screaming in the jungle
‘Til the morphine came and killed the bloody row

And the Anzac legends didn’t mention mud and blood and tears
And the stories that my father told me never seemed quite real
I caught some pieces in my back that I didn’t even feel
God help me, I was only 19

And can you tell me, doctor, why I still can’t get to sleep?
Any why the Channel Seven chopper chills me to my feet?
And what’s this rash that comes and goes, can you tell me what it means?
God help me – I was only 19

Down Under

Lyrics by Men at Work

Traveling in a fried-out Kombi
On a hippie trail, head full of zombies
I met a strange lady, she made me nervous
She took me in and gave me breakfast
And she said

Do you come from a land down under
Where women glow and men plunder
Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder
You better run, you better take cover

Buying bread from a man in Brussels
He was six foot four and full of muscles
I said, “Do you speak-a my language”
He just smiled and gave me a Vegimate sandwich
And he said

I come from a land down under
Where beer does flow and men chunder
Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder
You better run, you better take cover

Lying in a den in Bombay
With a slack jaw, and not much to say
I said to the man, “Are you trying to tempt me
Because I come from the land of plenty”
And he said

Oh, do you come from a land down under, oh yeah yeah
Where women glow and men plunder
Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder
You better run, you better take cover

Livin’ in a land down under
Where women glow and men plunder
Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder
You better run, you better take cover
{Repeat to fade}

Poems

Bush Poetry

Poems for Kids

(from the Australian Poetry Library)

 

 

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