Folk poets


random trip report

Many years ago, Dave Gedye memorized some poems by:

BANJO PATERSON -- poet, journalist, lawyer, jockey, soldier, farmer -- is one of the best-loved figures of Australian literature. He wrote 'Waltzing Matilda', 'The Man from Snowy River', 'Clancy of the Overflow' and many other poems
and he convinced me that is was my patriotic duty to learn some equivalent American poems, which I guess are by Robert Service even though he wasn't American and didn't write about events in America (but what the heck, we'll take what we can get).

So I did, and nowadays when Dave and I are on the final bone-weary miles of hike, we are oft wont to clear our throats and resurrect the stories of Clancy of the Overflow and Dangerous Dan McGrew.

While on this subject, I should mention a poem by P.G. Wodehouse that my brother Stephen has memorized, and a variant of Casey at the Bat by Garrison Keillor.

So come, good men who toil and tire,
Who smoke and sip the kindly cup,
Ring round about the tavern fire
Ere yet you drink your liquor up;
And hear my simple songs of earth,
Of youth and truth and living things;
Of poverty and proper mirth,
Of rags and rich imaginings;
Of cock-a-hoop, blue-heavened days,
Of hearts elate and eager breath,
Of wonder, worship, pity, praise,
Of sorrow, sacrifice and death;
Of lusting laughter, passion, pain,
Of lights that lure and dreams that thrall...
And if a golden word I gain,
Oh, kindly folks, God save you all!
And if you shake your heads in blame...
Good friends, God love you all the same.

Last stanza, Prelude
from Ballads of a Bohemian
by Robert Service

The Ghost of the Murderer's Hut

by A. B. 'Banjo' Paterson

My horse had been lamed in the foot
In the rocks at the back of the run,
So I camped at the Murderer's Hut,
At the place where the murder was done.

The walls were all spattered with gore,
A terrible symbol of guilt;
And the bloodstains were fresh on the floor
Where the blood of the victim was spilt.

The wind hurried past with a shout,
The thunderstorm doubled its din
As I shrank from the danger without,
And recoiled from the horror within.

When lo! at the window a shape,
A creature of infinite dread;
A thing with the face of an ape,
And with eyes like the eyes of the dead.

With the horns of a fiend, and a skin
That was hairy as satyr or elf,
And a long, pointed beard on its chin --
My God! 'twas the Devil himself.

In anguish I sank on the floor,
With terror my features were stiff,
Till the thing gave a kind of a roar,
Ending up with a resonant 'Biff!'

Then a cheer burst aloud from my throat,
For the thing that my spirit did vex
Was naught but an elderly goat --
Just a goat of the masculine sex.

When his master was killed he had fled,
And now, by the dingoes bereft,
The nannies were all of them dead,
And only the billy was left.

So we had him brought in on a stage
To the house where, in style, he can strut,
And he lives to a fragrant old age
As the Ghost of the Murderer's Hut.

Copyright 2017 © David P. Anderson