Thursday, February 17, 2011

Happy Birthday, Banjo

Today Andrew Barton Paterson, known as Banjo to his readers, was born in Narrambla, New South Wales, 1864. I expect most Americans only know "The Man from Snowy River", but he also wrote the words to "Waltzing Matilda". For a time this prolific poet was one of the most popular in the English-speaking world. And look - the Australians even put him on their money! Many of his works are here, and here are a couple of lighter ones to go on with:

Any Other Time

All of us play our very best game—
      Any other time.
Golf or billiards, it’s all the same—
      Any other time.
Lose a match and you always say,
“Just my luck! I was ‘off’ to-day!
I could have beaten him quite half-way—
      Any other time!”

After a fiver you ought to go—
      Any other time.
Every man that you ask says “Oh,
      Any other time.
Lend you a fiver! I’d lend you two,
But I’m overdrawn and my bills are due,
Wish you’d ask me—now, mind you do—
      Any other time!”

Fellows will ask you out to dine—
      Any other time.
“Not to-night, for we’re twenty-nine —
      Any other time.
Not to-morrow, for cook’s on strike,
Not next day, I’ll be out on the bike —
Just drop in whenever you like —
      Any other time!”

Seasick passengers like the sea—
      Any other time.
“Something . . I ate . . disagreed . . with me!
      Any other time
Ocean-trav’lling is . . simply bliss,
Must be my . . liver . . has gone amiss . .
Why, I would . . laugh . . at a sea . . like this—
      Any other time.”

Most of us mean to be better men—
      Any other time:
Regular upright characters then—
     Any other time.
Yet somehow as the years go by
Still we gamble and drink and lie,
When it comes to the last we’ll want to die—
     Any other time!

Old Man Platypus

Far from the trouble and toil of town,
Where the reed beds sweep and shiver,
Look at a fragment of velvet brown -
Old Man Platypus drifting down,
Drifting along the river.

And he plays and dives in the river bends
In a style that is most elusive;
With few relations and fewer friends,
For Old Man Platypus descends
From a family most exclusive.

He shares his burrow beneath the bank
With his wife and his son and daughter
At the roots of the reeds and the grasses rank;
And the bubbles show where our hero sank
To its entrance under water.

Safe in their burrow below the falls
They live in a world of wonder,
Where no one visits and no one calls,
They sleep like little brown billiard balls
With their beaks tucked neatly under.

And he talks in a deep unfriendly growl
As he goes on his journey lonely;
For he's no relation to fish nor fowl,
Nor to bird nor beast, nor to horned owl;
In fact, he's the one and only!

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