A Classic Year: 6.0 "The Man from Snowy River" by A.B. "Banjo" Paterson

I look on "The Man from Snowy River" by A.B. "Banjo" Paterson as one of the two iconic Australian poems - the other being "My Country" by Dorothea Mackellar. Lines from the poem appear on the Australian ten-dollar note, and the way of life it describes - that of the mountain cattlemen of the Snowy River - was immortalised in the very first sequence of the Opening Ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics: a lone horseman rode into the main arena, cracked his whip and the ceremony was underway.

The poem tells the story of an epic ride by a mountain cattleman to round up a runaway horse, a horse of high pedigree, worth a thousand pounds - big money in anyone's terms. The local horsemen and "cracks" have rallied to the call, along with Clancy of the Overflow, old man Harrison, and a young horseman - "a stripling on a small and weedy beast" - who everyone, excepting Clancy, believes should stay behind and leave the ride to the experienced horsemen. But Clancy puts his case and the young man joins the other riders. Needless to say, it is this young rider who saves the day - "the man from Snowy River never shifted in his seat" - rounding up the colt and bringing him home to great acclaim and lasting memory. It's a rollicking poem whose rhythms attempt to match the gait of a galloping horse, and in the most part it successeds. There are a couple of places where I think the rhythm falters a little but they are few.

Text of the poem
A.B. "Banjo" Paterson Wikipedia entry
Paterson and the ten-dollar bill
Film adaptation of the poem
Paterson plaque in Sydney's Circular Quay

The next four works in this Classic Year:
7. "Nationality" by Mary Gilmore (1942)
8. "The Drover's Wife" by Henry Lawson (1892)
9. "Lilith" by Christopher Brennan (1898-1899)
10. Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner (1894)

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on February 20, 2008 4:08 PM.

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Great Australian Authors #40 - Zora Cross is the next entry in this blog.

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