Rebirth of Reason

Banjo - Tales from Snowy River
Posted by Peter Cresswell on 8/07/2004, 6:58pm
Banjo Paterson was Australia's outback bard - his Man from Snowy River ballad is an Aussie Leaves of Grass; his Waltzing Matilda their unofficial national anthem. The National Geographic cover story this month celebrates The Banjo.
His poetry was as virile and muscular as Walt Whitman's; it spoke of breaking open a young country, and the people of independent spirit living that life - it celebrated the cattle-men and the ringers and the Australian landscape on which they painted their dreams as "from the Murray's green basin to the dusty outback, they waltzed their matilda all over."

After reading Snowy River Kipling wrote to Paterson's publishers, saying "Give my best salutations to Mr Paterson and tell him to do it again. There can't be too many men in this world singing about what they know and love and want other people to know and love."

While such people are even fewer today than they were in Kipling's day, Banjo's "ruined rhymes"still speak to us, and still inspire their dreams.

As Paterson himself responded to one of his admirers:

That is the greatest compliment a writer can have, to know that he has written a thing so truly that people not only believe it happened but that it happened to themselves.
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