Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Man From Snowy River  -  1890
Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson
13 stanzas, 104 lines
genre  - poetry
my rating  -  4 out of 5 stars

I often regret that I do not read much poetry.  But what kind of poems would be good to begin with?  After thinking about it for awhile, I came to the conclusion that it would be easiest to start with literary ballads or narrative poems. 

According to Wikipedia:  "...most ballads are narrative in nature, with a self-contained story..."  (Coincidentally, the Wikipedia article about ballads features a section concerning bush ballads and shows a cover of Banjo Paterson's 1905 Old Bush Ballads.)

Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson were writing for the Sydney Bulletin in 1892 when Lawson suggested a 'duel' of poetry to increase the number of poems they could sell to the paper. The Man From Snowy River was a result of the 'duel'.

The poem about a colt that has escaped its paddock and is now running with the 'brumbies'  and the owner's effort to get the horse back.  All the crack riders have assembled to try to recapture the expensive horse.  Among those gathered is a young man.

'He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko's side,
    Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,'

Mount Kosciuszko is the highest mountain in Australia, with a height of 7,310 ft.  Eugene Von Guerard painted this about 30 years before Paterson wrote The Man From Snowy River.

About the author  - 

Andrew Barton Paterson was born 17 February 1864 in New South Wales.  Paterson's early education came from a governess, but when he was able to ride a pony, he was taught at the bush school at Binalong. In 1874 Paterson was sent to Sydney Grammar School.  At 16, he became a clerk in a law firm and in 1886 Paterson was admitted as a qualified solicitor.

In 1885, Paterson began submitting and having his poetry published in the Sydney edition of The Bulletin under the pseudonym of "The Banjo", the name of a favorite horse.

Paterson became a war correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age during the Second Boer War, sailing for South Africa in October 1899. His graphic accounts attracted the attention of the press in Britain.  He was editor of the Sydney Evening News (1904–06) and of the Town and Country Journal (1907–08).

On 1903 he married Alice Emily Walker. The Patersons had two children, Grace and Hugh.  Paterson died of a heart attack on 5 February 1941 at the age of 76.

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