Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Swagman's Dream


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Twas in the lovely Queensland bush, a worn out swagman lay
His head was pillowed on his sway, his thoughts were far away.
The scenes of bygone happy days before his vision passed.
The scenes that long had passed away too happy for to last

Take me to my little farm beside the running brook
And on my wife and children dear, O, once more let me look.
Alas, those joys that thrilled his heart, and caused bright hopes to be
Was only visions of the past in that poor swagman's dream.

It was poverty through raging drought caused him to lose his farm,
Cruel death had claimed his wife, and ended life's sweet charm
His children he was forced to leave for charity to keep
And he aloe was left to bear his sorrow, keen and deep.

Footsore and worn in search of work, he wandered day by day
Through long and lonely miles of bush he tramped his weary way
Until weary, sad and sick at heart, no hopes within him gleam,
He falls asleep, and home once more he sees it in a dream.

In dreamland he again beheld his far-off home
Where he was forced by poverty an outcast for to roam
Once more he's standing by its side beside the running stream
Then greets his wife and family and murmers in a dream

Then suddenly he feels a sting, and wakens with a start,
A cruel adder in his flesh has seized its deadly dart
He knows that he is called upon to cross death's icy stream
And in that peaceful land he meets the loved ones of his dream.

Another from Australian Tradition, Issue 19, March 1969:

Collected by R.Michell of the Queensland Folklore Society from Enos Newitt, 1963.

Sung by Albert and Enos Newitt of Bundaberg, Queensland. The origin of the song is uncertain, but they may have learned it from their eldest brother, who was a trooper during the shearers' strikes of 1891-2, but more probably learned in the Bundaberg district.

The song is a mixture of bush subject-matter and Victorian sentimentality - not really a typical bush song at all, but a hybrid.

The illustration to this post is Down On His Luck by Frederick McCubbin

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