Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Australian Alphabet

Words:  Unknown
Tune:  John Thompson (A variation on Flash Jack From Gundagai)

A is for Australia, the land in which we are;
B is for the bush, my boys, which stretches near and far;
C is for the cattle which we are paid to mind
D is for the dingo, a treacherous brute you'll find.

So, my Australian brothers, I hope that you will see
Signs of the times in our A B C.

E is for the eagle hawk, which plays havoc with our flocks;
F is for that little wretch - I mean the flying fox;
G is for the gray-flyer, a kind of kangaroo;
H is for the horse, my boys, we all have one or two.

I is for the iguana, which we never catch asleep;
J is for the jumbuck, colonial slang for sheep;
K is for the kangaroo, of which we have a host;
L is for the lyre-bird, the pheasant of the coast.

M is for the morepork, a very curious bird;
N is for the native, as curious as absurd;
O is for that little wretch -  I mean the opossum;
P stands for the public0house, where we do get bad rum.

Q is for Quirindi, where lives Mr Hope;
R stands for his rations, and S stands for his soap;
And of the netx letter I'd have you all beware,
For if you drink too much of it you'll spoil your nerves, I fear.

U is for all of you sitting here about;
V is for our voics, with which we raise a shout;
W is for our whips -  Oh! what a crack they make;
X is for the excitement, when a beast begins to break.

Y it is, and how it is, we are so very wise,
Has always been to me a matter of great surprise;
And as I'm not just now prepared to find a rhyme for Z,
I think we'll go into the bar, and have a nip instead.

Another from The Queenslander, via the Hurd Collection, this one ... "Supplied by A.M., Gayndah".

The Hurd Collection of clippings held at the State Library of Queensland includes a selection from the Songs of the Bush series which appeared in the late nineteenth century as part of the Flotsam and Jetsam column.

The clippings include this note:

Some correspondents who have been kind enough to respond to our request for contributions to this column have formed a wrong impression of the scope of the undertaking and have sent in bush poems - good enough in their way, but not what are wanted.  We ask only for bush songs - songs that are sung every day by the camp fire and in the hut but to familiar airs.  We fully appreciate the industry of those who have set themselves to compose songs since the first notice appeared, but we want only old ditties, such as "The Overlander" or "The Drover". ..

The illustration to this post is the cover of an unrelated book published in Melbourne by Valentine and Sons in 1915.

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