Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Gum Tree With Six Branches

Words: Walter P Keen
Tune:  Traditional (Australia's On The Wallaby)

I roamed the bush one summer's eve, while wattle trees were blooming
And aided by the Myall wood, in a land so sweet perfuming,
At sunset, feeling tired, I slept beneath the bowers,
And as I dreamt a spirit arose, from out of the flowers,
The spirit of Australia, was what it said to me
Oh son of mine I'll show to you your magic native tree.

One branch is called Victoria and one is New South Wales,
Then South and West Australia, each gallantly prevails.
With Queensland and Tasmania, dll rich in mines and ranches,
That's federal Australia, the gumtree with six branches.

The spirit said: 'In that tree, there's untold wealth awaiting,
The labour of her children, so why be hesitating,
The task is not beyond you, each healthy son and daughter,
But chiefly you must always—supply that tree with water.
Then she will freely yield the things that you require,
And to its independence your nation will aspire.'

The spirit said: Then rest not, till your task it is completed,
Tis only curs who tell you in childhood they're defeated,
That tree is only growing but she will bloom tomorrow,
For you can't raise a nation without a little sorrow.
Then may each branch united dispel all jealousy,
Advance as one Australia—upon that magic tree.

An example of a type of patriotic song all-too-rare in these cynical times (although I'm not totally convinced by the thought that we should all band together and advance on a tree).

From Warren Fahey's inestimable Australian Folklore Unit site.  Published with the following note:

This song was sung at the Tivoli Music Hall about 1910 and the words are attributed to Walter P. Keen with music by that old trouper, Joe Salter. The tune has been suggested by Warren Fahey who unearthed the song in 1979. The gumtree now has eight branches with the addition of the Northern Territory and the ACT. A recorded version appears on the 2MBS-FM record Ryder Round Folk, Sydney.

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