Banjo Patterson Poems: An Overview by Jack Thompson

Published: 10th October 2011
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I first heard the poems of Banjo Paterson as a schoolboy. In the 1940ís, along with Dorothea McKellarís I Love A Sunburnt Country and Henry Lawsonís The Ballad Of The Drover, they were considered to be an important part of our education as young Australians.

What I remember most is the mood that they conjured up: an optimistic world of humour and bravery, an irrepressible pioneering spirit. Hearing the poems gave me a sense of lifeís adventure and made me feel that I understood, just for a moment, what being grown-up could be like. Iíve had a soft spot for Banjo Paterson ever since and feel a kind of kinship with him. He brought a deeper understanding to the world in which I lived, the world where I would become an adult.

In the previous generation, in the world before radio or television, it was the bush ballads read or recited around campfires or in living rooms, which allowed people to share the common adventure of growing up in the country. The wild yarns and tall tales of the young Commonwealth were part of our growing-up.

In this day and age, I feel that poetry is often an underappreciated art form in Australia. These days it is sometimes seen as too "arty" and perhaps not a suitable interest for real "blokes". It has been my good fortune to be brought up by a poet. My father John Thompson, was a journalist and war correspondent like Banjo Paterson before him and there is no doubt that they were indeed real "blokes". Iím sure that Banjoís poetry and John Thompsonís poetry have allowed me to appreciate the poetry of life itself. The love of Australian verse has afforded me so much pleasure.

John Thompson was a feature writer for A.B.C Radio and he initiated and produced a program called "The Poetís Tongue", on which Australian poets had their work read by actors. It was my delight to hear these programs broadcast. That early exposure to poems read out loud, Iím sure fostered an appreciation for their sound: an appreciation deeper than it might have been had they simply been words on a page

Read more and buy CD's of Jack Thomspon poetry readings at Fine Poets

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