Published on January 3, 2008
Australian Poetry: Australian Poetry The Noble Hero, the Savage Land and Mateship The Early Poets: The Early Poets In the early European settlement years, the poets tended to concentrate on the differences between Australia and their own homeland Expressing their thoughts and feelings in the same language and form as the English classical poets Describing rather than narrating E.g. James Cuthbertson(1851- 1910) “Australian Sunrise” James Cuthbertson The Australian Sunrise: James Cuthbertson The Australian Sunrise The Morning Star paled slowly, the Cross hung low to the sea, And down the shadowy reaches the tide came swirling free, The lustrous purple blackness of the soft Australian night, Waned in the gray awakening that heralded the light; Still in the dying darkness, still in the forest dim The pearly dew of the dawning clung to each giant limb, Till the sun came up from ocean, red with the cold sea mist, And smote on the limestone ridges, and the shining tree-tops kissed; Then the fiery Scorpion vanished, the magpie's note was heard, And the wind in the she-oak wavered, and the honeysuckles stirred, The airy golden vapour rose from the river breast, The kingfisher came darting out of his crannied nest, And the bulrushes and reed-beds put off their sallow gray And burnt with cloudy crimson at dawning of the day. James Lister Cuthbertson James Cuthbertson: James Cuthbertson Wattle and Myrtle Gold of the tangled wilderness of wattle, Break in the lone green hollows of the hills, Flame on the iron headlands of the ocean, Gleam on the margin of the hurrying rills. Come with thy saffron diadem and scatter Odours of Araby that haunt the air, Queen of our woodland, rival of the roses, Spring in the yellow tresses of thy hair. ( When we come to look at the poetry note the language differences between Cuthbertson and Paterson/Lawson even though they were contemporaries) The Colonial Poets: The Colonial Poets As time moved on, a number of the poets began to write narratives, story telling poems and ballads telling of the unique features of Australia. The descriptive and expressive language changed to reflect the simplicity of Australian life. Two of these poets, Banjo Paterson(1864-1941) and Henry Lawson( 1867-1922) saw Australia and its pioneers from different points of view Those points of view were shaped by their own upbringing, environment and temperaments and were expressed in their battles in the pages of “ The Bulletin” magazine The Discourses of The Noble Hero, Mateship and The Savage Land were discourses which they used to explore the relationships of the Land and its people Lawson’s Roaring Days as envisioned by Pro Hart: Lawson’s Roaring Days as envisioned by Pro Hart . Henry Lawson wrote of: The savage land The struggles of the working class The hardships of the city and bush The disappearing comrades The past glories and what might have been Mateship Lawson’s short stories: Lawson’s short stories Henry Lawson is also known for his short stories – the most famous being “The Loaded Dog” His short stories are snapshots of Australian life at the time, with the focus on the characters of the outback, outback life and bush humour. Within the stories is a sense of pathos and nostalgia for a simpler life. The stories delighted the readership of the time and are just as effective today in painting pictures of ‘turn of the century’ Australian life in the bush. Paterson wrote of the nobler side of life in the bush: Paterson wrote of the nobler side of life in the bush The noble hero The Larrikin The beauty of the bush The ugliness of the city Mateship at its finest The heroic idea of Australia at the turn Of the century City v. Bush: City v. Bush One common aspect in the work of both poets was their loathing for the city life - Paterson saw the bush life as predominantly noble – while Lawson was much more ambivalent – he struggled with the harshness of bush life and at times privileged the discourse of the savage land. Both men, however, spent the major part of their lives in the city. Poems such as Faces in the Street( Lawson) and Clancy of the Overflow ( Paterson) exemplify the division between bush and city life. Faces in the Street : Faces in the Street “ The human river dwindles when 'tis past the hour of eight, Its waves go flowing faster in the fear of being late; But slowly drag the moments, whilst beneath the dust and heat The city grinds the owners of the faces in the street Grinding body, grinding soul, Yielding scarce enough to eat Oh! I sorrow for the owners of the faces in the street.” Here Lawson is scathing of the effects of city life Clancy of the Overflow: Clancy of the Overflow So, too, is Paterson… “I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall, And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all And in place of lowing cattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle Of the tramways and the buses making hurry down the street, And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting, Comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet. “ Images of Henry Lawson: Images of Henry Lawson Rare first edition paid for by his mother, Louisa Death mask Hand of Lawson Lawson’s pen And manuscript Images of Banjo Paterson: Images of Banjo Paterson Manuscript for Walzing Matilda www.naa.gov.au/.../ treasures/treasures.html To check for personal details – remember biographical material can come from a huge variety of sources: To check for personal details – remember biographical material can come from a huge variety of sources The Reserve Bank http://www.rba.gov.au/CurrencyNotes/NotesInCirculation/bio_ab_banjo_paterson.html http://www.abc.net.au/btn/australians/lawson.htm www.nla.gov.au/.../ people/paterson.html It is acknowledged that some of the material in this presentation is taken from these websites The Bush: The Bush What is it about 'the bush' that is so special to Australians? For the best part of two centuries the bush has been analysed, criticised and romanticised. It has inspired poets, painters, filmmakers and television producers; preoccupied the nation's politicians; and fixated our social commentators. It has evoked both love and terror, and fascinated generations of Australians. There is no doubt that the bush has an iconic status in Australian life and has featured strongly in any debate about national identity. Indeed, it has been revered as a source of national ideals by the likes of Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson. The Bush: The Bush How real is the bush myth? Those who saw the bush as integral to Australian identity were very much urban-based. Lawson and Paterson were city dwellers, and so were the painters of the Heidelberg School - the likes of Tom Roberts and Fredrick McCubbin. They defined the Australian landscape from afar and imposed meaning on it. A homespun mythology Lawson believed that an Australian identity must emanate from its own soil, not from the safe green fields of the mother country, Britain. He was not alone in this view. Poets and novelists such as Banjo Paterson, Miles Franklin, EJ Brady and Barbara Baynton, among others, were inspired by the experiences of Australians living and working in the bush. Australian artists such as Tom Roberts, Charles Condor, Hans Heysen and Arthur Streeton began to paint Australian images and helped create the Australian bush legend. Lawson Discourses Paterson : Lawson Discourses Paterson The savage land The struggles of the working class The hardships of the city and bush The disappearing comrades The past glories and what might have been Mateship The noble hero The Larrikin The beauty of the bush The ugliness of the city Mateship at its finest The heroic idea of Australia at the turn Of the century THE TEAMS by Henry Lawson ( Identify the discourse): THE TEAMS by Henry Lawson ( Identify the discourse) A cloud of dust on the long white road, And the teams go creeping on Inch by inch with the weary load; And by the power of the greenhide goad The distant goal is won . With eyes half-shut to the blinding dust, And necks to the yokes bent low, The beasts are pulling as bullocks must; And the shining tires might almost rust While the spokes are turning slow. THE TEAMS by Henry Lawson ( Identify the discourse): THE TEAMS by Henry Lawson ( Identify the discourse) With face half-hid 'neath a broad-brimmed hat That shades from the heat's white waves, And shouldered whip with its greenhide plait, The driver plods with a gait like that Of his weary, patient slaves…….. And thus- with glimpses of home and rest- Are the long, long journeys done; And thus –’tis a thankless life at the best!- Is Distance fought in the mighty West And the lonely battle won . A bullock team: A bullock team Clancy of the Overflow – Paterson ( Identify the Discourse): Clancy of the Overflow – Paterson ( Identify the Discourse) In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy Gone a-droving "down the Cooper" where the Western drovers go; As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing, For the drover's life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know. And the bush hath friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars, And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended, And at night the wond'rous glory of the everlasting stars. The Drover: The Drover Perceptions of the poetry of Paterson and Lawson: Perceptions of the poetry of Paterson and Lawson Do you agree/ disagree with these comments? “trite” “doggerel” “nostalgic and sentimental” “magnificent images of life at the time” ‘presenting images of a growing awareness of bush “ “the poetry of tortured souls” “ clear cut in their discourses” “romanticised images” “bleak, exaggerated images “ Exercise: Exercise Select one of the Paterson or Lawson poems and: Identify the discourse(s) Identify the invited reading What are the techniques used to position the reader to accept both the discourse and the invited reading? What do you think the response of the readership of the time would have been to the poem? What does the poem reflect about the society for which was written? Exercise: Exercise What comments can you make about the language of Lawson and Paterson? How does their use of language differ from Cuthbertson’s use of language? Provide examples of effective language from each of the poets mentioned. Identify why those examples are effective!