|The Australasian Saturday 16 February 1889 p. 33.|
Will any future Scott or Percy make it his task to collect the "bush" ballads of Australia, and are there any for him to collect?
It is not at all certain that a diligent and energetic collector might not cull from the old race of shepherds and hut-keepers, before they become entirely extinct, the materials for an interesting volume. He will have to be careful, however, not to fall into the amusing error of a recent correspondent of the Spectator, who reproduced a garbled version of the well-known ballad, "Jeannette and Jeannot" as a local song of Sussex. There ought to be a sufficiency of original matter.
Old bushmen can recall many old bush rhymes, and the almost forgotten bards who sang them. The name of " Frank the Poet" lingers in my own recollection as the author of a number of popular bush ballads, including his celebrated "Trip to Hell;" though the only rhyme of his that I can remember is his
" CONVICT'S GRACE.
" Redman, Redman, what brought you here ?
You've carted wood from many a tier.
And now, worn out by sore abuse,
You're salted down for convicts' use."
The above reflections were induced by receiving from a correspondent a number of rhymes by a bush poet, giving good advice to both squatters and swagsmen. I can only quote a few lines. The following is apparently addressed to some hard-hearted pastoralist:—
" What is a man, that he should say,
' Take up your swag and go away.
And do not come at any hour
For tea and sugar, meat and flour?' "
This goes on the other tack, to show the fair-mindedness of the poet:—
" When in the township, swagsmen, do you think
What money there you throw away on drink?
And when the money's done you have no more to pay,
You on the squatters call, and ask for flour and tay."