THE ISOLATION OF COMMUNITIES – 2


AUSTRALIA AND ITS TRADITIONAL MUSIC – a brief overview

 

THE ISOLATION OF COMMUNITIES – 2

© Warren Fahey

Dying sailors, harlots, cowboys, sleeper-cutters and airmen are commonly found in British and American folksong traditions. This is one of a number of Australian variants of this widespread and popular theme. In a 1930s depression variation a ‘strapping young bagman’ (swagman) lay dying’ and asked his mates to:

Wrap me up in my old police blanket,
And bury me deep down below,
Where the coppers and the squatters can’t worry me,
In the shade where the old rattler (train) blows.

THE DYING STOCKMAN
A strapping young stockman lay dying,
His saddle supporting his head;
His two mates around him were crying,
As he rose on his pillow and said:

CHORUS
“Wrap me up with my stockwhip and blanket,
And bury me deep down below,
Where the dingoes and crows can’t molest me,
In the shade where the coolibahs grow.

“Oh! had I the flight of the bronzewing,
Far o’er the plains would I fly,
Straight to the land of my childhood,
And there would I lay down and die. Chorus: Wrap me up, etc.

“Then cut down a couple of saplings,
Place one at my head and my toe,
Carve on them cross, stockwhip, and saddle,
To show there’s a stockman below.
Chorus: Wrap me up, etc.

“Hark! there’s the wail of a dingo,
Watchful and weird — I must go,
For it tolls the death-knell of the stockman
From the gloom of the scrub down below.
Chorus: Wrap me up, etc.

“There’s tea in the battered old billy;
Place the pannikins out in a row,
And we’ll drink to the next merry meeting,
In the place where all good fellows go.
Chorus: Wrap me up, etc.

“And oft in the shades of the twilight,
When the soft winds are whispering low, And the darkening· shadows are falling,
Sometimes think of the stockman below.”
Chorus: Wrap me up, etc.

From Old Bush Songs. The lyrics of this song (to the tune of ‘The Old Stable Jacket’) are by Horace Flower, published in the Portland Mirror, July 8, 1885.