Waltzing Matilda

LoneRider

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The song named in the title is one of my all time favorite songs. I first heard it as a boy in primary school. We learned folksongs from all around the world when I was in second grade. The song Waltzing Matilda would stay with me for life.

It's kinda weird though. I'm not Australian, but I find the song very stirring. It literally makes hairs on my neck and body stand on end when I hear it. It's very poignant and pulls on the heartstrings, especially when you hear the crowd at a Wallabies Rugby Match singing it.

Only three other songs have that effect on me. The Star Spangled Banner, I'm Proud to Be An American, as well as And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda.

Here's a link to a particularly stirring version of Waltzing Matilda. It's dedicated to the Australian soldiers serving in OIF alongside the British and American forces. Found it earlier today and thought I'd share it.

Any idea why this song is so poignant even if it's effectively about a criminal who stole a sheep and committed suicide rather than be caught?
 

Bill Mattocks

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Any idea why this song is so poignant even if it's effectively about a criminal who stole a sheep and committed suicide rather than be caught?

Sometimes I think a poem or song that reflects on the human condition, even when it touches the parts of us that are not often shown to others or even deeply examined by ourselves, but that we all know are there - these attract our attention.

I can tell you I've had a few songs affect me the same way. The first is "Danny Boy," which is odd, because I'm of Welsh extraction, not Irish. The second is Pachelbel's "Canon in D major." Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" does me in, "A Man's A Man For A' That" by Robert Burns, and finally, The Garryowen.

There are poems that hit me that way, too.

Randall Jarrell's "Death of the Ball Turrett Gunner" is one such. T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men" is another.

My father's favorite poem still hits me hard, maybe because he loved it so much:

A Bag of Tools - R. Lee Sharpe

Isn't it strange how princes and kings,
and clowns that caper in sawdust rings,
and common people, like you and me,
are builders for eternity?

Each is given a list of rules;
a shapeless mass; a bag of tools.
And each must fashion, ere life is flown,
A stumbling block, or a Stepping-Stone.
 
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LoneRider

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Another particularly poignant poem was the rendition of Minstral Boy in Black Hawk Down.

It's a very poignant song for anyone and tends to make me feel both ten feet tall and very humble in the same breath.

The minstrel boy to the war is gone, In the ranks of death you'll find him; His father's sword he hath girded on, And his wild harp slung behind him; "Land of Song!" cried the warrior bard, "Tho' all the world betrays thee, One sword, at least, thy right shall guard, One faithful harp shall praise thee!" The Minstrel fell! But the foeman's chain Could not bring that proud soul under; The harp he lov'd ne'er spoke again, For he tore its chords asunder; And said "No chains shall sully thee, Thou soul of love and brav'ry! Thy songs were made for the pure and free They shall never sound in slavery!"
 

mook jong man

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The song named in the title is one of my all time favorite songs. I first heard it as a boy in primary school. We learned folksongs from all around the world when I was in second grade. The song Waltzing Matilda would stay with me for life.

It's kinda weird though. I'm not Australian, but I find the song very stirring. It literally makes hairs on my neck and body stand on end when I hear it. It's very poignant and pulls on the heartstrings, especially when you hear the crowd at a Wallabies Rugby Match singing it.

Only three other songs have that effect on me. The Star Spangled Banner, I'm Proud to Be An American, as well as And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda.

Here's a link to a particularly stirring version of Waltzing Matilda. It's dedicated to the Australian soldiers serving in OIF alongside the British and American forces. Found it earlier today and thought I'd share it.

Any idea why this song is so poignant even if it's effectively about a criminal who stole a sheep and committed suicide rather than be caught?

I'm an Aussie and I think it is poignant to us because it goes back to our convict heritage and our anti-authoritarian streak. Most of the people that were sentenced to transportation were the very poor , mostly Irish , Scottish , and English .

They got sent here for something as trivial as stealing a loaf of bread because they were starving . Once they got here they were in a harsh alien land unlike anything they had ever known and had to contend with the heat , the flies , aborigines , deadly snakes , deadly spiders . They had to do back breaking work under the lash wielded by their English overlords.

We are rebellious in nature and have a love for the underdog , so the swagman represents the underdog to us against the oppressor.
Its the same as we revere the bushranger Ned Kelly , he was the son of an Irish convict .

Him and his brothers were on the run for apparently assaulting a policeman who came to their house and made a pass at their sister. Knowing that the law would never believe their version because of their prior activities involving cattle rustling and horse stealing they rode off to hide out in the bush.

To cut a long story short they shot three policeman who tried to capture them at stringy -bark creek. After this they committed a few bank robberies and then holed up at a place called Glenrowan.

It was there they made armor for themselves out of stolen and donated plough parts because they knew a big contingent of police were coming for them. When the police got there , Ned walked out into the street with his home made armor plated suit and hemet all of which is reputed to have weighed 44 kg / 96 pounds .

He started marching towards the police firing his gun at them , they fired back , but their bullets bounced off his metal armor. Eventually they cottoned on to the fact that his legs were not protected so they repeatedly shot him in the legs.

He kept on walking until the injuries were to great and he dropped. The rest of his gang committed suicide except one who died from a bullet wound . Ned survived and went to trial and was later hanged , when asked what his last words were before he was hanged , he said " Such is life ".

Its strange that the people we like were essentially criminals but thats just the way we are .
But Waltzing Matilda is a song that is ingrained into our national psyche and one you learn from an early age , about the time you start eating vegemite on toast.

That other song you mentioned " And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda " is another stirring song to Australians because it invokes memories of World war 1 when the ANZAC's charged up the beaches at Gallipoli into the machine gun fire of the Turks who were well dug in .

It was a disaster with many casualties and in Australia it is widely thought that the Aussie and Kiwi troops were led by incompetent British commanders . But even though it was a slaughter there were still many tales of bravery and mateship amongst the ANZAC troops.

It was probably the place where the Australian concept of mateship was forged ie an Aussie will always help out a mate. It is very timely that you mention that song because tomorrow is Anzac day where Australian and New Zealand commemorate the Anzacs and give thanks to their bravery and the sacrifices they made on our behalf.

There is another song called " I was only 19 " by an Australian band called Redgum that you might like about an Aussie diggers experiences in the Vietnam war.

Enjoy.
 
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LoneRider

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Happy ANZAC day my friend. And thank you. You guys standing by us in OEF and OIF is much appreciated by me and a vast majority of my fellow soldiers.
 

mook jong man

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Happy ANZAC day my friend. And thank you. You guys standing by us in OEF and OIF is much appreciated by me and a vast majority of my fellow soldiers.

No worries mate , and keep up the good work you and the rest of the soldiers there are doing a great job .
A tough and dangerous job and one that not many of us would have the balls to do.
 
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LoneRider

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No worries mate , and keep up the good work you and the rest of the soldiers there are doing a great job .
A tough and dangerous job and one that not many of us would have the balls to do.

My thanks. Most of my work isn't too arduous because I work on the base as support personnel. I go out of the wire occasionally, but not often.

Anyhoo, I found Waltzing Matilda poignant since boyhood and actually found out that a US Formation, the 1st Marine Division of the United States Marine Corps has the song as their official quick march.
 
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