'A Bush Christening' by Andrew Barton 'Banjo' Paterson

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On the outer Barcoo where the churches are few,
And men of religion are scanty,
On a road never cross'd 'cept by folk that are lost,
One Michael Magee had a shanty.

Now this Mike was the dad of a ten year old lad,
Plump, healthy, and stoutly conditioned;
He was strong as the best, but poor Mike had no rest
For the youngster had never been christened.

And his wife used to cry, "If the darlin' should die
Saint Peter would not recognise him."
But by luck he survived till a preacher arrived,
Who agreed straightaway to baptise him.

Now the artful young rogue, while they held their collogue,
With his ear to the keyhole was listenin',
And he muttered in fright, while his features turned white,
"What the divil and all is this christenin'?"

He was none of your dolts, he had seen them brand colts,
And it seemed to his small understanding,
If the man in the frock made him one of the flock,
It must mean something very like branding.

So away with a rush he set off for the bush,
While the tears in his eyelids they glistened—
"'Tis outrageous," says he, "to brand youngsters like me,
I'll be dashed if I'll stop to be christened!"

Like a young native dog he ran into a log,
And his father with language uncivil,
Never heeding the "praste" cried aloud in his haste,
"Come out and be christened, you divil!"

But he lay there as snug as a bug in a rug,
And his parents in vain might reprove him,
Till his reverence spoke (he was fond of a joke)
"I've a notion," says he, "that'll move him."

"Poke a stick up the log, give the spalpeen a prog;
Poke him aisy—don't hurt him or maim him,
'Tis not long that he'll stand, I've the water at hand,
As he rushes out this end I'll name him.

"Here he comes, and for shame! ye've forgotten the name—
Is it Patsy or Michael or Dinnis?"
Here the youngster ran out, and the priest gave a shout—
"Take your chance, anyhow, wid 'Maginnis'!"

As the howling young cub ran away to the scrub
Where he knew that pursuit would be risky,
The priest, as he fled, flung a flask at his head
That was labelled "Maginnis's Whisky"!

And Maginnis Magee has been made a J.P.,
And the one thing he hates more than sin is
To be asked by the folk, who have heard of the joke,
How he came to be christened Maginnis!

Submitted by Maddy

Editor 1 Interpretation

A Bush Christening: A Literary Masterpiece

Andrew Barton "Banjo" Paterson is a name that commands respect in the world of Australian literature. A man whose works have stood the test of time, Paterson's poetry has captured the essence of Australian life and culture like few others. One of his most famous poems, "A Bush Christening," is a masterpiece that stands out not just for its linguistic and poetic brilliance, but also for its vivid portrayal of the wild and rugged Australian bush.

The Poem: A Brief Overview

"A Bush Christening" is a 30-line poem that was first published in The Bulletin in 1893. The poem tells the story of a christening that takes place in the Australian bush, far away from civilization. The narrator describes the scene in vivid detail, capturing the beauty and brutality of the Australian landscape, as well as the rough and ready nature of the people who inhabit it.

The Poem: A Literary Analysis

At first glance, "A Bush Christening" might seem like a simple narrative poem, recounting a story in a straightforward manner. However, a closer analysis reveals that the poem is much more than that. It is a literary masterpiece that uses various literary devices to convey its message and create a vivid and unforgettable image of life in the Australian bush.

The Setting: The Australian Bush

One of the most striking aspects of "A Bush Christening" is its vivid portrayal of the Australian bush. Paterson uses vivid imagery and sensory details to bring the landscape to life, painting a picture of a wild and rugged land that is both beautiful and brutal. The bush is described as "the sun-dried spinifex plains" and "the scrubs where the high gum-trees grow," both of which evoke an image of a tough and unforgiving environment.

The Characters: Rough and Ready Australians

The characters in "A Bush Christening" are quintessentially Australian. They are rough and ready, with a down-to-earth attitude that is typical of people who live in the bush. They are unpretentious and practical, with a deep respect for tradition and a willingness to make do with what they have. The narrator describes them as "rough and brown," with "faces like Christmas beef."

The Narrative: Simple Yet Poetic

The narrative structure of "A Bush Christening" is simple and straightforward. It is a story that is told in a linear fashion, with a clear beginning, middle, and end. However, it is the poetic language and the use of literary devices that elevates the narrative and makes it a true work of art.

The Language: Poetic and Evocative

One of the most remarkable aspects of "A Bush Christening" is its use of language. The poem is written in a style that is both poetic and evocative, with a rhythm and flow that is reminiscent of the Australian bush. Paterson uses a range of literary devices, including alliteration, repetition, and imagery, to create a sense of the landscape and its inhabitants.

The Theme: Tradition and Community

At its core, "A Bush Christening" is a poem about tradition and community. It celebrates the importance of family and community ties, and the role they play in shaping the lives of people who inhabit the bush. The christening is a symbol of the continuation of tradition, and the narrator's description of the "swagman" who "stood beside the boss" highlights the sense of community that exists in the bush.

Conclusion: A Literary Masterpiece

In conclusion, "A Bush Christening" is a literary masterpiece that captures the essence of Australian life and culture. Through its vivid portrayal of the Australian bush, its rough and ready characters, and its poetic language and use of literary devices, Paterson creates a work of art that is both beautiful and profound. It remains a timeless piece of Australian literature that continues to inspire and captivate readers around the world.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

A Bush Christening: A Classic Poem by Banjo Paterson

If you are a fan of Australian literature, then you must have heard of Banjo Paterson, the famous poet and author who wrote some of the most iconic works of Australian literature. One of his most famous poems is "A Bush Christening," which is a humorous and satirical take on the traditional Christian baptism ceremony. In this article, we will analyze and explain this classic poem in detail.

The poem was first published in 1893 in The Bulletin, a popular Australian magazine of the time. It is written in Paterson's signature bush ballad style, which is characterized by its use of colloquial language, vivid imagery, and a strong sense of humor. The poem tells the story of a bush baptism ceremony, which is being conducted by a traveling preacher in the Australian outback.

The poem begins with the preacher arriving at a remote bush settlement, where he is greeted by a group of rough and ready bushmen. The preacher announces that he is there to conduct a baptism ceremony, and the bushmen are eager to participate. However, the preacher soon realizes that he has forgotten to bring the necessary items for the ceremony, such as a font and holy water. Undeterred, the bushmen suggest that they use a nearby billabong (a small body of water) as a substitute for the font, and they use a billycan (a metal container) to collect the water.

The poem then takes a satirical turn, as the preacher begins to baptize the bushmen with humorous and irreverent names. For example, he baptizes one man as "Salvation Yeo," another as "Sinful Smith," and a third as "Baptist Bill." The bushmen find this hilarious and join in the fun, baptizing each other with even more ridiculous names. The poem ends with the preacher declaring that the bushmen are now "true-blue Christians," and the group celebrating with a hearty round of drinks.

The poem is a satirical take on the traditional Christian baptism ceremony, which is a solemn and serious event. Paterson uses humor and irreverence to poke fun at the ceremony and the religious beliefs that underpin it. The use of colloquial language and Australian slang also adds to the humor of the poem, making it accessible and relatable to a wide audience.

However, the poem is not just a simple joke. It also has deeper themes and messages that are relevant to Australian culture and society. One of these themes is the idea of mateship, which is a core value in Australian culture. The bushmen in the poem are depicted as a close-knit group who are willing to help each other out in times of need. They work together to create a makeshift baptism ceremony, and they celebrate their newfound Christianity with a round of drinks. This sense of camaraderie and community is a reflection of the importance of mateship in Australian culture.

Another theme in the poem is the idea of Australian identity. The bushmen in the poem are depicted as quintessentially Australian, with their rough and ready demeanor, their use of Australian slang, and their love of a good drink. The poem celebrates this unique Australian identity, which is rooted in the country's history and landscape.

In conclusion, "A Bush Christening" is a classic poem by Banjo Paterson that uses humor and satire to poke fun at the traditional Christian baptism ceremony. However, it also has deeper themes and messages that are relevant to Australian culture and society. The poem celebrates the importance of mateship and Australian identity, while also highlighting the irreverent and humorous side of Australian culture. It is a timeless work of Australian literature that continues to be enjoyed by readers around the world.

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