Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Waltzing Matilda

Lucia came into the bedroom early this morning, dragging the tray from her old high-chair. We had brought up the high-chair because of a recent visit from a baby (with the baby’s parents, of course) and hadn’t yet gotten around to bringing it back to the basement. I thought Lucia was trying to make an emphatic point that she was hungry, but no, she wanted us to sing “Waltzing Matilda” to her. I didn’t know many of the words, but I did have a copy of Rise Up Singing by my bed, so I looked up the words and sang it to her. I was groggy and hoarse, but Lucia was satisfied with my rendition. As she left the bedroom, still carrying the high-chair tray, it occurred to me that much of my life has a surreal quality about it that I just take for granted.

Anyway...

Here are the first verses of "Waltzing Matilda."

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong,
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled
"Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me?"

"Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me?"
And he sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled,
"Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me?"

Along came a jumbuck to drink at the billabong,
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee,
And he sang as he stowed that jumbuck in his tucker bag,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me!"

"Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
Who'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me?"
And he sang as he stowed that jumbuck in his tucker bag,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me!"



Back of the centennial coin commemorating the song.


I was going to look up all the words that are potentially unfamiliar to people outside of Australia (I'm one of them, as I thought the song was evocative of Edward Lear's poetry). However, Wikipedia has already done the job. Go ahead, follow the link. How can you go another day without satisfying your curiosity about billabongs and swagmen? You can hear a snippet of Dan Zanes' version here.



This is not Waltzing Matilda.

6 comments:

Fridaysweb said...

Is that a Dalton figurine? She's quite lovely. So is Watzing Matilda :)

galetea said...

I remember finding something a while back that intimated that Waltzing Matilda was a song about a sheep thief, but it might have been Terry Pratchett, so take that with a pinch of salt!

Nonny said...

Everyone should wake up singing everyday! Imagine what a happier place the world would be.

I wish my life was more surreal. That would be awesome.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Friday: I'm abashed to say that I don't know! I purloined the image from the internet.

Galetea: Both you and Terry Pratchett are correct: it is a song about a sheep thief. Since the punishment for stealing a sheep was death, it's no wonder the swagman jumped into the billabong.

Nonny: When I sent this post to my father, he pointed out that I was training Lucia to wake me up with demands for singing. Oh dear! I did like it so much better when she would wake up singing.

By the way, "Buffy" just arrived at the library. I'm looking forward to being reintroduced to it.

cloudscome said...

Um, so the high chair tray? We aren't going to try to find the connection? Or is that the charm of a surreal life....? Maybe I am just to dang literal...

I do love the song, particularly when I don't remember the translation.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Cloudscome: I still have not figured out the high chair tray connection, myself. My original theory was that Lucia wanted breakfast, but I'm not so sure, now. Often, she'll have an object in her hand when she's singing. It's a security thing, I think.