The Art of Australian Poetry – National Literacy Day


UNESCO International Literacy Day

Tuesday, September 8th is UNESCO International Literacy Day!

On International Literacy Day each year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally.

September 8 was proclaimed International Literacy Day by UNESCO on November 17, 1965. It was first celebrated in 1966. Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. On International Literacy Day each year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally. Celebrations take place around the world.

Some 774 million adults lack minimum literacy skills; one in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women; 72.1 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out.

In honor of Literacy Day, I’d like to introduce one of my favorite poets, whom I recently discovered through my Australian friend.  Woohoo, that’s a big one, poetry and Australian lit in one go!  The man I’m talking about is Banjo Paterson, a man who lived through some turbulent times (1864-1941) and used words to express his love for his country and the amazing people and natural landscapes that make it unique.  Born in the bush, riding horses and working his uncle’s farm as a kid, he had many jobs including war journalist, soldier, jockey, lawyer and of course husband and father.  He’s the man who who wrote the poem “Waltzing Matilda” which was eventually set to music and became one of the most quintessentially Australian songs ever.  Here’s the Dubliners version, it made me run for the tissue box the first time I heard it:

The other poem he’s most famous for is “The Man From Snowy River:”

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses – he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
And the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight…

The poem is actually really long, so you can find the full version here.  “The Man from Snowy River” actually became movie in the 80′s.  If you’ve never seen any Australian films (aka anything by director Baz Luhrmann) I’d really suggest hunting this one down, it’s a classic and absolutely beautiful.  The first 5 minutes of the movie is this poem.  I like listening to it even better then reading it…

I’d really suggest reading more of his poetry, but you might need a dictionary of Australian slang to understand it!

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. MadSilence to&w
    Sep 10, 2009 @ 06:27:43

    Very interesting, I know little of Australian poetry, although the theme to Waltzing Matilda is very familiar.

    What is the poem about? It speaks of war & the Turks…Crimean War?


  2. Lauren
    Oct 14, 2009 @ 22:04:01

    Um… actually the poem you linked to is not Banjo’s ‘Waltzing Matilda’ ^_^;;;

    It’s a song called ‘And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda’, written in the 1970s about the WWI Gallipoli campaign.

    ‘Waltzing Matilda’ itself you’ll find here (


  3. eliza
    Sep 07, 2012 @ 12:25:57

    wats the poem about??????????


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