Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tailing A Kangaroo


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Bill Swiggen and myself were bushed up in the mallee scrub,
For two long days and two ling nights we had not tasted grub,
And on the third, my blessed word, affairs looked rather blue,
When Bill descried, with joyful pride, an old man kangaroo.

This old man quite majestically sat upright on his tail,
He looked at us contemptuously, nor did he shake nor quail,
He seemed to say, 'To come this way, what business fried had you?'
'By Jove!” cried Bill, “I'd like to kill, that old man kangaroo.'

Without another word he rushed with waddy in his hand,
To where the old man kangaroo undauntedly did stand,
He aimed a blow but this hairy foe upon poor William flew,
And grabbed my mate, as sure as fate, this old man kangaroo.

He clasped him tightly in his arms and Bill began to roar,
A struggle so terrific, I had ne'er beheld before,
“Oh Tom, why blow my eyes, you know he'll break my back in two,
Come hither quick and fetch a stick, oh cuss the kangaroo.

At my approach the kangaroo made ready for a bolt,
But still he clung to William tight, he would not loose his holt,
But Bill you see, was twelve stone three, flesh, bones and muscle too,
That's overweight, the truth I state, for any kangaroo.

Them stealing up behind the brute, my bag I opened wide,
And pulling it down over his ears, I then securely tied,
It 'round his neck, this seemed to check his progress so I drew,
My dover out and with a shout, I tailed that old man kangaroo.

A kangaroo without a tail can't run we all well know,
So finding his appendage gone, he let poor Willie go,
He gave a shout, a gory tail I tell you but it's true,
Then with a jump he sunk, a lump of lifeless kangaroo.

My mate was slightly bruised about but scarcely he was freed,
\When turning round to me he says, “By George, we'll have a feed.”
Then Billy got the billy pot and cooked a splendid stew,
The sweetest meal I ever ate was that old man kangaroo.


I've used the words from Warren Fahey's collection of this song from the Australian Journal - July 1871, where it was attributed to Tom Tallfern.

I first came across this one in Singabout, Volume 4, Number 2 (1961) where it was published with the following note:

Sung by Simon McDonald, of Creswick, Victoria and collected by N.O'Connor and H. Pearce of the Folk Lore Society of Victoria in 1957.


I've used the tune from Singabout.


The illustration to this post is from an 1860 issue of the Illustrated London News entitled, Death of a Red Forester, An Old Man Kangaroo.






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