Australian Folk Songs

songs | books | records | articles | glossary | links | search | responses | home

The Death of Ned Kelly

Ned Kelly fought the rich men in country and in town,
Ned Kelly fought the troopers until they ran him down;
He thought that he had fooled them, for he was hard to find,
But he rode into Glenrowan with the troopers close behind.

"Come out of that, Ned Kelly," the head zarucker calls,
"Come out and leave your shelter, or we'll shoot it full of holes."
"If you'd take me," says Kelly, "that's not the speech to use;
I've lived to spite your order, I'll die the way I choose!"

"Come out of that, Ned Kelly, you done a lawless thing;
You robbed and fought the squatters, Ned Kelly, you must swing."
"If those who rob," says Kelly, "are all condemned to die,
You had better hang the squatters, for they've stolen more than I."

"You'd best come out, Ned Kelly, you done the government wrong,
For you held up the coaches that bring the gold along."
"Go tell your boss," says Kelly, "who lets the rich go free,
That your bloody rich man's government will never govern me."

They burned the roof above him, they fired the wails about,
And head to foot in armour, Ned Kelly stumbled out;
Although his guns were empty he made them turn and flee,
But one came in behind him and shot him in the; knee.

And so they took Ned Kelly and hanged him in the jail,
For he fought singlehanded although in iron mail.
And no man singlehanded can hope to break the bars;
It's a thousand like Ned Kelly who will hoist the flag of stars.


Written by poet and folklorist John Manifold. In the folk revival this song was often published as a traditional song. Bill Berry tells me Manifold wrote this song when he was 14.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory