Australian Folk Songs

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The Swaggy's Lament (1896)

I have carried the swag so long, sir!
Yes, over a year, till I'm sore;
I tramped this country up and down,
Over mountain, river and moor.

I have a dear wife and family,
Who all on me depend,
And that is why I fight so hard,
While waiting for things to mend.

It is not the fault of the country,
That things are so bad to-day,
'Tis the fault of the idle voters,
The young Australians gay.

They care not for their country,
For politics are dry,
And yet compared with football,
Is as a laugh is to a cry.

The capitalist stands above them,
Takes the position at a glance,
And knows while football moves the boys,
He always has a chance.

Of course he goes to matches,
It is at their own desire,
And as he pats them on the back,
Says "kick a little higher."

They take the flattery kindly,
And are blinded by their faith,
While he steals from them their liberty,
And robs them of their state.

Sport, when used with due discretion,
Makes the mind and body grow,
But politics can't be forgotten,
As these times do plainly show.

There is a game played in parliament,
The football of the state,
And as this game is carried on,
So thus proceeds our fate.

On it depends our happiness,
So let us watch the ball,
And try by all that's human,
To shove poverty to the wall.

Such thoughts now pass before me,
As I sit by the old gum tree,
Thinking of love, home and duty,
And all depending on me.

However, I must be going, sir,
For I make the downs to-night;
Being out of work is a terrible thing,
But I must continue the fight.


From the Footscray newspaper the Independent Saturday 20 June 1896 p. 2.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory