Paterson Also Wrote a "Road to Gundagai"
8 February 1941 The Mail (Adelaide)
There is another 'Road To Gundagai' besides the song written by Jack O'Hagan and later revived in popularity by 'Dad and Dave.'
For A. B. ('Banjo') Paterson, who died this week, aged 77, wrote a charming poem with that name.
It tells of an imaginary adventure of this typically Australian poet. It begins:-
The mountain road goes up and down.
From Gundagai to Tumut Town.
And branching off there runs a track,
Across the foothills grim and black,
Across the plains and ranges grey
To Sydney City far away.
It came by chance one day that I
From Tumut rode to Gundagai.
At the crossing where the roads divide.' the poet met a 'maiden fair of the face ' She was enchanting, but she was not for him.
Her lover waited for her. And so the poem ends:-
"I turned and travelled with a sigh
The lonely road to Gundagai."
Paterson, who wrote so simply and so feelingly about the Australian out-back is, no doubt, best known for his poem, 'The Man From Snowy River.'
But perhaps his best verse was in 'Clancy of the Overflow.' Here is the verse:-
And the bush hath friends to meet him,
and their kindly voices greet him
In the murmur of the breezes
and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid
of the sunlit plains extended,
And at night the wondrous glory
of the everlasting stars.
Paterson successfully caught up the tradition of Gordon - that is, of Gordon the bushman and lover of horses, of Gordon without his despair.
With much less than the poetic power of his master, he won a far wider circle of appreciative readers.
Paterson's work, whatever its short-comings, possesses a greater significance for life as we know it than ever Gordon's did.
Paterson had humor and common sense, too.
In an age where modernism is struggling with nationalism in poetry, he remains, in some ways, an object lesson to our ballad writers.