Tuesday, April 15, 2014

His Matilda Translated

M is for Matilda. In Australia this is more than the name of a little girl Roald Dahl created who had magical powers.

 
Waltzing Matilda is one of Australia's most well known songs. It was written by Banjo Patterson (one of Australia's most famous poets) in 1895 and has been popular ever since. It almost became our national anthem in 1977, but was beaten by "Advance Australia Fair" which is the current National Anthem of Australia. All Aussie children are taught this song at a young age and it is easily one of the most recognized songs in the country. It is played at different events including many major sporting events and would be the Australian equivalent to songs like "America the Beautiful" and "God Bless America". Since the song is written in poetry form and has a lot of Australian slang, it is hard for foreigners to understand what different things the song is referring to. Below is the song as written in black text, and my translation in red text. At the bottom is a video of Slim Dusty (one of Australia's best known country singers) singing the song.

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Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong,
Once a happy migrant worker camped by a pond,
Under the shade of a Coolibah tree,

And camped under the shade of a Coolibah tree (which is a type of eucalyptus tree).
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled,

He was boiling water to make some hot tea and started singing,
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.

And started dancing the Waltz using his backpack as his dancing partner.

Source
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda,
Dance with your backpack, dance with your backpack,
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me, 

My backpack, you will waltz with me,
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled, 
And he sang as he watched and waited for his camp kettle to boil.
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.
My backpack, you will waltz with me.

....................

Down came a jumbuck to drink at that billabong,

A sheep came down to the pond to drink,
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee,

The man was hungry so he grabbed the sheep and killed it for food.
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag,

He sang happily as he put the tasty sheep into his food bag.
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.

My backpack, you will waltz with me.


Source
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda,
Dance with your backpack, dance with your backpack,
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me, 

My backpack, you will waltz with me,
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag,
He sang happily as he put the tasty sheep into his food bag.
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.
My backpack, you will waltz with me.

.....................

Up rode the squatter mounted on his thorough-bred

The land owner came to the pond on his horse to see who was trespassing.
Down came the troopers One Two Three

There were 3 police officers who accompanied the squatter to the pond.
Whose that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker bag?

They asked the swagman who owned the sheep that he had put in the bag.
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.

My backpack, you will waltz with me.

Source
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda,
Dance with your backpack, dance with your backpack,
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me, 

My backpack, you will waltz with me,
Whose that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker-bag?
Who owns the sheep that you shoved in your food bag?
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.
My backpack, you will waltz with me.

 ......................

Up jumped the swagman sprang in to the billabong

The man stood up and jumped into the pond to escape capture,
"You'll never catch me alive" said he,

He had no intention of getting caught and taken to jail so he chose to drown in the pond instead.
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong,

And people now hear his ghost singing when they get close to the pond,
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.
My backpack, you will waltz with me.

Source
Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda,
Dance with your backpack, dance with your backpack,
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me, 

My backpack, you will waltz with me,
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong,You can now hear his ghost singing when you pass by the pond,
You'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me.
My backpack, you will waltz with me.




Do you like the song more or less now that you know what the lyrics mean?

7 comments:

  1. I know very little about Australia except this song. My kids and I fell in love with it when they were young, and we were so intrigued by the words that we researched the whole thing. It has been a family favorite for years now. It's so much fun to see it here. Thanks for sharing! Returning your visit from the A-Z challenge.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm your newest follower, by the way.

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  3. Following from Blogging AtoZ.
    I'm writing "Things My Husband Has Broken" A to Z at http://AMomsPointOfView.com
    Come by and check it out.

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  4. I'm pretty stunned. I've heard the refrain, but never the whole song. It's rather horrible it's about a suicide, and a suicide not even for unrequited love or something ethical, but a suicide so as not to get taken in by the police. But perhaps landowners and police were awful (and corrupt) back then. I'll never forget this song now.

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  5. It has a catchy tune to it; I've heard it before but never understood it, so thanks for the explanation of it.

    betty

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  6. Reading this wonderful post made me so nostalgic! My fiance and I are Australians living and road tripping through America and its nearly time for us to go home! Your explanations of Waltzing Matilda are perfect :) thanks to Amanda for visiting me on my blog, because now I have found yours! Carly

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  7. I've heard of the song before, but never actually knew the lyrics. Thanks so much for the translation, it was needed.

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