Tag Archive for poetry

Banjo Paterson & Mulga Bill’s Bicycle

Light the candles, break out the tinnies. Today is Banjo Paterson’s birthday – born on this date in 1864, at ‘Narrambla’, near Orange, in rural New South Wales. For those of you who are not Australian, or haven’t had the pleasure of living down there, and don’t immediately recognise the name, Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Paterson is Australia’s national poet, the man who gave the world Waltzing Matilda, and a rich swag of iconic Australian ballads such as The Man from Snowy River and Clancy of the Overflow, and, for those of us of the cycling persuasion, Mulga Bill’s Bicycle.

Windy Nights

One of my favourite poems when I was a child was Windy Nights by Robert Louis Stevenson, who is better known for being the author of Treasure Island. In the poem, a little boy – probably Stevenson himself as a child – is laying snug in his bed, when he is awakened late on a wild and stormy night by the galloping hooves of a mysterious rider who passes beneath his window bound on some urgent mission or other – a spy, a smuggler, a soldier-of-fortune, we don’t know for sure, but we can imagine him: a dark figure on horseback in dripping oilskins and tri-corner hat, his flintlock pistols kept dry and at the ready beneath his cloak. I loved to imagine myself as that mysterious rider, abroad on a wild and windy night, on urgent business of my own.

To A Cyclist

O would some power the gift to give us; to see ourselves as others see us; It would from many a blunder free us… So goes an oft-quoted stanza from a Robert Burns poem – addressed to a louse, in point of fact, one that he saw crawling on a fine lady’s bonnet in church…