Waltzing Matilda

 

We've all heard the song sung at the local pub, but how much do you know about it.   It's such a jolly good
ditty, we couldn't help but give it special mention here.

First we'll examine the lyrics and explain some of the not-so-common words.

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong,
under the shade of a Coolibah tree;
And he sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled,
"Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me?".

Chorus:
Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda,
who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me;
And he sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled,
"Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me?".

Along came a jumbuck to drink at the billabong,
up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee;
And he sang as he stowed that jumbuck in his tucker bag,
"You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me?".

Chorus

Up rode the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred,
Down came the troopers, one two three;
"Whose is that jumbuck you've got in your tucker bag?",
"You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me.".

Chorus

Up jumped the swagman and lept into the billabong,
"You'll never catch me alive.", said he;
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by the billabong,
"Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me?".

Chorus

By: Andrew Barton Patterson (1864-1941)

Swagman: A hobo or drifter who travels looking for work and carries his belongings in cloth type sack, sometimes tied to the end of a stick or pole.

Billabong: A small pond.

Coolibah Tree: Another term for Eucalyptus tree.

Billy: A small metal (usually tin) pot with a wire loop handle from one side to another. Used to boil liquids over an open flame.

Jumbuck: Another term for a sheep.

Tucker Bag: A bag used to store food.

Squatter: A rich or wealthy land owner.

Trooper: A mounted constable or peace officer.

 

 

What does "Waltzing Matilda" mean?

While the exact origins to the phrase is not clear, it is generally accepted that it
originated with Germans who immigrated to Australia.

The word "waltzing" comes from
from the German Auf Der Walz which means to learn a job skill or trade while
moving from place to place, eating and sleeping where ever available.

The word "matilda" comes from the Teutonic word meaning Battle Maiden.
The word was used to describe the wives and female companions that
accompanied soldiers during the wars throughout Europe.  The word
evolved through slang to mean being kept warm at night. [J]  The passage
of time changed the meaning again to referring to the blankets that soldiers
used to cover up with at night.  This blanket was carried in a swag
as the soldier traveled.

Put it all together and the phrase "Waltzing Matilda" means to travel for work while
maintaining your belongs in a bag or sack.   Basically the definition of what a
hobo or swagman does with his life.

 

Alternate lyrics:

The passage of time has the ability to change many things, including the details of
yarns spun by grandparents to their grandchildren and also songs like Waltzing Matilda. There
are several different versions where there are minor changes in some words, but the lyrics above
are by far the most common heard.   There is another version that is known by many that is
referred to as Waltzing Matilda Queensland.  The lyrics to this version are:

Oh, there once was a swagman camped by the billabong,
under the shade of a Coolibah tree;
And he sang as he looked at the old billy boiling,
Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me?

Chorus:
Who'll come a waltzing Matilda my darling,
Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me;
Waltzing Matilda and leading a water bag,
Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me.

Down came a jumbuck to drink at the water hole,
up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee;
And he sang as he put him away in his tucker bag,
You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me.

Chorus

Up came the squatter a riding his thoroughbred,
Up came the constables, one two three;
Who's is that jumbuck you've got in your tucker bag,
You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me.

Chorus

The swagman up and jumped in the water hole,
drowning himself by the Coolibah tree;
And his ghost may be heard, as it sings by the billabong,
Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me.

Chorus

 

Downloads.

Looking to download a MP3 or Midi of the song?   So are we.  We've yet to find a
good rendition to put on-line.   If you find one, please let us know by sending
an email to    Jokes@ALAD.net