Waltzing Matilda

‘Waltzing Matilda’ is a famous Australian song many of you probably learnt a long time ago. Maybe it was one of the first songs you learnt to sing in English? When we were children and learnt songs in foreign languages, we did not always know what the words we sang meant. But – is this still the case? Solve the following tasks and you will crack the code of ‘Waltzing Matilda’.

Exercise

a) Find the meaning of the following words, either from the context or from a dictionary:
- swagman, billabong, billy, jumbuck, tuckerbag, stockman, thoroughbred, troopers
b) Is ‘Matilda’ a girl, or could it be something quite different?
c) Now that you know the words, write a short text explaining what the song is about.

Source

Waltzing Matilda

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong,
Under the shade of a coulibah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited while his billy boiled
Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me
Waltzing Matilda, waltzing Matilda
Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me
And he sang as he watched and waited by the billabong
Who'll come a waltzing Matilda with me.

Down came a jumbuck to drink at the billabong
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tuckerbag
You’ll come a waltzing …

Up rode the stockman, mounted on his thoroughbred,
Down came the troopers, one, two, three
“Where’s that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tuckerbag?”
You’ll come a waltzing …

Up jumped the swagman and jumped into the billabong,
“You'll never take me alive,” said he
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong,
You’ll come a waltzing …

(Banjo Patterson, 1895)

Links

Australian Slang Dictionary

http://www.koalanet.com.au/australian-slang.html