Banjo Paterson, Australia's bush poet, celebrated during 150th anniversary:
This is an iconic poet for Australia. We want to make sure that younger generations are aware of Banjo and his contribution to Australia,” Taste Orange executive officer Rhonda Sear said.
“His songs and stories picked up a lot of things that are the basis of our view of ourselves,” Fahey said. “Loneliness in the bush, walking off properties, dealing with natural disasters and financial ruin. They were all covered by Paterson.”
See accompanying article: Banjo Paterson: is he still the bard of the bush?
Where Paterson took a Romanticist view of the outback – Wordsworth was an influence – Lawson favoured a social realist perspective, emphasising the harshness of the environment and the inequality between (poor) selectors and (rich) squatters, rather like the homesteaders and ranchers in the US west. For all its faults the modern city, argued Lawson, was where the egalitarian dream of a democratic Australia could more likely be achieved.
In the literary joust between Paterson and Lawson over the basis for Australian national identity, the former won out in terms of sales. The audience warmed to his wistful humour and underlying optimism, and could not bear too much of Lawson’s grim reality.
The fact that relatively few Australians have ever lived in the bush and thus experienced for themselves the isolation, monotony and physical hardships worked to Paterson’s advantage.
His outback is the stuff of myth, though at the same time his vision is never merely fanciful. According to the leading contemporary Australian poet Les Murray, Paterson, even at his broadest, “carries us into a legendary Australia he did much to create, a country in part bygone, in part fictional, in part still there”.