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The bastard from the bush. A poem by Banjo Paterson

The Poem by Banjo Paterson

The bastard from the bush is a very dirty poem by the famous Australian poet Banjo Paterson, who is on our Australian $10 note.

I want to tell you a clean story first about one of the characters I knew when I grew up in the bush.

He was Irish, and when I met him he was in his forties, but the Irish can live forever, so he could still be alive.

I knew him as Paddy Cain, so no offense if your still around Paddy.

Paddy Cain was an Australian spud farmer. He grew spuds or potatoes on the top of a slope that was facing the sun, and although the fences had been down for years, and he never cleaned out the tussocks it was apparently pretty good spud dirt, or so paddy always said when at the pub. If paddy had any money he would head straight for the local pub, and get a good whiskey or six down.

Then he would go all Irish and dance and sing all night, before someone would drive him home to his ramshackle shed on his spud farm or drop him off at Pops place.

Pop was in his eighties and was an agreeable old chap until he got drunk, at which time he would throw punches at anyone in range, preceded by a little whistle, so everyone including Paddy new when to duck, and otherwise everyone liked Pop. Heart of gold, except for the odd right hook, or uppercut he threw at you when drunk, he normally got up early and could cut firewood all day.

Spuds are a hard market.

Paddy would just lie around for a fare bit of the year until he had to plant his spuds. You could tell how Paddy was off for money, he would only plant half the spud paddock if he was broke, even when spud prices were going to be good, so he often missed the market when prices were high.

One year I will always remember, he planted the whole paddock and even killed off a few tussocks and blackberry bushes to give them a bit of space to grow. It was a bad year for spuds in most of our state that year and the weather had been no good for spuds at all, except where Paddy was.

He had the only spud farm in the area, which got good rain and his paddock was loaded with top quality spuds.

I remember seeing the crop as I came out of the gully and his paddock came in to view with it's rich green cover.

He got a bumper crop of spuds that year and... the price of spuds went through the roof at the same time!

Although the full crop was a sight for saw eyes, more amazing was the bender that Paddy went on with the crop money.

He got a taxi to the city some 90 klms away, and disappeared for months.

When he came back he looked ten years older, he was ill and never had a cent left of the spud money which would have been enough to buy another farm, and several pieces of farming equipment that he did not own. He had no tractor, he used one old horse to plow a single row at a time.

I drove past where Paddy used to have his spud farm, the whole area has been developed and no sign remains of a great bush character who was both comic and tragic.

A.B.Paterson 1864 - 1941)

A.B (Andrew Barton) Paterson was a famous poet writer bushman.

He was born in Australia and knew how to spin a yarn better than most.

Here is just one of his many funny poems.It is racist and offensive.

If bad language and deeds offends, do not read this!

The bastard from the bush.

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by Banjo Patterson.

As night was falling slowly over city town and bush From down in Jones' alley sloped the Leader of the Push; Then his whistle loud and piercing woke the echoes of the "rocks" And a dozen ghouls came slouching round the corners of the blocks. Then the Leader jerked a finger at a stranger on the curb Whom he qualified politely with an adjective and a verb, Then he made the introduction --"Here's a bloke in from the bush; Fuck me blind he wants to join us and be a member of the push \ "Why fuck ya dead ,I'm 'Foreskin Ned' The Bastard from the Bush'. Iv'e been in every two up school from Wagga to Waterloo Iv'e swung lax Iv'e fucked Blacks, what more could a Bastard do ? "Are you game to smash a window ?" asked the leader of the push, I'll knock the fuckin house down said the Bastard from the bush "Would you knock a man down and rob him ?" said the leader of the push, "I'd knock him down and fuck him ,"said the Bastard from the bush. "In deed"...... "In fuckin shit". "Would you bash a fuckin copper if you caught the cunt alone Would you stoush a swell or chinese cunt ,slit his throat with a stone, Would ya have a whore to keep ya ,would ya swear off work for good?" Said The Bastard "My Kerlonial Silver Mouthed Fukin Oath I would!." "Would you care to have a cigarette?" said the leader of the push, "I'll take the fuckin packet <" said the Bastard from the bush,! "Would you take a babies candy?" said the leader of the push, "I'd take a babies maiden " said The Bastard from the bush. So the Push-ite's all took council,saying "Fuck me but he's brave, We'll make him our star basher,he'll live up to his name." So they took him to their hide -out,that Bastard from the bush And granted him all privilages appertaining to the push But soon they found his little ways were more than they could stand, So finally their Leader addressed his little band "Now listen her you buggers we've caught a fuckin tarter, At every kind of blugin this bastard is a starter. At poker and at two up he shook our bloody rolls, He swiped our fuckin' liquor and he's fucked our fuckin molls." So down in Jones' alley all the members of the Push. Laid a dark and dirty ambush for that Bastard from the bush But against the wall of Riley's pub ,the bastard made a stand, An ugly grin upon his face a bike chain in his hand They fell uipon him in a bunch and one by one they fell, With crunch of bones ,unearthly groans,and one by one they fell, Till their torn and tattered leader spitting teeth and gouts of blood, Held and ear all torn and bleeding in a hand ingrained with mud, "You low polluted bastard," snarled the leader of the Push, "Get back to where your type belong,that's somewhere in the bush, And may heaps of misfortune soon tumble down on you May some lousy harlot dose you ,till your balls turn sky blue May the pains of windy spasms through your bowels dart, May you shit your fucking trouses every time you try to fart. May you take a swig of gins piss, mistaking it for beer, May the next Push you impose yourself on, toss you out on your fucking ear! May itching piles torment you ,may puss grow out your feet, May crabs as big as spiders attack your balls a treat And when your down and out and a hopeless bloody wreck May you slip back through your arshole and break your fucking neck.


6th generation transporter on November 15, 2019:

History is its time and space.

Re-writing history, was for example does America to elevate its role in some wars and disguise its role in others (they are not alone in this parody), denies emerging generations to what 'it' was like or what really did happen..

Banjo captured time and space but they who followed produced Bawdy interpretations.

This is reality and a part of the history of Australia.

KJ.Cashman on May 15, 2019:

This is as old as the hills-all you readers of sensitive persuasion must remember he was one of the best horse breakers around-apparently broke "Bill The Bastard

Not an IDtenT on August 04, 2018:

Your attribution of this 'work' to the Banjo ranks with your ability to spell "offense".........

My first secondary school English teacher, Mr McLean, who served with A.B.Paterson in Egypt, would be similarly disgusted.

It surprises me that the Paterson Estate doesn't seek an apology for impugning his reputation and/or pursue you for damages !

nackers on June 03, 2012:

Hi all,, thanx for the poem.. There's another poem about Foreskin Ned, I know the start and little bits and pieces but would love to find the whole thing,,,

Here's bit of what I can remember

It twas on the south queensland border

On the banks of the Gunnaroo

There stood a little Whore House

And a Bloody Good One Too,,



There twas movement at the Whore House

For the Word had got around

The Slut from ???????

with the half cut gut


Anyone ever heard this one I would really love

to hear it all again

Thanx heaps

tedc on April 05, 2012:

I've found 'The Bastard from the Bush' Published in Snatches and Lays

atrib to Henry Lawson

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on August 24, 2011:

Thanks tedc, I am familiar with it. Opinion seems to be that Lawson wrote The bastard from the bush, yet on many sites it is attributed to Paterson.

tedc on August 24, 2011:

That would be a pity earnest, considering Henry Lawson never published it as such. I believe he had sheets of it printed by his mates at the Bulletin and sold them for threepence a copy around Railway Square.

Another he sold was 'The Gambler's Lament' I will post it up here, (or what I can remember of it)

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on August 24, 2011:

Thank you for the correction TedC.

It looks as if I may have to pull this hub down, it is in violation of Tos I think.

A shame, I think it is a powerful and raw piece of history myself.

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on June 07, 2011:

Thanks for your opinion slem, I believe there are many others who would agree with you.

slem on June 07, 2011:

I' d have to argue with John Mc Smith (funny you should call him an"authoritave voice" just coz he agrees with you! lol). There's no way paterson would have written anything this bawdy - it reeks of lawson. I worked at the hyde park barracks museum for years - which is where i first stumbled across this poem in 1993. The document was dated mid 20th century and attributed both Captain of the Push and (as I mentioned before) the underground (hence not published, John) version some (Bastard) years later.

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on May 15, 2011:

I agree. I will try to do so when time permits, thank you.

Ethelred on May 15, 2011:

A great poem, but a pity that the words in this posting has lost its stanza format. A visual rhyme would make it easier to memorise the verses for an entertaining recital.

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on May 13, 2011:

Thanks Peter, it is still being debated as to who wrote it, and some of the comments here have various theories. I was not aware of the attitude towards language at that time.

Peter Gold Coast on May 13, 2011:

I am nearly 80 and was brought up in country Tasmania and far north N.S.W. I first heard The Bastard from the bush when I was about 17 and back then it was attributed to Henry Lawson.

Of course I have no proof. Back in those days you could get a gaol sentence for even carrying something like that in your wallet. In the forties and fifties you could be fined for saying "bloody" in the street, particularly if women were about.

I also had many a riotous beer in the Royal George in the mid fifties, but wasn't aware at that time of the significance of the pub to the Bastard from The Bush

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on December 15, 2010:

Thank you rx4u, I imagine Mr. Paterson is not for everyone thus the warning in the hub and no advertising either. I am pleased you enjoyed my little story about Paddy Cain.

rx4u on December 15, 2010:

I enjoyed your story of Paddy Cain much more than Mr. Paterson's poem--(I guess it was a bit rough for me!) That being said, you have peaked my interest and I'm off to read more of your writing! Cheers!

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on November 05, 2010:

Nice comment Doug. I agree it is the "characters" who are interesting to read about.

The wild west in America had heaps of them to write about. It made an enormous impact on the movies when basically they were writing about a bunch of crooks for the most part.

Doug Turner Jr. on November 05, 2010:

Paddy is yet another one of those great characters we encounter in life. I don't want to be someone like Paddy, but it sure is entertaining having him out there. They don't write stories or concoct legends about safe, normal people.

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on November 02, 2010:

Thanks Keith, I can't recall ever seeing Paddy sober!

Banjo Paterson was one very humorous dude! As you know, he wrote a lot of other great poems, but this one is a ripper in my opinion.

attemptedhumour from Australia on November 02, 2010:

Hi Ernie loved the story at the beginning, typical the way booze works, the Devil pulling the strings, oops, maybe the bartender then. Banjo's poem although racy is brilliant i'm so glad you have spread his work a little wider afield. Cheers mate

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on October 25, 2010:

Thanks for the authoritative comment John, I believe Banjo wrote it. it would be well out of character for Lawson.

John McSmith on October 25, 2010:

I am a lover of australian poetry and a member of the Henry Lawson Memorial and Literature Society inc. I can't ever remember reading that poem, let alone attributed to him. Do you have proof that Henry Lawson wrote it?

Thank You John.

My email is

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on September 21, 2010:

Ian if you read Lawson you will see he was almost puritanical in outlook, and it is more likely the other way round.

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on April 02, 2010:

As I understood it, Lawson wrote "The leader of the push" which Paterson re-wrote as "The bastard from the bush"

Both were on the &10 note, Paterson on the newer one.

Ian J. on April 02, 2010:

The Bastard from the bush was attributed to Henry Lawson, not Banjo Paterson. And Henry Lawson was on the old $10 note.

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on January 10, 2010:

I hope I can dig up some more Banjoe soon!

Denizee on January 10, 2010:

Priceless, great rich imagery and it made me laugh out loud.

Thank you for sharing this; I hope to read more from you.

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on January 06, 2010:

Thank you Qwark, I have been following you in the forums. Very savvy! Off to the forum again!

qwark on January 06, 2010:


I loved it! I'm sitting here with an ear to ear smile!

It sparkles with life!

It is real and portrays,in colorful and expressive expletives, a facet of life few, living in their protective shells, know or dare to even read about!

I'm not familiar with Australian vernacular, but it wasn't hard to "figger" out what was 'goin on.

Thanks for beginning my day with an appreciative laugh!

I need a fresh re-fill. My coffee got cold while I was concentrating on and enjoying this wonderful piece of poetry in prose.

You have a new Fan! :-)


earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on November 11, 2009:

Thanks Phillip, do you have any information on the author?

Phillip.Holmes on November 11, 2009:

The Bastard from the Bush definetely not Paterson. Not sure if Lawsons, doubtful,trying to prove author. Probably changed version of The Captain of the Push

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on November 06, 2009:

A poem called The Bastard from the Bush[2], often attributed to Henry Lawson, describes in vivid and colourful language a meeting between a "Captain" of the Push and the "Bastard from the Bush".

I thought the Poem was by Paterson, (thanks for the spell check!) Is it still disputed?

YorrickHunt on November 06, 2009:

Incidently . . . Henry Lawson was on our old paper $10 note before they put Paterson on the newer polymer one

YorrickHunt on November 06, 2009:

Definetly not Banjo (Paterson with only one T) but Henry Lawson who (may have) written this one.

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on October 07, 2009:

Thanks a lot twalker! I agree! Patterson was a wordsmith of great standing. I love his work.

It was nice to see you had a "Paddy" or two in your life!

Tyson Walker from Las Vegas Nevada on October 07, 2009:

Great story shrub. Bad language is only "bad" when it is used due to a lack of vocabulary, then it reflects idiocy. Well placed language , taboo or not, is an excellent tool. The story reflects Paterson's talents, so thanks for exposing me to another quality author.

Especially thanks for the Paddy story. I hope he is still kicking around somewhere. Got a few of those in my family. It was the men like Paddy that inadvertently taught me how to tell stories.

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on September 19, 2009:

Hello mccrane, so very nice of you to leave this comment.

glad you enjoyed it!

The language is wonderfully descriptive of the Sydney push and that is how they would have spoken. Hubpages has never questioned it either.

rmcrayne from San Antonio Texas on September 18, 2009:

I'm not offended by bad language :) Long live Paddy!

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on August 20, 2009:

Just think where you would be if you taught all of Banjo, or even Lawson in 1972! Probably be jailed! Great comment.

prziloczek from Wisbech, Cambs, UK on August 20, 2009:

And to think of it! In 1972, I was teaching Banjo Patterson and his poems out of "Wide Brown Land" to 11 year olds at Hale School, Perth!

I wish I had had this poem - they would never have forgotten it!

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on August 13, 2009:

Thanks Ollie, I have seen this , and it has also been mentioned previously in the comments.

Ollie on August 13, 2009:

Hi all, I just wanted to correct a few things, "The bastard from the bush was written by Henry Lawson not Banjo Patterson, Lawson did it as a send up of his "Captain of the Push" poem.

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on August 01, 2009:

Thanks ralwus.

ralwus on July 31, 2009:

Sounds like some characters I worked with in the oil patch. god I miss them. Great hub earnest, I really enjoyed it.

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on July 29, 2009:

Finbarr Yep get yer pommey arse over here mate! Would love to see you here. Ray Mears would have been calling for his mummy if he was a loggers son in Australia in the fifties!

Finbarr Bergeuse from South East England on July 29, 2009:

Know where to come when next in Oz. Ray Mears eat yer heart out. I'll bring me own meths.

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on July 28, 2009:

I have quite a few pommey mates here, so I get to keep up with what is happening in the "old" country, and the dreat sense of humor that we inherited.You have mentioned some of the best.

I think the old days of Australian Bushmen is dying out. I remember the tough blokes of the bush well from my childhood.

I remember taking all the skin of the back of my hand on a winch rope. The old man saying "You've just lost a bit of bark, she'll be right! If I had been in the city they would have raced me off to a hospital. We just pored methylated spirits on it, (all we had) and kept on working.

Finbarr Bergeuse from South East England on July 28, 2009:

I say Earnest old chap, I mean to say what? As a Pommey bastard meself I have to tell you I've met a few 'Banjos' not in the bush but here, in Earls Court, London! Particulary at the present time, doncha know? If you believe the preceding accent(if an 'accent' can be written)you will believe that Wallabies come out of 'Roos. I feel confident in confiding with you though mate, because I was born, brought up and worked in London Docks (as was) and had a lot to do with those oz boats bringing over your apples! Tasmanian Star amongst a host of other 'Stars'. The characters to be encountered there were.. well kind of 'cockney' Banjos. I reckon that the reason I empathise with old 'Bush Bastard' is because he evokes that great and masculine world which I too once inhabited! (Has this really become a world of whimps and wusses?) Did you know (pretty sure you did)that A B Paterson also wrote "The Travelling Post Office". Also recommend amongst other Aussie works is "Said Hanrahan" by John O'Brien (P J Hartigan). Yep, earnesthub, there has been a heck of a lot of good stuff out from you Antipodeans! Go good.

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on July 27, 2009:

It is a terrific name isn't it?

lxxy from Beneath, Between, Beyond on July 27, 2009:

Anyone who has the first name "Banjo" is alright with me!

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on July 26, 2009:

S.Lem, thank you for this information. I will take a further look at the research on Henry Lawson. I would not be amazed if what you say is true. There was a lot of historical mistakes made at this time.

Slem on July 25, 2009:

The Bastard from the Bush was written by Henry Lawson, not Banjo Patterson. Lawson wrote the original as a clean poem called the Captain of the Push, then bastardised - excuse the pun - the poem to the bawdy underground version posted above.

Great poem regardless.



Quilligrapher from New York on July 01, 2009:

Loved da hub!  Thanx Earnest


earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on July 01, 2009:

Thank you so much manlypoetryman! I don't see too many comments that demonstrate such a great love our this marvelous poet. Thank you for reading y Paddy Cain story too.

ManlyPoetryMan from (Texas) Boldly Writing Poems Where No Man Has Gone Before... on July 01, 2009:

Well...I guess the Bastard of the Bush Poem would have a hard time making it onto Hallmark greeting cards for sure...That was educational unto itself! OK, rule! Cute Fluffy Poems be damned! Also...was interesting that he wrote the Poem: "Man from Snowy River". That is a great story. It has always been a favorite movie tale of mine. Honestly...I would wish that I could barely try to capture the same spirit of the open range...and of a creature of the wild...and a rider in touch with his surroundings...that does not hesitate down hideously dangerous slopes...that other horses pause for... like Banjo wrote of! Banjo was an inspiration to me...and I didn't know it! Thanks earnest...for bringing Banjo to Hub Pages. I hope you'll share more on this Manly Poem guy named Banjo the future. Liked the tale of Irish Paddy Cain and "Pop"...with his whistling before he threw a punch.  Just what I would expect from a legendary Australian place known as the bush...Classic Stuff!

Robert E Smith from Rochester, New York on June 02, 2009:

Gritty and sadly real. Human to the nth degree. Thanks for sharing. The cussin' didn't hurt me none.

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on May 30, 2009:

wow jewels! Your uncle must be quite a character.

Jewels from Australia on May 30, 2009:

Amazing poetic license was alive and well in Patterson's day. Shows what political correctness can do in modern times. I've an uncle who speaks just like the character in Banjo's poem. Strewth!

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on May 30, 2009:

Yep he is on our ten dollar note. Banjo Patterson has been considered alongside many of the worlds great writers.

Dori S Matte from Hillsborough on May 29, 2009:

Great Story and that poem hilarious! And we think we lead boring lives!


HeSaid SheSaid from our favorite love seat on May 29, 2009:

Fantastic story Earnest.  Quite some characters going on in here.  Is this poet really on the 10 in Australia?  That's fascinating! ~Naddy

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on May 19, 2009:

Thank you for the great comment Will.

Will Apse on May 19, 2009:

I have to say that as, someone who is English to the last atom of each and every fingernail ,that it is the Irish and the Scots and the Welsh who maintained my faith in humanity through many dark years in the Great Wen that is sometimes called London. Who I enjoyed this tale. Thx.

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on February 26, 2009:

Thank you very much blondepoet. I am enjoying your hubs very much too.

blondepoet from australia on February 26, 2009:

Wow, what a great story, you told it so well. Really well done thanks for sharing it with us.

earnestshub (author) from Melbourne Australia on January 21, 2009:

It is sad. Something about their life force seems in a hurry.

Sheila from The Other Bangor on January 21, 2009:

Thank you for this great story about Paddy Cain. Reminds me of my great Uncle George, who, when they took his driver's license off him, drove his tractor to the pub -- and when they told him not to do that, rode his bicycle -- and knocked a local policeman off his feet in the process.

And when he died (in the pub, of course), they found in his wallet the engagement ring he had given his fiancée decades before, which she had returned when she broke off the engagement. . . .

Why do we love these old characters so much, and yet we know they were really killing themselves with all the booze? It's sad.

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