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By Sharon Palmer
ACTOR Jack Thompson has an affinity with all
things Australian. No less so than for the works of
some of Australia's most renowned poets, includin
It was no surprise to hear he had again teamed wi
Fine Poets to produce his second CD of Paterson's
works, The Battlefield Poems of A.B. (Banjo) Paterso
It is his fourth CD, having also narrated Bush
Poems by Banjo Paterson, Campfire Yarns by Henry
Lawson and The Sentimental Bloke by C.J. Dennis.
"I think their work defines the spirit of Australia
and who we are," he said.
"It seems to me the poetry comes alive when it's
read aloud, more so than seeing it sitting on a page."
And no one brings the works alive better than
Drawing on Paterson's time as a war corresponde
during the Boer War and World War I, The Battlefield
Poems includes 12 works ranging from the humor-
ous, in poems such as That VC, to the more serious, in
poems like Moving On and With French to Kimberley.
But it's The Last Parade Thompson rates as his favour-
ite on this CD.
"The Last Parade is really about the horses not
coming back from the war," he said.
"It is truly poignant to me, partly because I have
horses and have always been around them. I've worked
as a stationhand and a jackaroo and your horses
become very close to you and these horses were shot,
they fell, got injured and still carried their men when
they were wounded and it comes to the last parade and
they're just left there.
"For Paterson, the horse and his military serv-
ice were synonymous and he's probably written the
greatest, or one of the greatest, horse poems ever and
certainly the greatest horse poem in our lexicon in The
Man from Snowy River.
And, while the sentimentality of The Last Parade
touched him, so did the humour in That VC and the
incongruity in Boots. "I tell you what, having been in
the Army myself, I don't think I'd ever write a poem
about the boots," he said.
Thompson was in the medical corp from 1960-66.
"I was stationed at what's now 1 Military Hospital
in Brisbane and I saw a lot of our boys go to Vietnam
and I saw some of them come back. It was tough. I had
mates that never came back and then there were the
ones that did and have never been well and will never
be well again in their lives."
It is that time and his love of all things Australian
that hits home strongest for Thompson in Paterson's
"The message in these poems is really the value of
your mates and the value of understanding that we're
all in this together and I think one of the reasons I was
happy to do these poems is because Banjo doesn't let
you get away with the notion that war is glorious. It's
not. There may be wonderful moments of bravery and
nobility and self sacrifice but even those you'd rather
hadn't occurred because there is nothing glorious
"I think any writer who actually has experience of
the battlefield and who writes truly like Banjo does not
A discount price of $15 plus postage and handling ($1.55) is
available for service personnel and RSL members. To order go to
www.finepoets.com and tick on the army personnel box or phone
(02) 9665 6135 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Army May 27, 2010
Passing words around
WIN THE CD
mpliments of Fine Poets,
my has five copies of The
ttlefield Poems of A.B.
anjo) Paterson to give
ay. To enter, email your
me and contact details to
v.au. Please ensure the
ail subject line includes
e words "The Battlefield
tries close June 4.
And the last of the old campaigners,
Sinewy, lean, and spare --
He spoke for his hungry comrades:
`Have we not done our share?
`We froze on the wind-swept kopjes
When the frost lay snowy-white.
Never a halt in the daytime,
Never a rest at night!
`Over the sea you brought us,
Over the leagues of foam:
Now we have served you fairly
Will you not take us home?
`Home to the Hunter River,
To the flats where the lucerne grows;
Home where the Murrumbidgee
Runs white with the melted snows.
`This is a small thing surely!
Will not you give command
That the last of the old campaigners
Go back to their native land?'
They looked at the grim commander,
But never a sign he made.
`Dismiss!' and the old campaigners
Moved off from their last parade.
EXTRACT FROM THE LAST PARADE
by A.B.(Banjo) Paterson
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