Australian poem: 2008 series #3 — anon. "Botany Bay"

24 Jan

Does everyone in Australia know this? Anyone who has been educated here should, probably does.


Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ad-di-ty,
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ay,
Singing too-rall, li-oo-rall, li-ad-di-ty
Oh we are bound for Botany Bay.

Verse 1
Farewell to Old England forever
Farewell to my old pals as well
Farewell to the well known Old Bailee
Where I once used to be such a swell.

Verse 2
There’s the captain as is our commandeer,
There’s bo’sun and all the ship’s crew
There’s first and the second class passengers,
Knows what we poor convicts goes through.

Verse 3
‘Taint leaving Old England we cares about,
‘Taint ‘cos we mispells wot we knows
But becos all we light finger’d gentry
Hops around with a log on our toes.

Verse 4
Oh had I the wings of a turtle-dove,
I’d soar on my pinions so high,
Slap bang to the arms of my Polly love,
And in her sweet presence I’d die.

Verse 5
Now all my young Dookies and Duchesses,
Take warning from what I’ve to say,
Mind all is your own as you touch-es-es,
Or you’ll find us in Botany Bay.

This site quotes folklorist Bill Beatty (1960): “…it is not a transportation song, although listed as such (it was written about 1885), but it is closely akin to a very old ditty on a similar theme called Farewell to Judges and Juries.”

Australia Day coming up, so why not?

And here is a good list of Australian poems to 1920: Contents of John Kinsella’s Australian Poetry to 1920. (PDF)

Two interesting pictures, the first from Sydney’s Mitchell Library, the second from the Natural History Museum (London) exhibition of First Fleet art works.



1 Comment

Posted by on January 24, 2008 in Australia, OzLit, poets and poetry


Tags: , ,

One response to “Australian poem: 2008 series #3 — anon. "Botany Bay"

  1. Thomas

    January 24, 2008 at 11:28 am

    I’m ashamed to admit that I enjoy Rolf Harris’ rendition of this.

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