Probing Perspectives in Banjo Paterson’s Playful Bush Ballad “Frying Pan’s Theology”
This short comic ballad features a conversation between an Aboriginal man named Frying Pan and a young white settler regarding the origins of snow. Beyond the amusement, Paterson provides insight into contrasting worldviews.
When the boy questions how snow covers such vast land, Frying Pan dismisses Christian teaching that God controls the weather. Instead he offers a humorous analogy of someone shaking a giant sack of flour in the sky.
The Man from Snowy River and Other Verses
by Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Paterson
Frying Pan implies indigenous culture sees a less hierarchical relationship between man and nature. He resists the idea of an all-powerful deity dictating environments, instead depicting events as part of an organic process.
While playful in tone, the poem touches on serious themes of interacting perspectives and keeping open, enquiring minds. Paterson subtly challenges insular thinking and respectfully contrasts the outlooks shaping Australia as a meeting place of cultures.
So despite its brevity, “Frying Pan’s Theology” offers thoughtful examination of knowledge, authority and cross-cultural understanding through lively bush banter. Its wise message transcends the comedic rhyme.
Frying Pan’s Theology
Scene: On Monaro.
Boy (on a pony).
Snowflakes are falling
So gentle and slow,
Youngster says, Frying Pan, What makes it snow?’ Frying Pan confident Makes the reply — Shake ’em big flour bag
Up in the sky!’
What! when there’s miles of it! Sur’ly that’s brag. Who is there strong enough Shake such a bag?’ What parson tellin’ you,
Ole Mister Dodd,
Tell you in Sunday-school?
Big feller God!
He drive His bullock dray,
Then thunder go,
He shake His flour bag —
Tumble down snow!’