Deceit and Despair – Analyzing ‘Our New Horse’ by Banjo Paterson
Banjo Paterson’s humorous ballad ‘Our New Horse’ utilizes irony and Australian cultural references to caution against dishonest schemes. Through the misfortunes of a group of hapless racehorse owners, Paterson warns against duplicity and false hope.
We are introduced to a group of frustrated men who cannot seem to pick a winning horse. They decide to deceitfully sell their lackluster racehorse Partner in Sydney, hoping to foist him off as a prized prospect.
The Man from Snowy River and Other Verses
by Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Paterson
Paterson masterfully builds up the suspense as the men excitedly learn a horse fitting Partner’s description has been purchased in Sydney by their friend Skinner. However, Paterson pivots with the wry reveal that Skinner has ignorantly bought back the very same useless horse they just sold.
The men’s hopes are devastatingly dashed, and they are left financially and emotionally devastated, having manipulated others only to be hoisted by their own petard. Paterson amusingly depicts their bitterness at having “bit their own hook” and been “landed” right back where they started.
By employing irony and subtly ridiculing the men’s various schemes, Paterson cautions against duplicity and moral lapses, instead advocating for integrity. The men’s downfall stems from their own dishonesty and lack of principles.
With humorous flair, Paterson issues a warning about the consequences of unscrupulous behavior. This entertaining bush ballad highlights the importance of wisdom and earnestness over risky gambits.
Our New Horse
The boys had come back from the races
All silent and down on their luck;
They’d backed ’em, straight out and for places,
But never a winner they struck.
They lost their good money on Slogan,
And fell, most uncommonly flat,
When Partner, the pride of the Bogan,
Was beaten by Aristocrat.
And one said, `I move that instanter
We sell out our horses and quit,
The brutes ought to win in a canter,
Such trials they do when they’re fit.
The last one they ran was a snorter —
A gallop to gladden one’s heart —
Two-twelve for a mile and a quarter,
And finished as straight as a dart.
`And then when I think that they’re ready
To win me a nice little swag,
They are licked like the veriest neddy —
They’re licked from the fall of the flag.
The mare held her own to the stable,
She died out to nothing at that,
And Partner he never seemed able
To pace it with Aristocrat.
`And times have been bad, and the seasons
Don’t promise to be of the best;
In short, boys, there’s plenty of reasons
For giving the racing a rest.
The mare can be kept on the station —
Her breeding is good as can be —
But Partner, his next destination
Is rather a trouble to me.
`We can’t sell him here, for they know him
As well as the clerk of the course;
He’s raced and won races till, blow him,
He’s done as a handicap horse.
A jady, uncertain performer,
They weight him right out of the hunt,
And clap it on warmer and warmer
Whenever he gets near the front.
It’s no use to paint him or dot him Or put anyfake’ on his brand,
For bushmen are smart, and they’d spot him
In any sale-yard in the land.
The folk about here could all tell him,
Could swear to each separate hair;
Let us send him to Sydney and sell him,
There’s plenty of Jugginses there.
`We’ll call him a maiden, and treat ’em
To trials will open their eyes,
We’ll run their best horses and beat ’em,
And then won’t they think him a prize.
I pity the fellow that buys him,
He’ll find in a very short space,
No matter how highly he tries him,
The beggar won’t RACE in a race.’
Next week, under Seller and Buyer’, Appeared in the DAILY GAZETTE: A racehorse for sale, and a flyer;
Has never been started as yet;
A trial will show what his pace is;
The buyer can get him in light,
And win all the handicap races.
Apply here before Wednesday night.’
He sold for a hundred and thirty,
Because of a gallop he had
One morning with Bluefish and Bertie,
And donkey-licked both of ’em bad.
And when the old horse had departed,
The life on the station grew tame;
The race-track was dull and deserted,
The boys had gone back on the game.
The winter rolled by, and the station
Was green with the garland of spring
A spirit of glad exultation
Awoke in each animate thing.
And all the old love, the old longing,
Broke out in the breasts of the boys,
The visions of racing came thronging
With all its delirious joys.
The rushing of floods in their courses,
The rattle of rain on the roofs
Recalled the fierce rush of the horses,
The thunder of galloping hoofs.
And soon one broke out: `I can suffer
No longer the life of a slug,
The man that don’t race is a duffer,
Let’s have one more run for the mug.
`Why, EVERYTHING races, no matter
Whatever its method may be:
The waterfowl hold a regatta;
The ‘possums run heats up a tree;
The emus are constantly sprinting
A handicap out on the plain;
It seems like all nature was hinting,
‘Tis time to be at it again.
`The cockatoo parrots are talking
Of races to far away lands;
The native companions are walking
A go-as-you-please on the sands;
The little foals gallop for pastime;
The wallabies race down the gap;
Let’s try it once more for the last time,
Bring out the old jacket and cap.
`And now for a horse; we might try one
Of those that are bred on the place,
But I think it better to buy one,
A horse that has proved he can race.
Let us send down to Sydney to Skinner,
A thorough good judge who can ride,
And ask him to buy us a spinner
To clean out the whole countryside.’
They wrote him a letter as follows:
We want you to buy us a horse; He must have the speed to catch swallows, And stamina with it of course. The price ain’t a thing that’ll grieve us, It’s getting a bad ‘un annoys The undersigned blokes, and believe us, We’re yours to a cinder,the boys’.’
He answered: `I’ve bought you a hummer,
A horse that has never been raced;
I saw him run over the Drummer,
He held him outclassed and outpaced.
His breeding’s not known, but they state he
Is born of a thoroughbred strain,
I paid them a hundred and eighty,
And started the horse in the train.’
They met him — alas, that these verses
Aren’t up to the subject’s demands —
Can’t set forth their eloquent curses,
FOR PARTNER WAS BACK ON THEIR HANDS.
They went in to meet him in gladness,
They opened his box with delight —
A silent procession of sadness
They crept to the station at night.
And life has grown dull on the station,
The boys are all silent and slow;
Their work is a daily vexation,
And sport is unknown to them now.
Whenever they think how they stranded,
They squeal just like guinea-pigs squeal;
They bit their own hook, and were landed
With fifty pounds loss on the deal.