The Daylight is Dying by Banjo Paterson

The Daylight is Dying by Banjo Paterson

Ode to the Bush – An Analysis of ‘The Daylight is Dying’ by Banjo Paterson

In ‘The Daylight is Dying,’ Banjo Paterson pays a melancholy tribute to the Australian bush through vivid imagery and reflective musings. As the day draws to a close, he contemplates the elemental beauty of the wilderness and its inextricable link to identity.

Paterson opens with a vivid pastoral scene, describing the birds retreating silently into the trees as night falls. He personifies “wonderful night” as a protective force receiving the slumbering birds in its “bondage.”

The Man from Snowy River and Other Verses by Andrew Barton 'Banjo' Paterson - Book Cover

The Man from Snowy River and Other Verses

by Andrew Barton ‘Banjo’ Paterson

The lyrical quality continues as Paterson marvels at the unveiling of the starry night sky. He expresses a sense of awe and insignificance at nature’s grandeur. Yet he also acknowledges his inner emotional connection to the bush.

Paterson reflects on the bush lore and stories that seem woven into the very landscape. The trees, rivers, animals and sounds all form part of these tales. Without incorporating descriptive sensory details of the bush itself, any rendition would be empty – “lacking the tune”.

By embracing the Australian wilderness within his poetry, Paterson aims to transport readers back to “the wandering days.” Like half-remembered lyrics, his words strive to recall readers’ own affinity for the bush as a touchstone of identity and nostalgia.

Through poetic tributes to the wondrous beauty of the Australian landscape, Paterson celebrates a distinctly Australian sensibility. ‘The Daylight is Dying‘ is both an ode to the bush and an attempt to capture its ineffable spirit in verse.

The Daylight is Dying

The daylight is dying
Away in the west,
The wild birds are flying
In silence to rest;
In leafage and frondage
Where shadows are deep,
They pass to its bondage —
The kingdom of sleep.
And watched in their sleeping
By stars in the height,
They rest in your keeping,
Oh, wonderful night.

When night doth her glories
Of starshine unfold,
‘Tis then that the stories
Of bush-land are told.
Unnumbered I hold them
In memories bright,
But who could unfold them,
Or read them aright?
Beyond all denials
The stars in their glories
The breeze in the myalls
Are part of these stories.
The waving of grasses,
The song of the river
That sings as it passes
For ever and ever,
The hobble-chains’ rattle,
The calling of birds,
The lowing of cattle
Must blend with the words.
Without these, indeed, you
Would find it ere long,
As though I should read you
The words of a song
That lamely would linger
When lacking the rune,
The voice of the singer,
The lilt of the tune.

But, as one half-hearing
An old-time refrain,
With memory clearing,
Recalls it again,
These tales, roughly wrought of
The bush and its ways,
May call back a thought of
The wandering days,
And, blending with each
In the mem’ries that throng,
There haply shall reach
You some echo of song.

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