Under the Shadow of Kiley's Hill by Banjo Paterson

Under the Shadow of Kiley’s Hill by Banjo Paterson

Remembering Family Roots

In this poem, Banjo Paterson reflects on family and change through memories of an old family farmstead. Using easy, conversational language, he explores themes of nostalgia, hardship, and the passage of time.

Paterson starts by vividly describing the old family home, now abandoned and decaying. This creates a feeling of loss and longing for the past. Phrases like “scattered and lost and dead” emphasize grief over the family’s disconnect.

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 second verse explains where the children who grew up on the farm have ended up. Each is struggling in some way, from drought to overwork. This depicts how the hardships of life have separated the once close-knit family.

The parents’ graves represent their permanent tie to the land, in contrast to the children’s restless lives. Paterson seems to view deep roots to the land as something valuable now gone.

By threading memories through the empty, crumbling homestead, Paterson reflects bittersweetly on fading family bonds. He connects the land itself to reminiscing about better times and shared identity. Though written long ago, the poem’s themes of change and longing for the past remain relatable.

In plain, conversational language, Paterson crafts a melancholic ode to memories and roots being reclaimed by the land. He captures the emotional power a family home can hold across generations.

Under the Shadow of Kiley’s Hill

This is the place where they all were bred;
Some of the rafters are standing still;
Now they are scattered and lost and dead,
Every one from the old nest fled,
Out of the shadow of Kiley’s Hill.

Better it is that they ne’er came back —
Changes and chances are quickly rung;
Now the old homestead is gone to rack,
Green is the grass on the well-worn track
Down by the gate where the roses clung.

Gone is the garden they kept with care;
Left to decay at its own sweet will,
Fruit trees and flower beds eaten bare,
Cattle and sheep where the roses were,
Under the shadow of Kiley’s Hill.

Where are the children that throve and grew
In the old homestead in days gone by?
One is away on the far Barcoo
Watching his cattle the long year through,
Watching them starve in the droughts and die.

One in the town where all cares are rife,
Weary with troubles that cramp and kill,
Fain would be done with the restless strife,
Fain would go back to the old bush life,
Back to the shadow of Kiley’s Hill.

One is away on the roving quest,
Seeking his share of the golden spoil,
Out in the wastes of the trackless west,
Wandering ever he gives the best
Of his years and strength to the hopeless toil.

What of the parents? That unkept mound
Shows where they slumber united still;
Rough is their grave, but they sleep as sound
Out on the range as on holy ground,
Under the shadow of Kiley’s Hill.

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