Poetry and Songs 

Poetry can have many purposes.  It can inform, entertain, amuse, console, tell a story or pass on cultural knowledge or history. 

Poetry as a text type has many purposes and forms. The features of other text types are also used as a basis for poetry, for example, lists, recounts, dialogue and answers.

Poetry can be written or spoken for an intended reader and it may also be composed for a personal outcome.  The concise and powerful nature of poetry conveys emotion particularly well. 

                                      'Poetry is spare, euphonic (pleasant-sounding) language that operates  
                         very much like data compression: one word can hold then release a tumble of information.  
                           A poet has only a short space (even in long poems) to convey his or her thoughts,
                                                    and so must work towards making every word count'

                                                                                        Winch et al 2006

Like oral storytelling, poetry has strong social and historical links with cultures and communities.  Poems can share stories and cultural history of times gone by and can also communicate the most contemporary issues.  Poetry can be used for specific purposes like catchy advertising jingles or as the basis for wonderful song lyrics. For example, the words of our much-loved Australian song Walzing Matilda are incredibly poetic - as you can read and hear below. 

'Walzing Matilda' has several versions and almost became our Australian national Anthem in 1974.  That honour however, was given to Advance Australia Fair.  These two Australian songs provide the topic for worthwhile investigations by Primary students.  Not only is it important for Primary students to learn the words so they can sing along with pride on special occassions, like the Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games ceremonies and the start of many sporting events in this country, but further, these two songs provide opportunities to study the history of the Australian people, and the development of our language, colloquialisms and 'slang'.  

Waltzing Matilda
by Marie Cowan

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong
Under the shade of a Coolibah tree
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled
You'll come a waltzing Matilda with me

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
you'll come a Waltzing Matilda with me
And he sang as he watched and waited till his billy boiled
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me

Down came a jumbuch to drink at the billabong
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tuckerbag
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me


Up road the squatter mounted on his thoroughbred
Down came the troppers one two three
Whose that jolly jumbuck you've got in the tuckerbag?
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me


Up jumped the swagman and sprang into the billabong
You'll never catch me alive said he
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong
You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me.(Chorus)