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Beside the bare and beaten track of travelling flocks and herds
The woodpecker went tapping on, the postman of the birds,
“I’ve got a letter here,” he said, “that no one’s understood,
Addressed as follows: ‘To the bird that’s like a piece of wood.’
“The soldier bird got very cross — it wasn’t meant for her;
The spurwing plover had a try to stab me with a spur:
The jackass laughed, and said the thing was written for a lark.
I think I’ll chuck this postman job and take to stripping bark.”

Then all the birds for miles around came in to lend a hand;
They perched upon a broken limb as thick as they could stand,
And just as old man eaglehawk prepared to have his say
A portion of the broken limb got up and flew away.

Then, casting grammar to the winds, the postman said, “That’s him!
The boobook owl — he squats himself along a broken limb,
And pokes his beak up like a stick; there’s not a bird, I vow,
Can tell you which is boobook owl and which is broken bough.

“And that’s the thing he calls his nest — that jerry-built affair —
A bunch of sticks across a fork; I’ll leave his letter there.
A cuckoo wouldn’t use his nest, but what’s the odds to him —
A bird that tries to imitate a piece of leaning limb!”

Short Poem Analysis

Banjo Paterson's poem "Camouflage" is a satirical take on the military practice of disguising soldiers and equipment. The poem humorously describes the various ways in which soldiers are camouflaged, but also takes a serious turn to describe the horrors of war and the senseless violence it entails. The poem ends on a more hopeful note, suggesting that the true purpose of camouflage is to stay alive and out of harm's way. Overall, "Camouflage" is a witty and ironic commentary on the futility of war and the need to find more peaceful ways to resolve conflicts.

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