Life and Love and ‘Lasca’

Peter Kirkpatrick


A century ago Frank Desprez’s literary ballad ‘Lasca’ was famous across America and the British Empire, but has fallen into obscurity since the demise of recitation as a popular practice, and no standard text is currently available. As well as providing an accurate text of the poem from its original source, this essay gives an account of its history, influences, and textual transformations, and considers its appropriation within the genre of cowboy poetry, which has parallels with the Australian bush ballad. The essay concludes with an account of ‘Lasca’s’ reception in Australia and its likely influence on A.B. Paterson’s ‘Clancy of the Overflow’.

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