The Rainbow Quest

I wrote this poem as a tribute piece shortly after the death of Pete Seeger.

Check out “The Rainbow Quest” on YouTube. They are all absolute treasures!



The Rainbow Quest


Pete Seeger had many a musical guest

On his little TV show,”The Rainbow Quest”.

They came from all over, with banjos in tow,

To jump on the set, and be part of the show.


Few people saw it. The budget was slight

(Thirty-nine episodes, all black and white),

But Seeger was having the time of his life,

Ably assisted by Toshi, his wife.


Folk, old-timey, bluegrass, blues,

They came on board to spread the news

That musical talent was everywhere,

Though many were troubled, and worn with care.


They carried the message that music brings

Hope to the plucker, the person that sings;

That it opens your lungs, that it fills your heart,

That it brings fresh hope of a bright new start.


These weren’t the tunes of expensive schools.

They were ordinary folk with handmade tools,

Yet ‘ordinary’ doesn’t describe them well.

They were gifted maestros with tales to tell;


Tales of hardship, tales of pain,

Tales of falling again and again,

Tales of trouble, tales of strife,

Triumphant tales through difficult life.


Seeger’s childhood wasn’t that tough,

A white boy’s romp through bubble and fluff,

Yet he formed a rapport with these women and men

Through the bonds of strumming, and pencil or pen.


He formed a bridge that is all too rare

‘Tween the world of wealth, and the world of care;

‘Tween black and white, and Indian, too

(While Toshi directed the camera crew).


He’s gone now. No new notes will come

From his throat. No strumming of finger or thumb.

Yet I believe that his legacy

Will only grow – well, it will for me.


There’s live recordings of concerts grand

Where he’s backed by a talented, jaunty band,

But perhaps the record that captures him best

Is that little TV show, “The Rainbow Quest”.


© Stephen Whiteside   09.02.2014

About Stephen Whiteside

Stephen Whiteside is primarily a writer of rhyming verse. He has been writing for over thirty years, and writes for both adults and children. Many of his poems have been published in magazines and anthologies, both in Australia and overseas, or won awards. His collection of rhyming verse for children, "'The Billy That Died With Its Boots On' and Other Australian Verse", was published by Walker Books in May 2014. Stephen performs regularly at folk festivals around the country - mostly in Victoria. He is also a great fan of the Australian poet C. J. Dennis. He is a foundation member of the C. J. Dennis Society, and is closely involved in the organisation of the annual Toolangi C. J. Dennis Poetry Festival. Stephen is a long-suffering Melbourne supporter.


  1. Leonie Bourke says

    Thank you for that lovely tribute to one of my favourite musicians. I was delighted to see the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem as Pete’s guests on one of these shows.

  2. Peter the Mudie says

    Pete Seeger knew how to play,
    and Stephen loved a good rhyme
    but it was Norman McLaren
    (whose film used Pete’s tune)
    that will be remembered, for all time.

    (Lines Horizontal, a memorable animation McLaren finished in ’64 – check it out)

    Oh, right – go the Dockers

Leave a Comment