Friday, July 29, 2011

Clancy of the Overflow

A great Australian poem by Banjo Paterson is "Clancy of the Overflow". If you'd have asked me anything about this poem I would have remembered the name of the poem, that an Australian movie in the 80s was based on it, but nothing else.

On borrowing a children's book with this poem in it, it has re-ignited my interest in the poem. I have felt very connected with the poem and despite being written in the late 19th century still has much appeal and realism to it. Thought I would share the poem with you all to see whether it brings back some childhood memories or stirs something from within.

"I had written him a letter which I had found, for want of better knowledge, 
sent to where I met him down the Lachlan, years ago, 
He was shearing when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him, 
Just 'on spec', addressed as follows, 'Clancy, of the Overflow'. 
And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected, 
(And I think the same was written with a thumb-nail dipped in tar) 
"Twas his shearing mate who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:
'Clancy's gone to Queensland droving, and we don't know where he are.' 
In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy
Gone-a-droving 'down the Cooper' where the Western drovers go;
As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing, 
For the drover's life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.
And the bush hath friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him
In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended, 
And at night the wond'rous glory of the everlasting stars. 
I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy 
Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall, 
And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city
Through the open window floating spreads it foulness over all
And in place of lowing cattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle
Of the tramways and the 'buses making hurry down the street, 
And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting, 
Comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet. 
And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me
As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste, 
With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy, 
For townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to wast.
And I somehow rather fancy that I'd like to change with Clancy,
Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go, 
While he faced the round eternal of the cash-book and the journal --
But I doubt he'd suit the office, Clancy, of 'The Overflow'."  Pin It

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