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Clancy of the Overflow

Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson

Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson
Clancy of the Overflow
Man From Snowy River
Waltzing Matilda

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Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson
Another one of Banjo Paterson much loved poems, first published in The Bulletin (an Australian news magazine), on the 21 December, 1889.

The poem is written from the perspective of a person who lives and works in the city. This person had met the title character Clancy, who was a shearer and drover and reminisce his envy of a lifestyle so different to his ‘the round eternal of the cashbook and the journal’.

‘The Overflow’ is the name of the sheep station where Clancy was working when they first met.

Clancy also makes a brief appearance in another Banjo Paterson poem, ‘The Man from Snowy River’, which was first published the following year, 1890.

Clancy of the Overflow
I had written him a letter which I had, 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 its 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 waste.

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.

A. B. "Banjo" Paterson
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