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Clancy of the Overflow by A. B. "Banjo" Paterson

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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 in a thumbnail 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 wondrous 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 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 cashbook and the journal --
   But I doubt he'd suit the office, Clancy, of "The Overflow".

First published in The Bulletin, 21 December 1889, and again in the same magazine on 29 January 1930, 29 January 1980 and 26 December 1989;
and later in
A Golden Shanty: Australian Stories and Sketches in Prose and Verse, 1890;
The Man From Snowy River and Other Verses by A.B. Paterson, 1895;
An Anthology of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1907;
The Golden Treasury of Australian Verse edited by Bertram Stevens, 1909;
The Oxford Book of Australian Verse edited by Walter Murdoch, 1924;
Selections from the Australian Poets edited by Bertram Stevens, 1925;
New Song in an Old Land edited by Rex Ingamells, 1943;
Favourite Australian Poems edited by Ian Mudie, 1963;
Silence into Song: An Anthology of Australian Verse edited by Clifford O'Brien, 1968;
Australian Kaleidoscope edited by Barbara Ker Wilson, 1968;
The Collected Verse of A.B. Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1982;
A Treasury of Colonial Poetry, 1982;
Singer of the Bush, A.B. (Banjo) Paterson: Complete Works 1885-1900 compiled by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie, 1983;
Cross-Country: A Book of Australian Verse edited by John Barnes and Brian McFarlane, 1984;
The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse compiled by Beatrice Davis, 1984;
My Country: Australian Poetry and Short Stories, Two Hundred Years edited by Leonie Kramer, 1985;
Favorite Australian Poems, 1987;
Banjo Paterson's Poems of the Bush by A.B. Paterson, 1987;
The Bushwackers Australian Song Book edited by Jan Wositzky and Dobe Newton, 1988;
A Collection of Australian Bush Verse, 1989;
The Banjo's Best-Loved Poems edited by Rosamund Campbell and Philippa Harvie, 1989;
A Vision Splendid: The Complete Poetry of A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 1990;
The Macmillan Anthology of Australian Literature edited by Ken L. Goodwin and Alan Lawson, 1990;
A Treasury of Bush Verse edited by G.A. Wilkes, 1991;
A.B. 'Banjo' Paterson: Bush Ballads, Poems, Stories and Journalism edited by Clement Semmler, 1992;
Selected Poems: A. B. Paterson compiled by Les Murray, 1992;
The Collected Verse of Banjo Paterson edited by Clement Semmler, 1993;
Banjo Paterson: His Poetry and Prose compiled by Richard Hall, 1993;
The Penguin Book of Australian Ballads edited by Elizabeth Webby and Philip Butterrs, 1993;
The Romance of the Stockman: The Lore, Legend and Literature of Australia's Outback Heroes, 1993;
The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Verse compiled by Beatrice Davis, 1996;
Australian Verse: An Oxford Anthology edited by John Leonard 1998;
The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 January 2001;
Classic Australian Verse edited by Maggie Pinkney, 2001;
The Turning Wave: Poems and Songs of Irish Australia edited by Colleen Burke and Vincent Woods, 2001;
Our Country: Classic Australian Poetry: From the Colonial Ballads to Paterson & Lawson edited by Michael Cook, 2004;
The Bush Poems of A.B. (Banjo) Paterson by A.B. Paterson, 2008;
Harbour City Poems: Sydney in Verse, 1788-2008 edited by Martin Langford, 2009; and
The Puncher & Wattmann Anthology of Australian Poetry edited by John Leonard, 2009.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

My Mate Bill by Ironbark (G. Herbert Gibson)

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That's his saddle on the tie-beam, an' them's his spurs up there
On the wall-plate over yonder, you kin see's they ain't a pair.
The "daddy" of all the stockmen as ever come must'rin here --
Killed in the flamin' mallee, yardin' a scrub-bred steer!

They say as he's gone to Heaven, an' shook off his worldly cares,
But I can't sight Bill in a halo set up on three blinded hairs.
In Heaven! what next, I wonder, for strike me pink an' blue,
I savey what in thunder they'll find for Bill to do.

He'd never make one o' them angels with faces as white as chalk,
All wool to the toes, like hoggets, an' wings like a eagle 'awk;
He couldn't 'arp for apples, his voice 'as tones as jarred,
An' he'd no more ear than a bald-faced bull, or calves in a brandin'-yard.

He could sit on a buckin' brumbie like a nob in an easy cheer,
An' chop his name with a green-hide fall on the flank of flyin' steer,
He could show the saints in glory the way that a fall should drop,
But, sit on a throne? -- not William -- unless they could make it "prop."

If the Heav'nly hosts got "boxed" now, as mobs most always will,
Why, who'd cut 'em out like William, or draft on the camp like Bill?
An 'orseman 'ud find it awkward, at first, with a push that flew,
But, blame my cats, if I knows what else they'll find for Bill to do.

He mightn't freeze to the seraphs, or chum with the cherubim,
But if ever them seraph-johnnies get "pokin' it," like, at him,
Well if there's hide in Heaven, an' silk for to make a lash,
He'll yard the lot in the Jasper Lake in a blinded lightnin'-flash!

It's hard if there ain't no cattle, but p'raps they'll let him sleep,
An' wake him up at the Judgment for to draft then goats an' sheep.
It's playin' it low on William, but p'rhaps he'll buckle-to,
Just to show them high-toned seraphs what a mallee-man kin do.

If they saddles a big-boned angel -- with a turn o speed, of course --
As can spiel like a four-year brumbie, an prep like an old camp-horse,
If they puts Bill up with a snaffle, an' a four or five-inch spur,
An' eighteen foot o' green-hide for to chop the blinded fur,
He'll draft them blamed angoras in a way, it's safe to swear,
As'll make them toney seraphs sit back on their thrones an' stare.

First published
in The Bulletin, 28 October 1893 and in the same magazine on 23-30 December 1986;
and later in
The Sun (Kalgoorlie), 20 May 1900;
The Southern Cross Times, 1 December 1900;
Old Bush Songs: Composed and Sung in the Bushranging, Digging and Overlanding Days edited by A. B. "Banjo" Paterson, 1905;
Australian Bush Songs and Ballads edited by Will Lawson, 1944;
From the Ballads to Brennan edited by T. Inglis Moore, 1964;
Complete Book of Australian Folk Lore edited by Bill Scott, 1976;
Old Ballads from the Bush edited by Bill Scott, 1987; and
On the Track with Bill Bowyang: With Australian Bush Recitations edited by Dawn Anderson, 1991-1992.

Author reference site: Austlit

See also.

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