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Clancy of the Overflow


Stepchook
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So it seems that Australia is in my blood. My uncle (paternal) was named "Clancy" after Banjo Paterson's Clancy of the Overflow. My paternal heritage finds itself immersed in Australian history, with my great-grandfather being a contemporary and personal friend of the legendary horseman, Harry "Breaker" Morant.

It was only since our decision to move to Australia, that my dad revealed the strong Australian heritage which runs through our blood. I've always loved reading Banjo Paterson's works, but I never realised that my uncle was named after one of Paterson's famed characters (who is also written about in The Man from Snowy River.

Here is 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 has 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 plain 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 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 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. Paterson

Edited for spelling

Edited by Pygmalion
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