I think the same was written with a thumb-nail dipped in tar

The Small Child has an oral assignment coming up… yes Grade Two and they have oral presentations every week on various topics such as ‘My Favourite Family Holiday’, ‘My Family’… good fun yes?  In a couple of week they have a topic of ‘An Australian song or poem’ which I took to be a golden opportunity to torture the Small Child with a poem that my Dad inflicted on me 🙂

He loved the Banjo Patterson poem – "Clancy of the Overflow".  Not sure why but he sure inflicted it on us often enough as kids but it came to be one of my favourite also (when it’s not being murdered by a seven year old).  So I decided why not?  The Small Child has to do an Australian song or poem so it seemed as good a time as any to learn it – and I’ve convinced him if he learns this one and learns it well… he could well avoid ever having to study another Australian poem for the rest of his school career!   Yes… he’s seven, so he’s gullible like that.

Problem is… in order to have him rote learn the poem I’ve now exposed myself to numerous awkward recitations until he gets it right.  Even the best laid plans of … Mums in this case, have their repercussions so I shall ‘Suck it up Princess’ before anyone even gets the chance to tell me to do so.   Though I resevere the right to inflict it on anyone else here so  – if you’re not familiar with the poem (ie – you’re a foreigner like Mr K) here ’tis….

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’s suit the office, Clancy, of The Overflow.
.

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