ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

A. B. "Banjo" Paterson's "Clancy of the Overflow"

Updated on October 8, 2017
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

Poetry became my passion, after I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa 1962.

Banjo Paterson



A city-dweller imagines what his life would be like if he could trade places with a drover (cowboy) in the outback.

The speaker in A. B. "Banjo" Paterson's "Clancy of the Overflow" is a city-dweller, who thinks he would like to change his life and become a cowboy in the outback. The speaker was prompted to dramatize and romanticize that life after he met a chap named Clancy.

First Stanza: "I had written him a letter which I had, for want of better"

The speaker reports that he wrote a letter to Clancy with simple address, "Clancy, of the Overflow." The speaker had met Clancy while the latter was shearing sheep.

Second Stanza: "And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected"

The speaker receives a response to his letter that revealed no one knew where Clancy was at present, although he had gone to Queensland droving. The speaker adds the colorful detail that the letter appeared to have been "written with thumb-nail dipped in tar."

Third Stanza: "In my wild erratic fancy, visions come to me of Clancy"

The speaker then begins his wild erratic fancy, envisioning Clancy driving his herd singing and enjoying pleasure that the townsfolk never know.

Fourth Stanza: "And the bush has friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him"

The speaker imagines Clancy with his friends who greet him with their kindly voices. He hears the murmur of the breezes. He sees a beautiful river and observes the splendor of the sunlit plain extended. And, of course, Clancy enjoys seeing "the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars." All of these natural beauties elude the city-dweller.

Fifth Stanza: "I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy"

The city-dwelling speaker then plainly bemoans his own lot: He sits in his dingy little office where only a sliver of sunlight is able to penetrate. The air is polluted and floats into the office through the window, "spread[ing] its foulness over all."

Sixth Stanza: "And in place of lowing cattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle"

Instead of Clancy's pleasant sounds of lowing cattle, the poor speaker's ears are accosted by "the fiendish rattle / Of the tramways and the buses." He also must endure hearing the foul language of children fighting in the streets. And there is "the ceaseless tramp of feet."

Seventh Stanza: "And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me"

So many people hurrying here and there, their "pallid faces haunt" the speaker. They seem to be stuffed into the small space of the city as they shoulder one another in the rush and nervous haste. He decries that "the townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste."

Eighth Stanza: "And I somehow rather fancy that I'd like to change with Clancy"

Finally, the speaker admits that he prefers to believe that he would like to change places with Clancy. The speaker would like be out there herding those animals in the outback "where the seasons come and go." He would like to let Clancy do his cash-book work, but he figures that job would probably not be well suited to the outback cowboy.

Reading of Paterson's "Clancy of the Overflow"

© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes


Submit a Comment
  • Maya Shedd Temple profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Sue Grimes 

    2 years ago from U.S.A.

    Thanks, John. I look forward to checking out your Hub. Yes, Banjo has a way with a good yarn in verse.

  • Jodah profile image

    John Hansen 

    2 years ago from Queensland Australia

    Linda, A.B. "Banjo" Paterson is my favourite poet and this, of course, is one of my favourite poems. I have written a hub about him. I enjoyed this.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)