Clancy of the Overflow

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Clancy of the Overflow 
by Banjo Paterson
Written 1889
First published in The Bulletin
Country Australia
Language English
Publication date 21 December 1889
Read online Clancy of the Overflow at Wikisource

"Clancy of the Overflow" is a poem by Banjo Paterson, first published in The Bulletin, an Australian news magazine, on 21 December 1889. The poem is typical of Paterson, offering a romantic view of rural life, and is one of his best-known works.


The poem is written from the point of view of a city-dweller who once met the title character, a shearer and drover, and now envies the imagined pleasures of Clancy's lifestyle, which he compares favourably to life in "the dusty, dirty city" and "the round eternal of the cashbook and the journal".

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.

The title comes from the address of a letter the city-dweller sends, "The Overflow" being the name of the sheep station where Clancy was working when they met.

The poem is possibly based on Paterson's own experience.[1] The introduction to Banjo Paterson's Images of Australia by Douglas Baglin[2] quotes Paterson as saying that he was working as a lawyer when someone asked him to send a letter to a man named Thomas Gerald Clancy, asking for a payment that had not been received. Paterson sent the letter to "The Overflow", a sheep station 100 kilometres south-west of Nyngan, and received a reply that read:

Clancy's gone to Queensland droving and we don't know where he are

The letter looked as though it had been written with a thumbnail dipped in tar and it is from this that Banjo Paterson found the inspiration for the poem, along with the meter.

The poem was well-received and raised much curiosity about the identity of "The Banjo". Soon after its publication, Rolf Boldrewood, author of Robbery Under Arms (1882), wrote in his literary column for The Australasian that "Clancy of the Overflow" was "the best bush ballad since Gordon".[3]

Clancy makes a cameo appearance in another popular Banjo Paterson poem, "The Man from Snowy River", which was first published the following year.

In 1897, Thomas Gerald Clancy wrote a poem in reply to "Clancy of the Overflow", entitled "Clancy's Reply", which paints a far less romantic picture of the life of a drover.[4][1]

In other media[edit]

Clancy was portrayed by Jack Thompson in the movie The Man from Snowy River, and Clancy is mentioned in the musical theatre production The Man from Snowy River: Arena Spectacular – during the recitation of the poem, Clancy is mentioned by Steve Bisley in his role of Banjo Paterson while the poem is being re-enacted in the show.

Contemporary recordings of the poem include Jack Thompson's recitation on Jack Thompson, The Bush Poems of A.B. (Banjo) Paterson, 2008 and Jack Thompson, Favourite Australian Poems, Fine Poets Collection Volume 5, 2010.[5]

The poem "Clancy of the Overflow" has also been set to music and recorded several times, including:

Proposed film[edit]

In 2004 there were plans to make a movie of "Clancy of the Overflow", a sequel to the 1982 film The Man from Snowy River, but this fell through due to financial reasons. The director was to have been Simon Wincer, who was a co-producer for The Man from Snowy River.[8] Bruce Rowland (who composed the music for both the 1982 film The Man from Snowy River and its 1988 sequel film The Man from Snowy River II (USA title: Return to Snowy River), as well as composing music for The Man from Snowy River: Arena Spectacular, was to compose the music for the film. The film was to have been funded by private investors, but the A$22 million minimum investment was not met by the deadline of June 2004, and the film has been shelved indefinitely.[9]


  1. ^ a b "Was Clancy of the Overflow a real person?". Radio National. Aujstralian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2016-04-11. 
  2. ^ Baglin, Douglass (1985). Banjo Paterson's Images of Australia. French's Forest (Sydney): Reed Books. ISBN 0730101002. 
  3. ^ The Australasian, 8 January 1890.
  4. ^ "Clancy's Reply" by Thomas Gerald Clancy
  5. ^ Jack Thompson, The Bush Poems of A.B. (Banjo) Paterson, 2008, Fine Poets, accessed 12 May 2011
  6. ^ "Wallis and Matilda". Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  7. ^ "Under an Australian sky [sound recording] / Tenor Australis. – Version details". Trove (National Library of Australia). Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  8. ^ "Simon heads for the Overflow" by Garry Maddox, The Sydney Morning Herald (1 April 2004)
  9. ^ "Clancy film falls at first hurdle" by Philippa Hawker, The Age (1 July 2004)

External links[edit]