Clancy of the Overflow – Banjo Paterson

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 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.
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 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".
Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson (1864 - 1941)

Lachlan – a river in New South Wales
Overflow – the name of a sheep and cattle station in central New South Wales
droving – to move sheep or cattle long distances by walking them
Cooper – refers to the Cooper Basin a geological region in south-western Queensland and north-eastern South Australia.
stringing – the spreading out of animals in single-file as they walked.
Bush – Australians refer to any part of the country outside the major cities and towns as ‘the bush’. And there are truly vast areas of bush in Australia.

Banjo Paterson is monumental in early Australian bush poetry. This was his first poem to be published in the Bulletin Magazine in 1889 and was an immediate success. Many bush ballads abound depicting early Australian settlement and the hardship of establishing life in the severe environment. This poem does romanticize the life of the drover; a person on horseback moving cattle.

And today life in the City is compared with life in the Country by those wishing to move away from City life in such popular TV Programs as ‘Escape to the Country’.


Apparently, the poem was based on a chance experience when he sent a letter to a man named ‘Clancy‘ at a sheep station (ranch) named ‘Overflow’. The short simple reply ‘Clancy’s gone to Queensland droving, and we don’t know where he are’ inspired Paterson to create ‘Clancy of the Overflow’. This poem has become well known throughout Australian and is often included in school literature.


Here is some historical detail from the Internet where there is plenty of material …

Andrew Barton Paterson was born on the 17th February 1864 on the property called Narambla, New South Wales. His Father, Andrew a Scottish farmer from Lanarkshire. Young Andrew spent his formative years living at a station called “Buckenbah’ in the western districts of New South Wales. The land was unfenced; Dingo infested and was leased by his Father and Uncle from the Crown for a few pennies an acre.

His career as a journalist is well documented. His despatches from the Boer War and later the Boxer Rebellion in China were to provide invaluable details of the hardships of the men he travelled with. He travelled to London at the invitation of Rudyard Kipling and returned to Sydney in 1902. Later that year he travelled to Tenterfield NSW where he was to meet Alice Walker whom he was later to marry.

His home base was Binalong a rural community near Yass, NSW. And from the Banjo Paterson Statue in a Park of the same name in Yass you will see that ‘Banjo’ was the name of a favourite horse which he used as a pseudonym for his writing. And he is very well known for another famous poem ‘The Man from Snowy River’ .

Andrew Barton (Banjo) Paterson on Wikipedia.

Skinnydipping – Murray Hartlin – Humour

The problem with humour in short poems is that poetic structure is often ignored, but not so in the following poem which has nice rhyme and flowing rhythm. And, of course, many short poems are dependent on the last line for a twist to generate a smile. And often, like a joke, once you have heard it you seldom want to read it again as all impact dissipates. Well, you might want to share with a few friends until it recedes from the mind. And many say ‘I can’t remember jokes’ and many jokes are not worth remembering.

But I do like the repartee developed in the last two lines of this poem, so here it is …

Skinnydipping
The temperature was soaring, the sun was beating down,
Matt walked by the river the other side of town.
He had a look around and there was no-one there but him,
So he ripped off all his clothes and jumped in for a swim.
The water cooled his sweaty hide, he swam and splashed all about,
He felt a whole lot better and he started to get out.
He headed for his clothes and was reaching for his jocks,
When two young girls came walking from behind a pile of rocks.
Matty quickly grabbed his hat and covered up his front
The girls just stood and giggled, so Matt became quite blunt.
‘If you two girls were ladies, you’d turn around’ said Matt.
'And if you, sir, were a gentleman, ‘you’d bow and raise your hat!’
Murray Hartlin (

Taken from ‘An Australian Heritage of Verse’ by Jim Haynes. Murray Hartlin is an Australian bush poet, author and entertainer. He likes a good yarn! Here is a link to his website.

Three elements of Hebrew Poetry – Poetry Creation

Looking at Old Testament poetry. It doesn’t use rhyme and meter but uses other poetic devices. There are three main types of ancient Hebrew poetry. These are discussed below –

Synonymous Poetry – two lines that say nearly the same thing but want to stress what is being said. For example this is common in the Psalms as in

Psalm 19:1
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Antithetical poetry is the opposite – it uses successive lines to say two different things, each relative to the same theme. You’ll not only find this in Psalms, but all over the Book of Proverbs, such as –

Proverbs 17:22 –
A cheerful heart is good like medicine
But a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Synthetic Poetry uses successive lines to build to a point, systematically showing or convincing the reader. Here is an example from Psalm 139 verses 1-6 …

O Lord, you have searched me and know me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

You can use these techniques in your own personal poetry creation. And of course you can include rhyme and meter too.

Reference – more details can be found on this site … https://mysonginthenight.com/songwriting/how-to-write-a-personal-psalm/

Suzanne – Leonard Cohen – Lyrics – Analysis

Suzanne

Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river
You can hear the boats go by
You can spend the night beside her
And you know that she’s half crazy
But that’s why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from China
And just when you mean to tell her
That you have no love to give her
Then she gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer
That you’ve always been her lover
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that she will trust you
For you’ve touched her perfect body with your mind.

And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said “All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them”
But he himself was broken
Long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human
He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone

And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
And you think maybe you’ll trust him
For he’s touched your perfect body with his mind.

Now Suzanne takes your hand
And she leads you to the river
She is wearing rags and feathers
From Salvation Army counters
And the sun pours down like honey
On our lady of the harbour
And she shows you where to look
Among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed
There are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love
And they will lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds the mirror
And you want to travel with her
And you want to travel blind
And you know that you can trust her
For she’s touched your perfect body with her mind.

Leonard Cohen (1933 – 2016)

This song was written by Leonard Cohen and recorded by quite a few artists including Judy Collins. He relinquished all rights when he inadvertently signed a contract without reading the detail, so he never made any money from his creation. He said that this was fitting in that he did not want to make money out of this personal love text.

This is all to do with poetry and lyrics and the way they intertwine. The music adds the dimension to the words. I have broken the lyrics up into three sections to consider the words. It is up to the reader of any lyrics to consider the poetic merit.

Well it is all to do with Cohen’s relationship with Suzanne Verdal while he lived in Montreal. He used to walk by Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, where sailors were blessed before heading out to sea.

In general, the poem is all about personal idealization of both his friend Suzanne or any woman and later a reference to Jesus. The Suzanne personal interaction involves tea and oranges and we have the feeling that she is quite unusual and bohemian and a much-male-loved character in the city.

Section 1 … well the key point is the meeting of wavelengths … the strength of love that joins in such a communion is clearly metaphorically  evident in the words –  she lets the river answer / That you’ve always been her lover. And the joy of that unison gives trust and blind adherence. In his mind she is perfect. The emphasis is on mind.

Section 2 … I find this a remarkably interesting side step for we have an idealization of Jesus with reference to sailors. This is appropriate considering the Montreal context. And Jesus was of course broken up in many ways including the sin-problem of humanity and the cross. But Jesus is often regarded as a savior and a repair of imperfection so he may see Cohen as perfect – for he’s touched your perfect body with his mind. And this union may be like the idealization of Suzanne and he may likewise give blind adherence.

Section 3 Suzanne takes Cohen on a journey of places not so nice perhaps, but he still wants to travel with her – And she shows you where to look / Among the garbage and the flowers. Children, the future, are looking for love and Suzanne says that that future is in the mirror – while Suzanne holds the mirror facing Cohen – in other words it is up to Cohen. And she like Jesus – has touched his perfect body with her mind.

What a nice thought to have a perfect body!

Here is a link to Leonard Cohen singing this on You Tube

Contrast – Emily Dickinson

Here is a simple poem from Emily Dickinson to illustrate the effective use of contrast in poetry creation.

Contrast

A door just opened on a street –
I, lost, was passing by –
and instant’s width of warmth disclosed,
and wealth, and company.

The door as sudden shut, and I,
I, lost, was passing by, –
Lost doubly, but by contrast most,
Enlightening misery.

Emily Dickinson

To be lost walking the streets … on a cold winters night say, is something easily identified by many. I remember being in this position in London many years ago. But I never experienced the sudden surprise instant open-close of a door to reveal heavenly warmth, friendly company, and wealth. We can image the home to be rather nice in a well to-do-area of the city. Width is so well chosen providing alliteration.

The contrast in feelings is quite striking especially if we assume a party of great warmth and fun to be taking place, all be-it in our imagination. And we identify with the lost soul in the cold struggling on to find their whereabouts – their misery enlightened. I like the double use of that last word comparing the street with the inside of the briefly revealed brightness of the home.

Contrast is a rhetorical device through which writers identify differences between two subjects, places, persons, things, or ideas. Simply, it is a type of opposition between two objects, highlighted to emphasize their differences. Contrast comes from the Latin word, contra stare, meaning to stand against.

The Second Coming – W. B. Yeats – comments

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Willian Butler Yeats (1885 – 1939)

Gyre – large spiral circular motion
Spiritus Mundi – the spirit or collective soul of the universe

S1 … not a very cheerful viewing of a world in change! … in chaotic change … I guess the virus and the rising of social networking has challenged the establishment in all its inadequacies … so those of a depressive pessimistic nature might say we are all doomed!

S2 … well, here we have the reason for the doom … the second coming (written in 2019) … different from the first … the beast is arising out of the desert like a great ancient Egyptian monument coming to life … and the dark side of humanity dominates … personified in the waking of an ancient relic … its hour come round at last.

Things falling apart has attracted the public to this well known poem … see this article  – from The Guardian

Of course I don’t believe that we are all doomed and that our darker side will take control and chaos will reign supreme. Incidentally, it all started with chaos according to the Greeks … so it would be complete full circle … and back to step one

We each control our own destiny and the upheaval being experienced is a world wide sensitivity that change is needed and a better world wanted by all and for all … so hopefully this will occur … in due time …

The Australian bush fires were truly apocalyptic but they have come and gone and recovery can be seen as expressed in the image and words below … and I am sure that the world as a whole will march triumphantly in time for all to enjoy in new leaf …

TreeRecovery

Australian bush 3 months after the fires – North Durras NSW

notwithstanding the summer fury
and the devastation of environment
bearded black faces show a green future
a bird is singing unseen
recovery

W. B. Yeats on Wikipedia

Eavan Boland – Tribute – ‘And Soul’

 

Irish poet Eavan Boland died at the end of April at the age of 75 from a stroke. Born in Dublin in 1944, Eavan Boland is one of the foremost female voices in Irish literature. She created a much needed female balance to Irish poetry on the same level as Yeats and Heaney.

She was known for documenting women’s lives, including their domestic lives. Her work covered the role of women in Irish history and culture. She received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Irish Book Awards in 2017 for what was described as her art, her eloquence and her stalwart advocacy for poetry.

Her first collection of poems was published when she was still a student and she went on to have a long career as a poet, editor and teacher. In recent years, she divided her time between Ireland the US. She was Professor of English and director of the creative writing programme at Stanford University.

For more information

A link to a tribute to Eavan Boland

A link to Wikipedia


I have chosen the following poem because it reflects her love of Dublin and gives her personal thoughts as she drove through wet weather to visit her dying mother. The Liffey is the river that flows through Dublin.

And Soul

My mother died one summer –
the wettest in the records of the state.
Crops rotted in the west.
Checked tablecloths dissolved in back gardens.
Empty deckchairs collected rain.
As I took my way to her
through traffic, through lilacs dripping blackly
behind houses
and on curbsides, to pay her
the last tribute of a daughter, I thought of something
I remembered
I heard once, that the body is, or is
said to be, almost all water and as I turned southward, that ours is a
city of it,
one in which
every single day the elements begin
a journey towards each other that will never,
given our weather,
fail –
the ocean visible in the edges cut by it,
cloud colour reaching into air,
the Liffey storing one and summoning the other,
salt greeting the lack of it at the North Wall and,
as if that wasn’t enough, all of it
ending up almost every evening
inside our speech –
coast canal ocean river stream and now
mother and I drove on and although
the mind is unreliable in grief, at
the next cloudburst, it almost seemed
they could be shades of each other,
the way the body is
of every one of them and now
they were on the move again – fog into mist,
mist into sea spray and both into the oily glaze
that lay on the railings of
the house she was dying in
as I went inside.

Eavan Boland (1944 – 2020)

Quite clearly it is a soaking wet city and enforces the Ireland rain connection to the mind. But it does give a shadowy grey dismal emotive background associated with pending death.

It is interesting for it is almost as if she connects the unending rain with her mother as if there is a transference or absorption – ‘it almost seems they could be the shades of each other, / the way the body is’. This reflection is readily accessible by the reader and her thoughts obviously dominated by having to journey through the city in wet weather and it being the wettest summer ever.

The title ‘And Soul’ is thought provoking. My thoughts are that ‘soul’ is always secondary and latent, if you like behind everything and in this case very much behind this personal experience when driving in the rain. 

This poem contrasts with my previous Post of Wallace Steven’s poem ‘The Snow Man’ where a different transference is involved and where words need much thought.

RIP – absorbed in Ireland beautiful.

Easter Sunday Sunrise

Easter Sunday Sunrise

not just another day
another day of the same
of the no touch of distancing
of not being able to reach out in the community
of confinement to self
of being centered on the inside
not just another day
no!

this day is different
this day is the one day
the one day that opens into every day
the lifeline to eternal tomorrows
as our own tomorrow ending
is contemplated

Richard Scutter

Celebrate this special day with friends and family!