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Banjo Patterson Research

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  • Pages: 7
  • Word count: 1622
  • Category: Poetry

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Andrew Barton Patterson; a poet, solicitor, journalist, war correspondent and soldier, was born at Narrambla near orange on the 17th of February 1864. Patterson was the eldest of seven children, under the guidance of his father who shared his own namesake and his mother Rose Isabella. When Andrew Patterson was seven, his family moved to illalong, it is in this area that Patterson developed his lifelong enthusiasm for horses and horsemanship, and in the future, the writing of his famous equestrian ballads. From the age of 10 after transferring from a bush school at Binalong, Patterson attended the Sydney grammar school, where he achieved the junior Knox prize at the age of 16. Patterson failed the University of Sydney’s scholarship exam and as a result he was admitted as a solicitor in 1886 and formed a legal partnership with John Street for 10 years up until 1889. Due to his grandmothers influence Patterson began publishing verses in the Bulletin under the alias ‘the banjo’.

By 1895 such ballads as ‘Clancy of the Overflow’, ‘The Geebung Polo Club’, ‘ The Man from Ironbark’, and ’ How the Favourite Beat Us and Saltbush Bill’ were so popular with readers that Angus & Robertson published the collection, The Man from Snowy River, and Other Verses, in October. In 1895 at the age of 31 Andrew Barton also composed his now famous ballad ‘Waltzing Matilda’ that would become one of Australia’s best known folk songs, and marked the declaration that Patterson was the second most popular poet in Australia. Patterson travelled to South Africa in 1899, as a special war correspondent to the Sydney morning Herald during the Boer war and during the Boxer rebellion in 1901. For nine months Patterson was in the thick of the fighting and his graphic accounts of the fighting include the surrender of Bloemfontein, the capture of Pretoria and the relief of Kimberly.

He wrote twelve ballads from his war experiences, the best known of which are ‘Johnny Boer’ and ‘With French to Kimberley’. After returning to Australia in the 1900, Patterson married Alice Emily in 1903, they settled in Woollahra, where their children grace and Hugh were born in the years 1904 and 1906. When World War 1 began Patterson immediately sailed for Europe, as a member of the AIF, in an unsuccessful attempt to cover the fighting in Flanders as a war correspondent. After returning from Europe he returned to journalism before retiring in 1930 when he was 66 years old. In 1939 he created CBE and he continued to write poetry until the time of his death on the 5th of February 1941. His works of poetry include seven volumes of poetry and proses composed in the collected verse of A.B Patterson (1923) and in a collection of Old bush songs (1905). Due to this reputation as the Principle folk poet of Australia Patterson is represented in Australian culture on the 10 dollar bill. Poem analysis

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 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 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’. Q1. What was your first impression of the poem?

Upon reading this poem, through the fast passed rhythm I came to visualise the drastic comparisons being made in relation to two completely contrasting environments. Patterson’s style of writing also conveyed the various emotions, associated with the longing for qualities associated with the beauty, tranquillity and laid back nature of the Australian bush environment. This led me to gain an appreciation for the unique nature of the Australian bush and the qualities associated with this life style in relation to that of city life. Q2. Summarise what the poem is about

‘Clancy of the overflow’ is an Australian ballad about a droving bushman and the imaginings of his rural lifestyle. This poem greatly romanticizes country life and shuns life in the city through the use of morbid imagery and a depressing atmosphere, contrasting to the lively and friendly atmosphere of rural life. This poem stands as a symbol of Australia national identity and makes positive connections between the lifestyle traditionally associated with Australia, compared to the more British influenced cities, which are portrayed symbolically as unliveable. This poem also expresses the jealousy of the city dweller towards the freedom and beauty associated with country life. Q3. What themes are covered in the poem?

The themes covered in this poem are the contrast between the rural and city lifestyle in Australia as well as the celebration of the beauty of the outback and the courage and spirit of its inhabitants. Q4. What appeals to you about this poem? Give examples

Numerous aspects of this poem greatly appeal to me including the poet’s ability to capture the general ‘feel’ of country life, its strong use of imagery and the overall musical and rhythmic nature of the poem. For instance the nature of the bush is captured through the use of descriptive words such as “sunlit plains”, “wondrous glory” “vision splendid” and the phrase “murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars”. This poem has a rhyming stanza of ABCB and creates through its flowing verses, its long pattering lines and internal rhymes, a truly musical appeal. Q5. What are the poems reasons for writing this poem? Give examples to support your views. Banjo Patterson wrote ‘Clancy of the overflow’ to Romanticise all aspects of rural life, and to reflect the themes mentioned in Q3. The contrast between rural and city life is shown through the phrases, “For the drover’s life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.” This binary opposition is also shown through the contrasting words ‘my dingy little office’ in relation to the ‘wondrous glory of the everlasting stars.’

The different emotions associated with the two environments is exemplified throughout the poem in the phrase ‘And the bush hath friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him’ compared to the unpleasant an arrogant emotions shown in ‘And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting.’ The poem also displays the wish of city dwellers to slow down their lives to the pace of the country and the freedom that it brings. Q6. Identify three poetic techniques used in the poem and support them with quotes. In this poem Banjo uses a variety of poetic devices to get his message across like the use of Binary opposition, descriptive language and personification. For instance in the poem portrays the favourability of city life through the binary opposition of the two environments, this is especially portrayed through the characteristics of these two lifestyles that are highlighted throughout the poem.

The phrase ‘And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me’ is presenting the haunting nature of the city dwellers and their lifestyle due to the fact that they are so caught up in the infinite rush and never-ending continuity of life. In opposition the country lifestyle is depicted through the phase focus on the earth’s natural beauty and the fact that Clancy watches ‘the seasons come and go’ indicates a laid and relaxing environment. The favourability of country life is also depicted in the sentence ‘And the bush hath friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him’ that uses personification to display the human qualities of the bush and how it is regarded deeply in our hearts as an internal part of our lives. This is greatly contrasted to the phrase ‘Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall’ that through personification shows the struggling hard and unpleasant nature of city life.

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