Banjo, of the Overflow

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I had written him a letter which I had for want of better
Knowledge given to a partner by the name of "Greenhide Jack " --
He was shearing when I met him, and I thought perhaps I'd let him
Know that I was "stiff," and, maybe, he would send a trifle back.

My request was not requited, for an answer came indited
On a sheet of scented paper, in an ink of fancy blue;
And the envelope, I fancy, had an "Esquire" to the Clancy
And it simply read, "I'm busy; but I'll see what I can do!"

To the vision land I can go, and I often think of "Banjo" --
Of the boy I used to shepherd in the not so long ago,
He was not the bushman's kidney, and among the crowds of Sydney
He'll be more at home than mooning on the dreary Overflow.

He has clients now to fee him, and has friends to come and see him,
He can ride from morn to evening in the padded hansom cars,
And he sees the beauties blending where the throngs are never ending,
And at night the wond'rous women in the everlasting bars.

I am tired of reading prattle of the sweetly-lowing cattle
Stringing out across the open with the bushmen riding free;
I am sick at heart of roving up and down the country droving,
And of alternating damper with the salt-junk and the tea.

And from sleeping in the water on the droving trips I've caught a
Lively dose of rheumatism in my back and in my knee,
And in spite of verse it's certain that the sky's a leaky curtain --
It may suit the "Banjo" nicely, but it never suited me.

And the bush is very pretty when you view it from the city,
But it loses all its beauty when you face it "on the pad;"
And the wildernesses haunt you, and the plains extended daunt you,
Till at times you come to fancy that the life will drive you mad.

But I somehow often fancy that I'd rather not be Clancy,
That I'd like to be the "Banjo" where the people come and go,
When instead of framing curses I'd be writing charming verses --
Tho' I scarcely think he'd swap me, "Banjo, the Overflow".


  • Written by Francis Kenna
  • First Published: The Weekly Bulletin, 27 August 1892
  • Source: In The Days When The World Was Wide, And Other Stories, 1892

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1924. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).