The Man from Snowy River

I am Australian born and bred.

I grew up with the words of Banjo Paterson.

So it was no surprise that I fell in love with the movie The Man From Snowy River.

Jack Riley's grave at Corryong - he's thought to be the "Man from Snowy River" - Jack died in 1914

All poetry should be read aloud.

None more so than this poem.

As I read it – I cry.

As I listen to it – I cry.

ALWAYS

I’d love to hear what you think of this piece of pure Australian imagery.

So – watch the clip from the movie as an Australian accent  tells you the story of THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER.

And while you listen – read Banjo’s words.

The Man From Snowy River by A.B. Paterson (1890)

There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses – he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
And the stock-horse snuffs the battle with delight.
There was Harrison, who made his pile when Pardon won the cup,
The old man with his hair as white as snow;
But few could ride beside him when his blood was fairly up-
He would go wherever horse and man could go.
And Clancy of the Overflow came down to lend a hand,
No better horseman ever held the reins;
For never horse could throw him while the saddle girths would stand,
He learnt to ride while droving on the plains.
And one was there, a stripling on a small and weedy beast,
He was something like a racehorse undersized,
With a touch of Timor pony – three parts thoroughbred at least –
And such as are by mountain horsemen prized.
He was hard and tough and wiry – just the sort that won’t say die –
There was courage in his quick impatient tread;
And he bore the badge of gameness in his bright and fiery eye,
And the proud and lofty carriage of his head.
But so slight and weedy, one would doubt his power to stay,
And the old man said, “That horse will never do
For a long and tiring gallop-lad, you’d better stop away,
Those hills are far too rough for such as you.”
So he waited sad and wistful – only Clancy stood his friend –
“I think we ought to let him come,” he said;
“I warrant he’ll be with us when he’s wanted at the end,
For both his horse and he are mountain bred.”
“He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko’s side,
Where the hills are twice as steep and twice as rough,
Where a horse’s hoofs strike firelight from the flint stones every stride,
The man that holds his own is good enough.
And the Snowy River riders on the mountains make their home,
Where the river runs those giant hills between;
I have seen full many horsemen since I first commenced to roam,
But nowhere yet such horsemen have I seen.”
So he went – they found the horses by the big mimosa clump –
They raced away towards the mountain’s brow,
And the old man gave his orders, “Boys, go at them from the jump,
No use to try for fancy riding now.
And, Clancy, you must wheel them, try and wheel them to the right.
Ride boldly, lad, and never fear the spills,
For never yet was rider that could keep the mob in sight,
If once they gain the shelter of those hills.”
So Clancy rode to wheel them – he was racing on the wing
Where the best and boldest riders take their place,
And he raced his stockhorse past them, and he made the ranges ring
With stockwhip, as he met them face to face.
Then they halted for a moment, while he swung the dreaded lash,
But they saw their well-loved mountain full in view,
And they charged beneath the stockwhip with a sharp and sudden dash,
And off into the mountain scrub they flew.
Then fast the horsemen followed, where the gorges deep and black
Resounded to the thunder of their tread,
And the stockwhips woke the echoes, and they fiercely answered back
From cliffs and crags that beetled overhead.
And upward, ever upward, the wild horses held their sway,
Were mountain ash and kurrajong grew wide;
And the old man muttered fiercely, “We may bid the mob good day,
No man can hold them down the other side.”
When they reached the mountain’s summit, even Clancy took a pull,
It well might make the boldest hold their breath,
The wild hop scrub grew thickly, and the hidden ground was full
Of wombat holes, and any slip was death.
But the man from Snowy River let the pony have his head,
And he swung his stockwhip round and gave a cheer,
And he raced him down the mountain like a torrent down its bed,
While the others stood and watched in very fear.
He sent the flint stones flying, but the pony kept his feet,
He cleared the fallen timbers in his stride,
And the man from Snowy River never shifted in his seat –
It was grand to see that mountain horseman ride.
Through the stringybarks and saplings, on the rough and broken ground,
Down the hillside at a racing pace he went;
And he never drew the bridle till he landed safe and sound,
At the bottom of that terrible descent.
He was right among the horses as they climbed the further hill
And the watchers on the mountain standing mute,
Saw him ply the stockwhip fiercely, he was right among them still,
As he raced across the clearing in pursuit.
Then they lost him for a moment, where two mountain gullies met
In the ranges, but a final glimpse reveals
On a dim and distant hillside the wild horses racing yet,
With the man from Snowy River at their heels.
And he ran them single-handed till their sides were white with foam.
He followed like a bloodhound in their track,
Till they halted cowed and beaten, then he turned their heads for home,
And alone and unassisted brought them back.
But his hardy mountain pony he could scarcely raise a trot,
He was blood from hip to shoulder from the spur;
But his pluck was still undaunted, and his courage fiery hot,
For never yet was mountain horse a cur.
And down by Kosciusko, where the pine-clad ridges raise
Their torn and rugged battlements on high,
Where the air is clear as crystal, and the white stars fairly blaze
At midnight in the cold and frosty sky,
And where around The Overflow the reed beds sweep and sway
To the breezes, and the rolling plains are wide,
The man from Snowy River is a household word today,
And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.

***

Want more of the bard’s words – see Waltzing Mathilda and Mulga Bill’s Bicycle.

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Author: Jo Bryant

I was born in the land of Banjo Paterson, gum trees, and weather extremes. I am a freelance writer. I live in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, but still like to claim my Australian heritage. I graduated with a Bachelor of Communications in 2008. I am writing my first novel. I love to write poetry, short stories, and also write for the web. And there is nothing that is on a par with a sunny summer's day spent at Waihi Beach.

14 thoughts on “The Man from Snowy River”

    1. I am sooooooooooo glad you enjoyed it. My love affairs with the poem, the poet, and the movie have been operational for a long time, and I love it when someone else gets what they are about. 🙂

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  1. Jo, The Man From Snowy River is ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVS. .

    I thought my appreciation was already at its hilt. But your post takes it over–
    holding me spell bound in a magic moment that I thought would be impossible to live again.

    I mean the magic in the scene as he begins his plummet down the mountain.
    It is so awesome!! And the man reading the poem actually allows my mind to lengthen that moment!

    I’m babbling but hey, AWESOME, AWESOME MOMENT HERE! THANKS JO 🙂

    Like

    1. Awwwwwwwwww – Em – love it when you visit.

      I agree totally about THAT scene.
      I get a lump in my throat EVERY time I see it. I loved this video with the poem over the top.
      Oh how I wish I could have met Banjo.
      I shall just have to adore from afar…

      Like

  2. Well I just got quite an education today. I did not know before who was this Banjo you mentioned. The video with the poem is really cool and your right, reading it out loud is best, because I can hear the pride in his voice.

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    1. Please don’t tell me you have NEVER watched this movie – shame, shame. Banjo is like, my hero poet. He also wrote the words to Waltzing Mathilda – Australia’s unofficial anthem.

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      1. well, consider it in ‘soon to be watched’ status. I can however, humm the tune of waltzing mathilda. Gimme a week, Ill get uo to date. 🙂

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        1. Do so – just popped another video from another great horse movie up on the Captain’s blog under The Black Stallion which made me all mushy BTW. Realised I haven’t watched that one in a while so might do it again soon – such a great movie – and I love Viggo Mortensen.
          Doing another post on Banjo, and Waltzing Mathilda – great story that is.
          Oh – what the heck – I’ll pop it on here too.

          Like

    1. Well Madhu I just love educating people about my beloved Banjo !!!!! An my beloved Australia for that matter. You really should see the movie. I get all emotional just with the trailer. And the “ride”, well that causes a lump if not tears every time I see it.

      Like

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