"Let the pony have his head" - Celebrating Australia Day - 26th January
January 25, 2010 4:29am CST
"The Man from Snowy River" is possibly one of the best known Aussie poems, written by AB “Banjo” Paterson 1864-1941. I find this poem very rich in lessons for all of us. A bit of background for the poem, to whet your appetite: A colt, the offspring of a champion and worth a small fortune, had escaped and gone off with the wild horses. All the top horsemen gathered to retrieve the colt, including Clancy of the Overflow - the BEST horseman who ever held reins. Along with the other champion riders, comes a man from Snowy River, on a “weed” of a pony. He is ridiculed and told this is not a job for him, but Clancy speaks up for him and he rides. Clancy leads the chase, but the wild horses beat them to the mountains and we see all the riders gathered on the crest - “When they reached the mountain's summit, even Clancy took a pull, It well might make the boldest hold their breath” Even Clancy - the champion - pulled back on the reins. No one could make that descent! Fear overtook them all. They were ready to give up. [i]“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”[/i] I hope you enjoy this poem as much as we Aussies do and I hope you can relate to it the way I do. Here we have “experts” looking at the difficulties, being fearful, and being stopped in their tracks because of their fear. THEY couldn’t do it. Then we have one person who “let the pony have his head”. We see he “never shifted in his seat”. He didn’t try to steer the horse over the obstacles or round the pot holes. He let the pony be in charge and run his own course. He succeeded. I am sure all of us can relate to times we have faced difficulties and what may have seemed an insurmountable obstacle. We have listened to the knockers. We have been paralysed with fear and stopped from acting. Yet I believe that within each of us there are untapped resources, which, if put into action, will take us beyond our imaginations. How do you face obstacles? Do you shrink in fear? Do you listen to the scoffers who say it can't be done? Or do you tackle the job and win? Share your experiences. Read about the man from Snowy River and be inspired. Did you see the movie? What were your impressions? THE MAN FROM SNOWY RIVER 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 stockhorse 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 still so slight and weedy, one would doubt his power to stay, And the old man said, "That horse will never do For a long n 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 the 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 way, Where 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. [b]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[/b]. He sent the flint stones flying, but the pony kept his feet, He cleared the fallen timber 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 on 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.
3 people like this
27 Jan 10
I recommend the movie Gaby. I think you'd enjoy it. You are a fighter and have been for many years. You have met many obstacles. Some of them may have been dodged, but lately you have met them head on, and come out the victor. YOU are a champion!
• Holiday, Florida
25 Jan 10
Well, sorry to say i didnt read every word as i did get the gist of it it was quite long. anyway, yes i watched parts of the movie while the kids watched it. but my favorite movie set in Australia is "Quincy Down under" Now thats a really good movie and story have you seen that one? hope you have a great Aussie Day
• United States
25 Jan 10
I didn't know it was a poem. I just saw the two movies, The Man From Snowy River and Return to Snowy River. Those two movies ignited a long affection my sister had for Sigrid Thornton. My whole family liked the movies. I learn something new every day. I really like the poem, so thank you for posting it.
• Gold Coast, Australia
25 Jan 10
Wow, thanks for sharing that. It was great to read the poem again. I had not heard the whole thing for many years! I have seen the film, but also not for a very long time. It would be great to find it and watch it again with my kids. I do not know if they are familiar with the story or not. The poem popped into my head a few weeks ago actually as I was visiting the Snowy Mountains for the first time. I had crossed near the mouth of the Snowy River a few days earlier at Orbost in Victoria where my father in law lives. I had seen that part of the river many times and been to where it meets the sea at Marlo, but had never seen it at it's origins in the mountains. Well this trip I did, as we caught the chairlift up the mountain from Thredbo and walked to the summit of Australia's highest peak, MT Koszciusko. The path crosses many tiny bubbling streams which join together to form the start of the Snowy River. It was here that I started reciting The Man From Snowy River in my head, but could not remember much!
25 Jan 10
[i]And the next week the man from Snowy River again tore off down the hill, stood in a rabbit hole and broke both their necks. And Clancy watched them go down and said 'Silly barstard'[/i] Haha. Good poem of derring do and of the stuff that made Australia great. Have a great Australia Day.