Australian Folk Songs

songs | books | records | articles | glossary | links | search | responses | home

The Shepherd's Lament (1869)
Tune Nora McShane

I left the old watch-box and hurdles behind me,
The damper, and salt-junk, and post-and-rail tea;
But I'm in here alone not a watch-dog is near me,
Faith I'm as wretched as wretched can be,
I sigh for the smoke-fire to hunt the mosquitos,
The short backy-pipe, and the straw-feather bed.
The old-soldier birds and the knowing old-man crows
That croaked in the morning while perched o'er my head.

I came to this town with a cheque like a blanket,
I cashed it, and then--why got on the spree,
Shouted grog for all hands, and of course they all drank it,
And left the pub score to be settled by me.
I got into a row, and a man in blue saw me,
Who moved me along to a house on the hill
Where I got small cell and a bed found me rent-free
And was left to myself to get quiet and still.

I was brought up next morning all shakey and sooty
Where his Worship was sitting in solemn array.
" 'Tis a hard case;" says he, "and I must do my duty,
I'll give you a fortnight, so take him away."
I'm here like a bandicoot chased by the dingos,
Oh ! what would I give to be out once again;
I'd go back to the watch-box, the dampers and stingo
And leave the town fine things in utter distain.


From the NSW newspaper the Gundagai Times Saturday 1 May 1869 p. 4.

The first verse of the Irish song Nora McShane goes:

I've left Ballymornach a long way behind me;
To better my fortune I've crossed the big sea;
But I'm sadly alone, not a creature to mind me,
And faith I'm as wretched as wretched can be.
I think of the buttermilk, fresh as the daisy.
The beautiful hills and the emerald plain,
And, oh! don't I oftentimes think myself crazy
About that young black-eyed rogue, Norah McShane.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory