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The Shearer's Song (1939)

Just sing the following to the old song, "Ring the Bell, Watchman."

Down by the catching pen the old shearer stands,
Grasping his shears in his thin, bony hands,
Fixed is his gaze on a bare-bellied ewe,
Saying, "If I can get her, won't I make the ringer go."

Click goes his shears, boys, click, click, click,
Wide are his blows and his hand moves quick,
The "ringer" looks around, he's lost it by a blow,
He curses the old shearer and the bare-bellied ewe.

In the middle of the floor in his cane-bottomed chair,
Is the boss of the board, with his eyes everywhere ;
Notes well each fleece as it comes to the screen,
Pays strict attention, too, if taken off clean.

Click goes his shears, boys, click, click, click
Wide are his blows and his hand moves quick,
The old shearer's on with another old ewe,
If he hits the "ringer" this time, Lord, won't he blow!

The colonial experience man, he is there, of course,
With his silver-buckled leggings, just got off his horse,
Casting his eye like a real connoisseur,
Whistling the old melody, "I am the Perfect Lure."

Now, Mister "Newchum," just to begin,
Muster No. 7 run and bring the sheep all in,
Leave none behind you, whatever you may do,
And then we may consider you will make a jackeroo.

The tar-boy is there, waiting in demand,
With his black tarry pot and his black tarry hands,
Sees one old sheep with a cut on the back,
Hears what he is waiting for: "Tar here, Jack!"

Tar here! Tar-boy! Tar is heard,
Right from one end to the other of the board,
Jack looks around, he has not time to sleep,
So he taps the shearer's pantaloons as well as the sheep;

Down by the bar the old shearer stands,
Grasping his glass in his thin bony hands,
Fixed is his gaze on a green painted keg,
Saying, "I'll lower its contents ere I stir a peg."

Come along, landlord! Come along, come!
I'm shouting for all hands with some good old miners' run.
He chucks down his cheque, which is collared in a crack,
The landlord takes his pen and writes "No mercy," on the back,

There we leave him standing, shouting for all hands,
Whilst all around him every ragged "shooler" stands,
His eyes are on the cask, which now is lowering fast,
He works hard! He drinks hard! And goes to hell at last!

Chorus of first verse.


From the NSW newspaper the Wellington Times Thursday 21 December 1939 p. 9.

(By Bob Porter, The Wayback Tonsorial Artist).

A happy and prosperous Xmas and New Year to all. "Peace on earth and good will to men."
Liberty for all. Good people will not keep birds in cages or captivity, or a poor dog continually chained up or in captivity.
Well, times are hard, money is scarce. Poverty is no disgrace, and my mother never raised a squib.

So here we are again in N.S.W.,
shearing sheep as big as whales;
woolly backs and stumpy tails;
three cheers for New South Wales.

A variant of this was published in the Sydney newspaper the World's News in September 1939. The first version of the song was titled The Bare-Belled Ewe and was published in 1891 and then stayed hidden till June 2013.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory