Australian Folk Songs

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The Man With The Shears (1904)
--E.J.B. in Worker.

The sun on the harbor is dancing, the
smoke o'er the city lies still,
There is green on the parks and the gardens,
and blue on the far-overhill;
They have slung off the hatches with
laughter, and fitted the fall to the sheave,
And the donkeyman's hand at the lever is
waiting the order to heave !

There's wool at the shipside, my sonnies,
brown bales of our staple, the fleece;
And wherever there's wool you'll find three things
--that's yakker, and curses, and grease.
The trucks at the goods sheds are waiting
for lorries and men it appears--
But I think of the West and the Wayback,
the boys in the sheds with the shears.

And over the clatter of winches,
the clang and the shout of the store ;
I can hear the blades click-a-clicking out
westward and northward once more;
I can see thro' the heat shimmer
rising the dust from far journeying hoofs,
And right at the edge of the timber
the glint of the sun on the roofs.

The sheds and the tanks and the shadows,
the smoke from the camps lifting gray,
And a tinkle metallic of horse bells dying
out into distance away.
They fall thro' my mystic enchantment,
the voices of memoried years--
The shouts and the laughter of comrades,
the men on the board with the shears.

The harborside shrieks its loud noises, the
city is strident with life,
But for me there is ever a vision;
away from the crush and the strife,
I behold the brown plains rolling onward,
and sweetly there rings in my ears,
The sound of the blades click-click-clicking,
the Song of the Men with the Shears.

Oh, Westland and Northland, I know ye,
the call of the river and plain,
The mud baking dry in the gilgas, the
gilgas all fresh with the rain--;
Oh, soft is the song of my Vision ! Oh,
sweet are the Dreams of the years,
When we camped it and tramped it together
--the men on the board with the shears !


From the Hobart newspaper the Clipper Saturday 17 December 1904 p. 1.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory