Australian Folk Songs
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The Song Of The Ringer (1923)
Sweetest music to me is the whir of machines, As they're pulled into gear with a click,
And the bleating of sheep, as they race through the yards, And the harsh cry of "wool away, quick!"
And my spirit is fired with a fierce exultation. That kindles the blood in my veins,
When I meet a new rival, and note with keen pleasure, how every muscle he strains.
In herculean endeavor he tries to outpace me, resolved my endurance to test :
But no man ever handled a shearing machine who could conquer the "Gun of the West."
Oh what joy to respond to the unspoken challenge while tense muscles harden and swell
With our efforts, as faster we ply, the machines, in each heart the desire to excel,
Though tired limbs, back and loins ache with the strain, still our souls will not harbor defeat,
So we quail not, and foster the white fleeces fall like bright mantles of snow at our feet.
'Tis a race for the strong, soon the sluggards fall out, soon the weaklings lag, tired and distressed,
While the wool-rotors grumble, and growl, and all hands are as busy as ants on their nest.
Eager, nimble lads hurry with tar, to and fro, o'er the shearing floor slippery, with grease.
Or with brooms sweep the "bellies" find "locks" from our feet, others scamper away with the fleece.
Soon the bins overflow, with the wool we have cut, though the pressers work never so hard;
While the station hands, curses and yells till the air as they brand the shorn sheep in the yard.
E'en the woolpress complains like a thing in distress, and the penner up yodels and yells--
All in bustle, and soon to a mighty crescendo the tumult increasingly swells.
Ah! sweet music to me is the whir of machines as.they're pulled into gear with a click,
And the bleating of sheep, and the clank of the press, and the harsh, cry of "wool-away quick."
And whenever I go for a trip to the city, to seek recreation and rest,
Like sweet voices afar off, persistent they call me. and lure me again to the West,
For I love not the city, and fain would be free from its filth and its grime, and its smoke.
So I hasten away to the woolsheds apain, to the smell of the tar, and the yoke.
From the Queensland Newspaper the Northern Miner Monday 26 March 1923 p. 4.
australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory