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Shearing (1911)

The woolshed doors, are open, and from its shadows ring
The sound of axe and cross-saw, of lusty hammering.
Across the grassy paddocks the musterers echoes come ;
And ringing strokes 'way down the flat tell where they fell the gum.
The huts are being peopled : men from the Western plain
Are greeting from the Eastern hills old pen-mates once again ;
And from the Southern mallee by many a weary track,
And from the blazing, burning North the men are coming back.
The darkness sees them round the fire where in the ruddy glow
They all are crimson ringers, or were, some time ago.

The whistle's shriek has sounded, and to the engine's beat
The driving wheels are singing a song of work and heat ;
The hand pieces are adding their chatter to the din,
And with a racking, raucous screech, the grinding discs join in.
Like foam on ocean beaches, the white wool flecks the floor,
The pickers-up like merry imps are dancing back and fore ;
The bins are filling with the spoil, and when it tops the rails,
The hungry press eats up its fill and spews it forth as bales ;
And all is rush and hurry -- hurry and rush that grows--
Till signalling the welcome spell, the smoke-oh whistle goes.

And so through days of stolid sun that makes the rousies fret,
With nerves all worn to ragged edge the shearers swear and sweat ;
They damn the ewes and hoggets; they blast the wriggling lambs,
From sires unto posterity they curse the old grey rams,
And if the fervent oaths have power to close the heavenly door,
The man who bred the flaming sheep is doomed for evermore.
But still they bend the aching back and still they force the pace,
And still the bleating woolly sheep are coming up the race ;
And still the grieving mobs depart like shattered corps in rout,
Until the tally figures show we nearly are cut-out.

And now the last are in the pens--along the grinning board
The same old funny gags are passed--the same old gigs are roared ;
The last old hairy cobbler is pinked with tender care
And guided gently down the shoot to join his comrades there.
And now all hands renew again the friendship of the start,
The work-engendered enmities are banished from each, heart,
And swags are rolled in company--free from the toil that galls--
From ringer to the small tar-boy they swear eternal pals,
With faces to the far Four Ways, their divers tracks are struck,
A hand grip and a deep heart wish; Good-bye, old man, Good Luck.



From the NSW Newspaper the Worker Wednesday 5 April 1911 p. 4.

From the N.S.W. Bookstall comes another Australian publication, "Scotty Mac, Shearer," by R. S. Tait.
There is a kind of preface in verse entitled "Shearing," and the remainder, of the book is devoted to
sketches of the big shearing sheds out-back. In each sketch "Scotty Mac." figures and at the end one
has conceived quito an affection for the sturdy, canny, true-hearted son of Scotland grafted on an
Australian soil. The pen portraits of his fellow sheerers, the cook, the boss of the board, the expert,
the wool-classer, have been drawn with a sympathetic hand, and the writer evidently knows his subject
well. The book is clean and healthy ln tone throughout, and the man out-back, at least, will hail with
joy the advent of "Scotty Mac." The book is being retailed at 1s a copy.

From the Grafton NSW Newspaper the Clarence and Richmond Examiner Tuesday 25 June 1912 p. 2.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory