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The Shearing Of Murky Dan (1911)

They were camped on the edge of McClosky's run,
With the Barcoo full in view,
As men of the West have often done--
And further, will often do--
When their pockets are empty, and cheques have fled
Over the shanty bar;
While their heads are regaining their normal size,
They skite of tallies--most awful lies--
Gathered from near and far.

And there wandered into their midst one day
A man--and a dandy at that--
Whose tarry ringlets, in fierce array,
Had over-grown his hat.
He was known to the world as Murky Dan,
And, as they bade him " Good day "
He remarked: " Maybe, someone, perhaps,
Would cut my hair ; if you will then, chaps,
I'll be thankful, anyway."

Then Bill, the ringer, steps to the fore,
With " I'm" yer Moses, old man;--
From the East to the West old chap, I've shore
As only a ringer can.
So, after feed-time we gathered round
To watch the stranger moult.
While. Bill was putting an edge on his shears,
Young Barney was calming the visitor's fears--
He seemed inclined to bolt.

Then Murky spoke: "Not too close, I beg."
And his voice was full of fear ;
But Bill gripped firmly his off-side leg,
And slipped a hold on his rear.
He turned his head with a vigorous twist,
While Murky continued to spar--
Then. her split the air with a yell of pain
For Bill had punctured the skin again,
And was yelling aloud for " tar, " !

Now Bill would apply the strangle-holt,
Now Murky would wriggle free ;
While the crowd went mad at each hook and holt,
And split the air with glee.
The blood flowed free from many a wound
As Dan in his anger roared,
While Bill jui-jitsued, cursed, and chopped ;
'Twas the toughest problem he ever copped
On any shearing-board.

Now up, now down his shears Bill plied
With vigorous might and main,
While Dan alternately cursed and cried
To the Lord to spare him from pain.
There were men who had travelled half their lives
From the Gulf to the big Barcoo,
Who shrieked while the tears down their faces streamed--
'Twas the funniest shearing they'd ever seen
Or ever, expected to.

Bill loosens his hold--he had finished at last--
And he views his work with a smile,
While Dan bolts away for a looking-glass,
Still cursing all the while.
His brow grows dark as he gets a view
Of his scalp, of its locks bereft
Then remarks, as he brushes the hair from his clothes ;
"I ought to be thankful, I suppose,
My blooming head is left."

And out and away where the big guns shear,
At night, when the board is still,
The boys will cease their game to hear
A story that always thrills.
And many a right good hearty laugh
Aloft in the night-air swirls
As the tale is retailed over again
Of Bill's jui- jitsu, and Murky's pain
The day that he lost his curls.

--" BIFF," in Rockhampton " Critic."


From the Wagga NSW newspaper the Worker Wednesday 20 December 1911, p. 7.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory