Australian Folk Songs
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After The Strike (1894)
(Tune--"After the Ball is Over")
Once a pretty maiden climbed an old man's knee,
Asked for a story--Papa, tell me,
Why are you lonely, why are you sad ?
Why do your shopmates call you a scab ?
I had friends, pet, long, long years ago ;
How I lost them you soon shall know ;
I'll tell it all, pet, tell all my shame;
I was a scab, pet, I was to blame.
After the strike was over,
After the men have won ;
After the shops have opened ;
After the notice is down,
Many the heart is aching,
Though the hope seems bright
That many a scab will vanish
After the strike.
Brave men were fighting, standing side by side,
Fighting for justice, fighting with pride ;
I then was with them--with them heart and soul,
But when the test came I left them in the cold.
I thought it best, pet, best to turn a scab ;
Best to return, pet, to the job I had ;
That's why I'm lonely, that's why I'm sad,
That's why my shopmates call me a scab.
Many years have passed, pet, since I won that name,
And in song and story they have told my shame.
I have tried to tell them, tried to explain.
But they will not listen, pleading is in vain ;
Everywhere I wander, everywhere I roam,
The story of my shame is sure to find my home.
I'd give my life, pet, give my all,
If I had not turned traitor, or scabbed at all.
From the Queensland Newspaper the Worker Sat 28 Apr 1894 p. 2.
In his 'AUSTRALIAN FOLK SONG INDEX' the Folklorist Ron Edwards writes: "AFTER THE STRIKE tells of events following the big shearers' strike of 1891. It is based on 'After the Ball is Over.' and uses the seldom heard verse tunes as well as the well known chorus. We know that this song was popular during the strike, for our informant, Dan Nicholson, b. 1893 learned it from his father who had been in the big strikers' camp at Winton. Allan Jenkins and I collected it at Charters Towers, 13 October 1966."
[MG] More than 30 such lyrics were published in the shearers' newspaper the Worker between December 1890 and December 1891.
australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory