Australian Folk Songs

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The Shearing Time (1909)

Written for the "Western Champion" by John Hill.

Come sing us a song of the shearing time
To the whirr of the whizzing wheels,
With the throb of the engine's pulsing rhyme
As the gearing madly reels.
O! give us the call of the whistle's blast,
Ere the stars have left the sky,
And the sound, as moccasined feet go past,
Of the penned sheep's plaintive cry.

Come give as a lay of the Golden Fleece,
And the long smooth shearing board,
And sing of the war that is waged in peace
With a Wolsely machine for sword.
Sound us a march with the quick hoof beats
That race on the battened floor,
For these are the hordes that the shearer meets
There, by the low pen door.

Now these are the days of the shearing time,
And the carnival days of strife.
And the hum of the cutter's a musical chime
When you're shearing for home and wife.
There's an ode in the steam press' strident drone
As we watch the screw unwind,
Deep as the peel of an organ's tone
To the "Girl That We Left behind."

In the vaulted shed is a voicing choir
That swells on the vibrant air.
'Tis the assuring song of our heart's desire,
And tells of a maiden fair.
But it's only the rush of the driving wheels,
And only a lingering thought,
Yet the cadence thrills as our fancy steals
The dreams that it's theme has wrought.

So carol a hymn of the shearing time
While the shadows lengthen slow,
Or an evensong with a drowsy rhyme
As the stars begin to show.
For the moonlight rests on a silent shed
And the hut lights fade away,
And the learner dreams of the girl he'll wed
When he holds a ringer's sway.

We're dreaming the dreams of the shearing time,
We're building the castle walls
That rest on air in somnus' clime
When Morpheus' mantle falls.
But O ! for the day when the dreams come true,
And the eyes that are blue or black
Will shine with delight upon me and you,
When their owners welcome us back.


From the Barcaldine Newspaper the The Western Champion and General Advertiser for the Central-Western Districts Sat 27 Mar 1909 p. 3.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory