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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Brian Lyr Req: I Don't Go Shearing Now (W W Hood) (12) Lyr Add: I DON'T GO SHEARING NOW (W W Hood) 27 Mar 07

This is the poem as published in 'A Collection of Australian Bush Verse'


By Walter William Hood, 'John Drayman'

So you're off to Riverina, where the sun is shining clear,
And ewes and lambs are bleating, calling shearers far and near;
Where the musterers are busy and the grass is waving high,
And the July fogs are climbing up the sunbeams to the sky;
Where the trefoil and the crowfoot in the pens are growing rank,
And the mud is getting sun-cracked on the falling river's bank;
Where the cook is in possession and the teams are carting wool,
And they're patching up the oven - which was never understood -
And the carpenters are fixing up the gates and the pens and bins,
While the pressers, just to kill time, press in bales the winter's skins.
And those cranky little grindstones, in the centre hollow-ground,
How they used to jump and wobble as they turned the handles round!
Has the boss stuck to his promise, putting new ones in their place,
Not too soft and not too gritty, broad and level on the face?
I've been there, you know, my sonny, and I know exactly how
Those grindstones hurt your feelings - though I don't go shearing now...

You'll be wondering what old faces will be missing from the shed
For some are shearing elsewhere and some perhaps are dead.
And each succeeding muster you will notice with a sigh
That some old friends are missing - and you vaguely wonder why,
And where they're shearing this year. Ah, I know exactly how
These little things affect you - though I don't go shearing now ...

Then the start! - you're all excitement as you slowly feel your way,
And there isn't any hurry, as it takes you all the day
To get the sweet-lips going, and the boss severely damns
The mercenary mouser who opens on the rams,
For all are strangely awkward while the hands are getting in,
And it spoils a good beginning if you chip both wool and skin.
But the next day things have altered, and the short, hoarse, 'Wool away!'
Replaces reminiscent jokes and latest leary lay;
The learners awkward struggling, at which all hands had laughed,
Forgotten is as silently you settle down to graft -
Each man his neighbour watching, noting each the other's pace,
As you move a little faster, feeling fitter for the race.
If you find from those about you that you're gaining more and more,
Then you take to watching others, faster men along the floor;
And as the speed grows greater you will find that not a few
Are anxiously, discreetly, on the quiet, watching you.
So the pace goes on increasing and the sweat begins to drop,
Every man has found his pacer and is going at his top;
But ere many days are over weak ones fall back one by one
Hit by chips and bullets flying from the bosses little gun;
I've been there, you know, my sonny, and I know exactly how
The fight gets fairly started - though I don't go shearing now ...

Shedwards silent figures flitting in the dawning cold and grey,
The a rush at ringing signal, all together - fire away!
Laboured breathing, bodies straining, painfully you turn and twist,
small blows first, then open wider as the stiffness leaves your wrist.
There's the flying hurry-scurry up and down the greasy floors
Of the pickers and the broomies; there's the banging of the doors
And the rattle of the wool-press with its hard metallic din,
And the hoof-taps on the battens when the ewes and the lambs rush in.
'Wool away!' and 'Tar!' and 'Sheep-ho!' - sundry growls at clumsy boys -
Are excluded from the rule of 'No unnecessary noise'.
Ever constant, ever struggling, straining o'er the astonished brutes,
Too surprised to raise a protest till they're shorn and down the shoots.
Three smart rubs with well-oiled turkey, dab the shears in water-pot,
Rush away to catch another - thus doth rage the battle hot;
While the perspiration, streaming from the ringer as he swings
Round the jumbuck in a circle, splashes on the board in rings,
Smoke-ho! Sharpen; cobble drivers; file your knockers down at night; -
Off again with rush and rattle, shear-blades buried out of sight
'Neath the snowy fleeces falling, tumbling o'er like crests of foam -
Ah, my lad! 'tis little wonder that you love to northward roam
When the battle is beginning; for I know exactly how
Such a fight affects your feeling - though I don't go shearing now ...

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