The Shearing at Cuppacumbalong by Anonymous

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Before I tells my story, if you asks me who I are,
I'm the shearer from the Billybong who never called for tar:
And on this first occasion I came out very strong,
Stripping off the fleeces at Cuppabacumlong.

Good shearing there, you bet; no man might tomahawk;
For if he did, he got the sack, and from the shed might walk;
Indeed a few poor fellows, their hearts it well nigh broke,
When they found they could not slash along the Murrumbidgee stroke.

Now I'm a steady hand, and do not try to go too fast,
And proved that careful shearing pays better at the last;
For when well nigh a month is lost, by reason of the rain,
It surely must be worth the while our rations free to gain.

And so it proved: for while the two great ringers got the sack
I shore all through, and in return a decent cheque got back.
And as I settled with the boss, he said, almost in tears,
"My bully boy, your tucker's free, and you may take your shears."

There's one remark I'd wish to make for which I have good reasons --
And that's to make more roomy sheds in case of rainy seasons;
For many a man I think would go more easy to his bed,
If he knew his next day's sheep were safe and drily in the shed.

I never seed such rain before, my word, what work we had:
To finish before Christmas day we wired in like mad;
We rose with dawn at four o'clock, and freshened with our sleep,
We thronged the pens like eaglehawks to dart upon the sheep.

You know the price we got this year; 't was three and six the score;
The same they got at Tuggranong: and though we tried for more,
The boss held out, and in a tone that seemed by half too knowing,
He said that shearers might be scarce but rather guessed it blowing.

"And how about the grub ?" I knew you'd ask that vital qusestion,
For none can work ten hours a day, upon a a bad digestion;
'T was mainly good, the beef was fat, we'd doughboys pretty often,   
And now and then a good plum duff, our labours helped to soften.

Well now we've done; on Christmas-eve we finished the last cobblers,
And galloped off to Queanbeyan, to take some social nobblers;
I stay at Land's: so join me, mate, I'm scarcely ever out;
The shearer from the Billybong is always free to shout.

First published in The Queanbeyan Age, 9 January 1873

Note: the author of this poem is unknown.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on January 9, 2011 8:29 AM.

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Bannerman of Dandenong: An Australian Ballad by Alice Werner is the next entry in this blog.

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