A Shearer's Lament

Words: Matt O'Connor/ music © 1997 Martyn Wyndham-Read, Fellsongs Publishing


I learned A Shearer's Lament from Ed Trickett and we used to sing it and Waiting for the Rain together.  Martyn Windham-Read says about the lyrics, "The words for a A Shearer's Lament were written by Matt O'Connor who was an itinerant shearer (in Australia.) Back in the '60s he used to send in poems and contributions to a Folk Magazine and A Shearer's Lament was one of his.  The magazine wrote back to him to a P.O. Box address which he had given, but they never received a reply or any other contribution from him, and presumed that he had passed on."



Gordon – 12-string guitar


We finished shearing sheep out west of the Paroo

And it's rained three inches – we don't know what to do

A week ago the sand was loose; the dust blew every day

And no w the mud is two feet deep and we can't get away


I've just been talking to the boss- you all know Hector Cope

He says the Bull is two miles wide – to cross it there's no hope

You hear a lot of people swear about the dough we make

But they forget the price of beer and all the combs we break


Well, why I took this job on, I just can't understand

If the bloody sheep ain't waterlogged, the cows are full of sand

A man is doubled up all day, half-blinded by his sweat

And when the darkness comes around, cooped up in a mozzie net*  


It might have been a good job once; those old hands had their breaks

They pushed a cart from shed to shed and lived on johnnycakes

They had more time to do the job – they worked nine hours a day

And after paying for their grub, one pound-a-hundred made


I think I'll give this job away; I'm tired of being greasy

I've heard about a fencing job – they tell me it's dead easy




* mosquito netting


A Shearer's Lament is recorded on the album Apples in the Basket