Waiting For The Rain


CLASSIC BUSH VERSE – HARD YAKKA

Waiting For The Rain

JOHN NEILSON

Neilson wrote this poem as a song and included a chorus however it was not until the late 1950s that folklorist John Meredith recorded a version sung in the tradition. The poem offers a real insight into station life with the shearers glancing furtively at the sky, as the boss gets nervous about his unshorn sheep. The song version, as published in Paterson’s ‘Old Bush Songs’, 1905 edition, appears as ‘Another Fall of Rain’.

The weather has been warm for a fortnight now or more,
And the shearers have been driving might and main,
For some have got the century who ne’er got it before;
But now all hands are waiting for the rain.

For the boss is getting rusty, and the ringer’s caving in,
His bandaged wrist is aching with the pain,
And the second man, I fear, will make it hot for him
Unless we have another fall of rain.

Some are taking quarters and keeping well in bunk
While we shear the six-tooth wethers from the plain;
And if the sheep get harder some more of us will funk,
Unless we have another fall of rain.

Some cockies come here shearing; they would fill a little book
About this sad dry weather for the grain,
But here’s lunch a-coming, make way for Dick the cook—
Old Dick is nigh as welcome as the rain.

But now the sky is overcast; the thunder’s muttering loud;
The clouds are drifting westward o’er the plain,
And I see the red fire breaking from the edge of yonder cloud
I hear the gentle patter of the rain!

So, lads, put on your stoppers, and let us to the hut,
We all can do a full day’s rest again;
Some will be playing music, while some play ante-up,
And some are gazing outward at the rain. . . .

And now the rain is over let the pressers spin the screw
Let the teamsters back their wagons in again,
We’ll block the classers up by the way we put them through
For everything goes merry since the rain.

Let the boss bring out the bottle, let him “wet” the final flock’
For the shearers here may ne’er meet all again;
Some may meet next season, but perhaps not even then
For soon we all will vanish like the rain.