> Martyn Wyndham-Read > Songs > The Call of the North

The Call of the North

[ Roud - ; AFS 181 ; Jack Sorensen]

The Call of the North is a poem by Jack Sorensen (1906-1947) which describes the northwards movement of the shearers following the work. Jack Sorenson was a Western Australian poet who spent his time around the gold fields, shearing sheds and pubs reciting his poetry. Three verses of his poem were published in the Western Australian newspaper The Bunbury Herald and Blackwood Express on Friday June 14, 1929.

Martyn Wyndham-Read sang The Call of the North to his own tune in 2013 on his album Starlit Skies. He noted:

A poem by Jack Sorensen from the book The Shearers by Patsy Adam-Smith. The tune had been playing in my mind and waiting for some words to fit it, and these are they. The lure of the shearing would take the men from their homes and families for long stretches of time, and the shearing comradely spirit was a hard one to break. In the old days travel was by mobile foot or by foot powered bicycle.

Quote from an old bushman: “All madmen travel north and once there cannot get away from the place.”

Lyrics

The Call of the North in the Bunbury Herald Martyn Wyndham-Read sings The Call of the North

Oh! the western wind is blowing—
So there's rain and cold in store,
And the teams have long been going
Down the road to Mullewa:
To where tropic sun is gleaming
And the fragrant winds blow free;
I've awakened from my dreaming,
And the North is calling me.

Now the western wind is blowing—
So there's rain and storm in store,
The teams have long been going
Down the road to Glindawor.
Where the tropic sun is gleaming,
The breeze is blowing free;
I have wakened from my dreaming,
And the North is calling me.

Oh! the steam is in the boiler
In the engine-room below,
And upon the board each toiler
Waits to hear the whistle blow:
For the shearing is beginning,
And my heart is fancy free,
And the friction wheels are spinning,
And the North is calling me.

Oh, the steam is in the engine
In the expert's room below,
And upon the board each shearer
Waits to hear the whistle blow.
For the shearing is beginning,
And my heart is fancy free,
And the friction wheels are spinning,
And the North is calling me.

From the Southward to the Northward,
Where the long, brown tracks wind down;
Oh, me mates are pushing forward,
To the wilderness from town;
Gone by stony hill and hollow,
To where I now would be,
Where they lead I needs must follow,
For the North, it's calling me.

What's the news I have been hearing,
Tidings strange to me indeed,
Bidgemia's started shearing,
With Sawallish in the lead,
Straining camel teams are swaying,
From the Junction to the sea,
Why so long am I delaying,
When the North is calling me.

And so Northward I am going,
For I cannot linger here,
For the starting whistle's blowing,
And the ‘guns’ are into gear:
So to be there I am yearning,
I will hail the sheds with glee,
For the money wheels are turning,
And the North is calling me.

And so Northward I am going,
For I cannot linger here,
Now the starting whistle's blowing,
And the ‘guns’ are into gear:
And to be there I am longing,
And I hail the sheds with glee,
For the friction wheels are turning,
And the North is calling me.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Req: The Call of the North: The north is calling me .