Prologue – written by Harry Robertson
The rolling drums of change beat out and winds of time blow free
To fill the sails of whaling ships in nineteen hundred and three.
Beat drummer man your sticks of time and let the rolling drum
Twang the rigs of sailing ships and make that message hum,
And let your hollow tattoo tell,”Nantucket”, “Dundee” barques,
That steam is here on whaling ships and steam will leave its mark.
They use a boiler full of steam to turn propellor screw
Where once you hauled the ice-caked sail as howling storms blew,
Depending not on Nature’s whim to blow a steady breeze,
The engines turn by day and night and drive the ship with ease.
A ship that’s built of steel, not wood, and with a “Sven Foyn” gun,
And engine-thrust to match the speed of Blue whales on the run,
The harpoons with explosive head and fuse all set to blow
With power that makes the hand harpoon look obsolete and slow.
A winch upon a steely deck to wheel the hawser in
That keeps large whales from sinking whether they are Blues or Fin,
A hose-pipe thrust deep in the whale to pump it full of air,
No methods of the old days with these methods could compare.
Then floating on its back, the whale to factory ship is towed
Towards the flensing deck it’s dragged up through the skidway road,
They don’t build “Try works” on this deck from mortar and from brick
But down below high pressure pots reduce the blubber quick.
Yet still the men of whaling ships, the Yanks and British too,
Kept fishing with the hand harpoon and six-man row-boat crew,
They clung to age-old methods for twenty years or more
But furled their sails to marching steam in nineteen hundred and four,
Since then they’ve marched together to the drummer’s changing beat
Along the paths that led us to the modern whaling fleet.
©Harry Robertson, and subsequently ©1995 Mrs Rita Robertson, Brisbane, Australia.
NB: for enlarged version of the cover information please click on image above (or click here)