PROCESSING THE WHALE
Lyrics: Harry Robertson
The mighty mammal kings and queens of the cold Antarctic deep
Swim fast to dodge the dangers of the chaser’s engine beat,
But man the hunter knows that soon the whales will have to rise
To breathe above the surface so the gunner trains his eyes
Upon the feathered spout that shows just fifty yards ahead,
The killer harpoon gun roars out and another whale is dead.
Now belly-up the whale is towed to the factory’s skidway run,
But the orchestra of winches hasn’t yet its song begun,
See how the winch-musicians watch the conductor’s guiding hands
And control the wire-rope tensions of the Whale Claw’s singing strands,
The rolling ship is off-beat to the dead and floating whale
But the clanking grand finale drops the iron claw on its tail.
The main wire cable takes the strain upon the moving drum
And a hundred tons of whale is dragged up through the skidway run,
To where the men are waiting and the high-priest flenser stands
With his four-foot surgeon’s scapel held and ready in his hands,
His spiked boots grip the wooden deck with sure and steady feet,
As he makes the first incision through six inches blubber deep.
The flensers then slice down each side and up the Blue whale’s back
While deck hands rig their maze of wires and winches take up slack,
Their razor hockey sticks move fast in a skilled and secret way
As they make the art of flensing look as though it were child’s play.
With wires made fast the winch-men wait the high-priest flensers whim
He nods his head, and the blubber’s peeled, like a ripe banana skin.
Now roll the carcass over and peel the other side
Blood rushes out cross the deck in a hundred gallon tide,
The blubber peeled, they move the whale up through the gates of hell,
Where lemmers wait in the icy cold and stinking factory smell,
They carve the meat from off the bones to feed the cooker maws,
While the bones are cut in four-foot lengths with steaming powered saws.
The rolling ship and steaming deck ‘neath cloudy ice-grey skies,
The blood-red deck like roses deep with blubber white belies,
That colour contrast beauty makes in the picture of the mind,
For the butcher’s hand is ugly in a setting of this kind
Where Nature’s largest creatures die and on factory decks they bleed,
Ordained by law of Nature, that man must meet his need.
With hungry cooker pots now filled the process has begun,
Beneath the stinking flensing deck, machines begin to hum,
A whining separator sings to its rumbling, steaming pot,
And joins the winch’s chorus song that echoes from up top,
The glistening icebergs float serene ‘neath the thin Antarctic sun,
Down aft the flensers with their knives, cut up another one.
© Harry Robertson
and subsequently ©1995 Mrs Rita Robertson, Brisbane, AUSTRALIA
Registered with APRA/AMCOS www.apra-amcos.com.au