The Whaler's Pig by E. J. Brady

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We shipped him at the Sandwich Isles --
   'Fore God, he's mostly nose ---
We've fetched him full eight thousand miles
   To fatten in the Floes.

The Arctic wind may whistle down
   The ice-strewn Baffin Sea,
Our "passenger" don't care a darn --
   A whaler's pig is he.

The blubber which the brute devours --
   Hard fruit of our harpoon ---
He merely holds in trust; 'tis ours,
   Fresh pork! God send it soon!

Now, when her sloppy deck's amuck
   With stale cetacean spoil,
The glutton wallows in the ruck,
   His paunch a-drip with oil.

When from the crow's-nest rings the shout,
   Clean-echoed "There she blows!"
"Jeff Davis" lifts his grizzled snout,
   To let us know he knows.

The white ash blades drop down and rise,
   The royal chase begins,
He watches with his wicked eyes,
   And multiplies his sins.

With critic squint he stands betide
   The harpooner prepares,
And, if the erring steel goes wide
In swinish tongue he swears
(Great Heavens! how he swears!)

But when we strike her good and fair,
   Before the line runs hot,
He'll lift a hoarse hog cheer out there
   With all the strength he's got.

And when he sees the steerer take
   The bold boat-header's place,
A gourmand smile will slowly break
   Like sunrise round his face.

Around the loggerhead that line
   Grows taut as taut may be --
Three turns to hang your life and mine
   High o'er Eternity!

Who thinks of that? Not I, not you,
   Not he who most complains,
When like hell's fire the blood swirls through
   Our thumping hearts and veins,

'Tis "Fast she is" ----- "Now! ... Let her go!"
   Our college stroke-oar yells;
This hour is worth a life to know;
   'Tis now the savage tells.

They maybe shared (ere progress rose)
   Who sired first earls and dukes,
A kindred ecstasy with those
   Who dodge a "fighter's" flukes.

So felt our simian sires who tied
   Their sheet-o'-bark canoes
To some mosasaur's slimy hide
   With only life to lose.

But this Kanaka hog will see
   The whetted lance succeed;
Glad epicure grunts in glee,
   Fore-knowledged of his feed.

Thus will his belly teach his tongue
   What eloquence it may
(Some noble songs by poets sung
   Have been inspired that way).

So will he squeal approval when
   Our six-hour fight is done,
And lord it bravely in his pen
   O'er quarry chased and won.

So will he join the chanty free
   That echoes as she tows,
To add his porcine jubilee
   And glad his adipose.

It is not clean or nice of taste,
   This episode of trade,
That lurches with indecent haste
   Towards the blubber spade.

But still it goes that man made sail,
   Invented rig on rig,
And God Almighty made the whale
   That feeds the whaler's pig.

This sorry beast which might have drowned,
   As hogs and humans can,
He also made, so runs the round,
   To feed the Whaler-man.

The whaler-man will get his "lay,"
   The whaler's pig his share --
First whale, then pig, then man, some day
   The worm will make it square.

First published
in The Bulletin, 26 June 1897;
and later in
The New Oxford Book of Australian Verse edited by Les Murray, 1986.

Author reference sites: Austlit, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian Poetry Library

See also.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on June 26, 2011 11:16 AM.

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