The Ship Repairing Men

Harry Robertson


From the workshops off we go, toolkits heavy in our hands

To the big one that's come in from a trip to foreign lands

Salty streaks of rust have marked her but the moorings hold her right

And we'll work to fix her engines all today and half the night


Don't wait up for me this evening. I'll be out all night again

Working on the Brisbane River with the ship repairing men.


Oil fired burners throb with power, drinking up the furnace heat

Water turns to driving steam to make the engines beat

But the feed pump's sighing wail to us cuts through all other sound

And it sings a song of triumph for the valved that we have ground


Engine bearings that knocked and hammered in the wild and stormy seas

Will be machined and fitted till they run with silent ease

And the winch that rattled every time the pistor turned its shaft

Will hum along and sing a song to men skilled in their craft


When you see an ocean liner slip between the river banks

And the captain in his gold braid orders men of lower ranks

Did you ever think that stately craft would never sail again

If it wasn't for the sweat and toil of ship repairing men