“London Board!” [poem by Grant Hervey, 27 November 1910]

[Editor: A poem by Grant Hervey, published in his “Cuts and Carvings” column, in The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 27 November 1910.]

“London Board!”

The London Board is dissatisfied with the results obtained. — Any mining report.

Its seal upon the continents, its hand upon, the “wires” —
The London Board’s dissatisfied; there’s Nothing it admires!
Six fat and portly gentlemen — perchance there’s eight or nine —
They howl for larger dividends and curse the distant mine!
They are the blest Directorate, who run this sinful show,
Where we with steel and dynamite are toiling for the Co.!
They are the swollen Emperors, who patronise the Lord;
Who vex perspiring managers — the blanky London Board!

From Southern Cross to Chillagoe, from Zeehan to the Towers,
The slaves of British capital are sweating through the hours!
From Broken Hill to Bendigo, their serfs are bursting rock,
And stamps are busy thundering from Clunes to Boulder Block!
The whole perspiring continent is rushing to and fro
To please the bloated autocrats who navigate the Co.!
For them the pounding batteries by night and day have roared;
Have bashed upon the diorite to serve the London Board!

They fume in murky offices twelve thousand miles away;
Whilst we are busy shattering the rock and shifting clay!
They send complaining cablegrams that crawl beneath the sea;
We toil beneath the universe — where London Boards should be!
Amalgam pans and poppet heads are Symbols of their sway
Throughout this cursing Commonwealth from Q. to W.A.!
They are the guiding Providence, and theirs the rich reward;
We are the blanky helotry who feed the London Board!

The produce of the furnaces, the filter-press and mill,
Is offered up from Ballarat and Cue and Broken Hill!
They are the final arbiters — and God before the Co.
Is less than quartz or diorite whose grade is cheap and low!
Production-costs take precedence of all the seraphim;
And dividends are salted with the blood of Bill and Jim —
To burst the blank machinery is sinful and deplored;
But merely human accidents are nothing to the Board!

The Fat Man when dissatisfied, is sordid, blunt and plain!
And angry Bull-Directorates grow hoarse in Fetter-Lane!
There is a grief oppresses them — they may not bring the Chow
To gouge Australian dividends — the world, they think, should bow!
The humble earth, obedient, should fall upon its knees;
Should labor long and zealously for microscopic fees!
To make the world a mullock-heap, exploited and explored —
’Tis thus ambition goadeth them, the bloated London Board!

Their serfs on all the continents, their cables on the “wires” —
The Board abhors Democracy and national desires!
The fists of angry Emperors are shaken ’gainst this Land —
This bad and sinful Commonwealth where Chows are barred and banned!
Whilst we with drills and dynamite earn profits for the Co.,
They curse ’midst London murkiness — where all the profits flow!
These Persons large and arrogant throw coppers to the Lord;
They are the Earth’s proprietors — the blanky London Board!

— Grant Hervey.

The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 27 November 1910, p. 18

Editor’s notes:
amalgam pans = large vats in which ore is mixed with mercury, using processes by which the mercury adheres to the precious metals and is later separated [see: Charles M. Robinson III (editor), The Diaries of John Gregory Bourke: Volume Three, June 1, 1878 — June 22, 1880, Denton (Texas): University of North Texas Press, c2007, page 94]

Bill and Jim = Australians, from the common first names “Bill” and “Jim” (the name “Billjim”, or “Bill-Jim”, was used in Australia from the late 1800s to refer to Australians, and was used during the First World War as a slang term for an Australian soldier)

blanky = substitution for a swear word (such as “bloody”)

Chillagoe = a town in Queensland, west of Cairns, known for mineral mining

Chow = a Chinese person (may also refer to something that is Chinese in origin or style, e.g. a “Chow restaurant”)

Co. = an abbreviation of “Company”

Cue = a town in Western Australia, about 650 km. north-east of Perth, known for gold mining

Fat Man = capitalist

mullock-heap = the refuse heap (of rocks, etc.) where the waste material from a mining operation is dumped (when associated with big mines, these can reach great heights)

poppet heads = frameworks above mining shafts that support the winding mechanisms

Q. = Queensland

seraphim = angels which are regarded as a highly-ranked order of angel (the Seraphim are mentioned in the Bible, in Isaiah 6: “I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne . . . Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings”)

Southern Cross = a town in Western Australia, about 371 km. east of Perth, known for gold mining

Towers = Charters Towers, a town in Queensland, about 137 km. south-west of Townsville, known for gold mining

Zeehan = a town in Tasmania, about 139 km. south-west of Burnie, known for silver and lead mining

W.A. = Western Australia

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