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Those Foreign Engineers

Henry Lawson 1867 (Grenfell) – 1922 (Sydney)



Old Ivan McIvanovitch, with knitted brow of care,
Has climbed up from the engine-room to get a breath of air;
He slowly wipes the grease and sweat from hairy face and neck.
And from beneath his bushy brows he glowers around the deck.

The weirdest Russian in the fleet, whose words are strange to hear,
He seems to run the battleship, though but an engineer.
He is not great, he has no rank, and he is far from rich—
’Tis strange the admiral salutes old McIvanovitch.

He gives the order ‘Whusky!’ ere he goes below once more—
And ‘Whusky’ is a Russian word I never heard before;
Perhaps some Tartar dialect, because, you know, you’ll meet
Some very various Muscovites aboard the Baltic fleet.

And on another battleship that sailed out from Japan
The boss of all the engineers, you’ll find another man
With flaming hair and eyes like steel, and he is six-foot three—
His name is Jock McNogo, and a fearsome Jap is he.

He wears a beard upon his chest, his face you won’t forget,
His like was never found amongst the heathen idols yet;
His words are awesome words to hear, his lightest smile is grim,
And daily in the engine-room the heathen bow to him.

Now, if the fleets meet in the North and settle matters there,
Say, how will McIvanovitch and Jock McNogo fare?
But if you ken that Russian and that Jap, you needn’t fret,
They’ll hae a drap, or maybe twa, some nicht in Glesca yet.

Those foreigners will ship again aboard some foreign boat,
And do their best to drive her through and keep the tub afloat.
They’ll stir the foreign greasers up and prove from whence they came—
And all to win the bawbees for the wife and bairns at hame.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Henry Lawson

Henry Lawson 17 June 1867 - 2 September 1922 was an Australian writer and poet Along with his contemporary Banjo Paterson Lawson is among the best-known Australian poets and fiction writers of the colonial period more…

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