The Tin-Pot Mill

A poem by Edward Dyson

Quite a proud and happy man is Finn the Packer
Since he built his crazy mill upon the rise,
And he stands there in the gully, chewing ‘backer,’
With a sleepy sort of comfort in his eyes,
Gazin’ up to where the antiquated jigger
Is a-wheezing and a-hopping on the hill,
For up here my lord the Gov’nor isn’t bigger
Than the owner of the Federation Mill.

She goes biff, puff, bang, bump, cutter-clatter, smash,
And she rattles on for half a shift, and lets up with a crash;
And then silence reigns a little while, and all the land is still
While they’re tinkering awkward patches on the tin-pot mill.

It’s a five-head plant, and mostly built of lumber,
’Twas erected by a man that didn’t know,
And we’ve never had a decent spell of slumber
Since that battery of Finn’s was got to go;
For she raises just the most infernal clatter,
And we guessed the Day of Judgment had come down
When the tin-pot mill began to bang and batter
Like an earthquake in a boiler-metal town.

All the heads are different sizes, and the horses
Are so crazy that the whole caboodle rocks,
And each time a stamper thunders down it forces
Little spirtings through the crannies in the box.
Then the feed pipe’s mostly plugged and aggravating,
And the pump it suffers badly from a cough;
Every hour or so they burst a blooming grating,
And the shoes are nearly always coming off.

Mickey drives her with a portable, a ruin
That they used for donkeying cargo in the Ark.
When she’s got a little way on, and is doing,
You should hear that spavined coffee-grinder bark.
She is loose in all her joints, and, through corrosion,
Half her plates are not a sixteenth in the thick.
We’re expecting a sensational explosion,
And a subsequent excursion after Mick.

From the feed—which chokes—to quite the smallest ripple,
From the bed-logs to the guides, she’s mighty queer,
And she joggles like an agitated cripple
With St. Vitus dance intensified by beer.
She stops short; and starts with most unearthly rumbles,
And, distracted by the silence and the din,
Through the sleepless night the weary miner grumbles,
And heaps curses on the family of Finn.

But the owner’s much too cute a man to wrangle.
He is crushing for the public, understand,
And each ton of stuff that’s hammered through the mangle
Adds its tribute to the value of his land.
For she leaks the raw amalgam, and he’s able
To see daylight ’twixt the ripples an’ the plates,
And below the box and ’neath the shaking table
There are nest-eggs ’cumulating while he waits.

She goes biff, puff, bang, bump, clitter-clatter, smash,
And she rattles on for half a shift, and lets with a crash;
Then silence reigns a little while, and the land is still
While they’re tinkering awkward patches on the tin-pot mill.

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