Digital Tradition Mirror

First Kill

First Kill

Oh me name is Ian MacGregor,
And I hail from Aberdeen,
I signed on board this whale fishing ship,
Just after I'd turned seventeen.

I was eager to please and I learned me jobs well,
And the captain soon gave me a chance,
To prove to the world, to the crew and meself,
I had talent for throwing the lance.

There was a good view of the whales in the pod,
From the bow of the boat where I ride,
We were just bearing down on an old Humpback cow,
With a calf swimming there by her side.

The sky, it was clear, and the weather was good,
And the sea was a beautiful blue,
I pulled me arm back and I timed my throw right,
And the whale was struck deep and true.

Yeah, the harpoon sunk in so far up the shaft,
That I knew she would be my first kill,
But the sorrowful cry that she gave to her calf,
Struck me even deeper still.

Then I sat back down hard when she jerked on our boat,
And watched as the line, it played out,
Each one of us knew that she wouldn't run far,
There was already blood in her spout.

And it took several strokes from our ten foot long pikes,
To finish the life of that whale,
There were tears on my cheeks, though, when hauling her back,
With the calf swimming next to her tail.

Then I sat as though stunned, in the bow of my boat,
While the crew hooked up shackles and gear,
Shocked by the foul, evil thing I had done,
When another sound came to my ear.

A plaintive cry, so mournful and sad,
Came forth from the wee little calf,
I reached out and stroked his barnacled head,
While the knives started cutting the fat.

Then the fires were stoked for to render the oil,
While the mate hollered down from the deck,
"Hey, MacGregor, you fool!  Whatcha sittin' there for?
Stick your lance in that little one's neck."

Well I looked at the man who had called down to me,
And I thought about what he had said,
I picked up my lance, but I turned it around,
And smacked the calf hard on its head.

Then he rolled to his right and he flourished his tail,
And disappeared under a wave,
And though I was sad for the cow I had killed,
I felt good for the calf that I saved.

And no more would I kill on this whale fishing trip,
Though I served out my time all the same,
Mending and cleaning and helping the cook,
'Til they dropped me at a seaport in Maine.

For the last forty years now, I've lived a good life,
With a wife and four sons that we've raised,
And I've taught them that killing for profit or sport,
Is a thing that should never be praised.

But I wonder at times when I think of that day,
And the changes that it made to me,
How can we as men, still live with ourselves,
When we slaughter the whales of the sea.
     How can we as men, still live with ourselves,
     When we slaughter the whales of the sea.

Copyright Mike Campbell 1994

Thanks to Mudcat for the Digital Tradition!

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