Poems by the one and only 'great'
Scottish Poet William Topaz McGonagall
POEM : Bill Bowls, the Sailor by William Topaz McGonagall
FROM : From Last Poetic Gems
Bill Bowls was an amiable gentle youth,
And concerning him I'll relate the truth;
His mother wanted to make him a Tailor,
But Bill's Father said he was cut out for a Sailor.
Dancing bareheaded under heavy rain was his delight,
And wading in ponds and rivers by day and by night;
And he was as full of mischief as an Egg is full of meat,
And tumbling and swimming in deep pools to him was a treat.
His Father was a Mill Wright, and lived near a small lake,
And many a swim in that lake, Bill used to take;
And many a good lesson his good dad gave to him,
To keep always in shoal water till he could swim.
One day he got hold of a very big plank,
And with it he resolved to play some funny prank,
So he launched the plank into the lake,
Crying now I'll have some rare fun and no mistake.
And on the plank he went with a piece of broken paling for an oar,
But suddenly a squall came down on the lake which made him roar,
And threw him on his beam ends into the water,
And the clothes he had on him were drenched every tatter.
'Twas lucky for Bill his Father heard his cries,
And to save poor Bill he instantly flies,
And he leaped into the lake and dragged Bill ashore,
While Bill for help did lustily roar.
Then after that he joined a ship bound for China,
With a pair of light breeches and his heart full of glee,
His heart soon became less bouyant
When he discovered his captain was a great tyrant.
One evening as Bill stood talking to the steersman,
And the weather at the time was very calm;
Tom Riggles said, Bill we're going to have dirty weather,
But with the help of God, we'll weather it together.
That night the Captain stood holding to on the shrouds,
While scudding across the sky were thick angry clouds
And the ship was running unsteady before the wind,
And the Captain was drunk must be borne in mind.
Then a cry is heard which might have chilled the stoutest heart,
Which caused every man on board with fear to start;
Oh! heavens, rocks ahead, shouted the mate, above the gale,
While every face on board turned ghastly pale.
Then, port! port! hard-a-port! shouted the men
All over the ship, from bow to stern,
And the order was repeated by the mate
Who sprang to the wheel, fearlessly resigned to his fate.
At last a heavy wave struck the ship with a terrible dash,
Which made every plank quiver and give way with a crash,
While wave on the back of wave struck her with fearful shocks,
Until at last she was lifted up and cast on the rugged rocks.
Oh! heaven, it must have been an awful sight,
To witness in the dusky moon-light;
Men clinging to the rigging with all their might,
And others trying to put the ship all right.
Then the wind it blew a terrific blast,
Which tore the rigging away and the missen-mast;
And the big waves lashed her furiously,
And the Captain was swept with the wreck into the sea.
Then every man struggled manfully to gain the shore,
While the storm fiend did loudly laugh and roar,
But alas! They all perished but Tom Riggles and Bill Bowls,
And they were cast on a rocky islet where on the tempest howls
And they lived on shell fish while they were there,
Until one day they began to despair,
But thank God they espied a vessel near at hand,
And they were taken on board and landed safe in fair England.