Poems by the one and only 'great'
Scottish Poet William Topaz McGonagall
POEM : The Wreck of the "Columbine" by William Topaz McGonagall
FROM : From Last Poetic Gems
Kind Christians, all pay attention to me,
And Miss Mouat's sufferings I'll relate to ye;
While on board the Columbine, on the merciless sea,
Tossing about in the darkness of night in the storm helplessly.
She left her home (Scatness), on Saturday morning, bound for Lerwick,
Thinking to get cured by a man she knew, as she was very sick;
But for eight days she was tossed about on the stormy main,
By a severe storm of wind, hail, and rain.
The waves washed o'er the little craft, and the wind loudly roared,
And the Skipper, by a big wave, was washed overboard;
Then the crew launched the small boat on the stormy main,
Thinking to rescue the Skipper, but it was all in vain.
Nevertheless, the crew struggled hard his life to save,
But alas! the Skipper sank, and found a watery grave;
And the white crested waves madly did roar,
Still the crew, thank God, landed safe on shore.
As soon as Miss Mouat found she was alone,
Her mind became absorbed about her friends at home;
As her terrible situation presented itself to her mind,
And her native place being quickly left far behind.
And as the big waves lashed the deck with fearful shocks,
Miss Mouat thought the vessel had struck upon a reef of rocks;
And she thought the crew had gone to get help from land,
While she held to a rope fastened to the cabin roof by her right hand.
And there the poor creature was in danger of being thrown to the floor,
Whilst the heavy showers of spray were blown against the cabin door,
And the loosened sail was reduced to tatters and flapping with the wind,
And the noise thereof caused strange fears to arise in her mind.
And after some hours of darkness had set in,
The table capsized with a lurch of the sea which made a fearful din,
Which helped to put the poor creature in a terrible fright,
To hear the drawers of the table rolling about all the night.
And there the noble heroine sat looking very woe-begone,
With hands uplifted to God making her moan,
Praying to God above to send her relief,
While in frantic screams she gave vent to her pent up grief.
And loud and earnestly to God the noble heroine did cry,
And the poor invalid's bosom heaved many a sigh;
Oh! heaven, hard was the fate of this woman of sixty years of age,
Tossing about on the briny deep, while the storm fiend did rage.
Oh! think of the poor soul crouched in the cabin below,
With her heart full of fear, cold, hunger, and woe,
And the pitless storm of rain, hail, and snow,
Tossing about her tiny craft to and fro.
And when the morning came she felt very sick,
And she expected the voyage would be about three hours to Lerwick,
And her stock of provisions was but very small,
Only two half-penny biscuits and a quart bottle of milk in all
Still the heavy snow kept falling, and the sky was obscured,
And on Sabbath morning she made her first meal on board,
And this she confined to a little drop of milk and half a biscuit,
Which she wisely considered was most fit.
And to the rope fastened to the cabin roof she still held on
Until her hands began to blister, and she felt woe-begone,
But by standing on a chest she could look out of the hatchway,
And spend a little time in casting her eyes o'er the sea each day.
When Wednesday morning came the weather was very fine,
And the sun in the heavens brightly did shine,
And continued so all the live long day;
Then Miss Mouat guessed that land to the norward lay.
Then the poor creature sat down to her last meal on board,
And with heartfelt thanks she praised the Lord;
But when Thursday morning came no more food could be had,
Then she mounted a box about seven o'clock while her heart felt sad.
And she took her usual gaze o'er the sea with a wistful eye,
Hoping that some passing vessel she might descry,
And to the westward she espied a bright red light,
But as the little craft passed on it vanished from her sight.
But alas; no vessel could she see around anywhere,
And at last the poor soul began to despair,
And there the lonely woman sat looking out to the heavens above,
Praying to God for succour with her heart full of love.
At last the Columbine began to strike on submerged rocks,
And with the rise and fall of the sea she received some dreadful shocks,
And notwithstanding that the vessel was still rolling among the rocks,
Still the noble heroine contrived once more to raise herself upon the box.
Still the Columbine sped on, and ran upon a shingly beach,
And at last the Island of Lepsoe, Miss Mouat did reach,
And she was kindly treated by the inhabitants in everyway that's grand,
And conveyed to Aalesund and there taking steamer to fair England.