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The Battle of Shina, in Africa, Fought in 1800

William Topaz McGonagall 1825 – 1902 (Greyfriars Parish, Edinburgh)

King Shuac, the Giant of Mizra, war did declare
Against Ulva, King of Shina, telling him to prepare
And be ready for to meet him in the fight,
Which would commence the next morning before daylight.

When King Ulva heard the news, he told his warriors to prepare,
Then suddenly the clatter of arms sounded in the night air;
And the pale beams of the moon shone on coats of mail,
But not one bosom beneath them with fear did quail.

And bugles rang out their hoarse call,
And armed men gathered quickly, not in dread of their downfall;
For King Ulva resolved to go and meet Shuac,
So, by doing so, King Ulva's men courage didn't lack.

Therefore, the temple was lighted up anew,
And filled with armed warriors, bold and true;
And the King stood clad in his armour, and full of pride,
As he gazed upon his warriors, close by his side.

And he bowed himself to the ground,
While there was a deep silence around;
And he swore, by his false god of the all-seeing eye,
That he would meet Shuac, King of Mizra, and make him fly.

And I swear that in Shina peace shall remain,
And whatever thou desireth, supreme one, will not be in vain;
For thou shalt get what thou considereth to be most fit,
Though it be of my own flesh and blood, I swear it.

Then, when all was in readiness, they marched before the dawn,
Sixty thousand in number, and each a picked man;
And they marched on silently to take Shuac's army by surprise,
And attack him if possible, before sunrise.

King Shuac's army were about one hundred thousand strong,
And, when King Ulva heard so, he cried, We'll conquer them ere long,
Therefore, march on, brave men, we'll meet them before daybreak,
So, be resolute and conquer, and fight for Shina's sake.

Within a mile of the enemy's camp they lay all night,
Scarcely taking well-earned repose, they were so eager for the fight;
And when the morning broke clear and cloudless, with a burning sky,
Each warrior was wishing that the fight was begun.

And as the armies neared one another, across the fertile land,
It was a most imposing sight, and truly grand,
To see the warriors clad in armour bright,
Especially the form of Shuac, in the midst of the fight.

The royal guard, forming the vanguard, made the first attack,
Under the command of King Ulva, who courage didn't lack;
And cries of "King Ulva!" and "King Shuac!" rent the air,
While Shuac cried, I'll burn Shina to the ground, I now do swear!

King Shuac was mounted on a powerful steed,
Which pressed its way through the ranks with lightning speed;
And with its hoofs the earth it uptears,
Until, with a bound, it dashes through the ranks of opposing spears.

Then the two Kings met each other at last,
And fire flashed from their weapons, and blows fell fast;
But Shuac was the strongest of the two,
But King Ulva was his match with the club, Ulva knew.

Then, with his club, he gave Shuac a blow, which wounded him deep,
Crying out, Shuac, thy blood is deserting thee! thou art a sheep!
Cried Ulva, dealing him another fearful blow,
Then Shuac raised his club and rushed on his foe.

Then his blow fell, and knocked Ulva's club from his hand,
While both armies in amazement stand
To watch the hand-to-hand fight,
While Shuac's warriors felt great delight.

But there chanced to be a Scotchman in Ulva's army,
That had a loaded pistol, and he fired it immediately,
And shot King Shuac through the head,
And he toppled over to the ground killed stone dead!

Then the men of Mizra laid down their arms and fled
When they saw that their King was killed dead;
Then King Ulva said to the Scotchman, I am thy servant for ever,
For to thee I owe my life, and nought but death will us sever.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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William Topaz McGonagall

William Topaz McGonagall (March 1825 – 29 September 1902) was an Irish weaver, poet and actor who lived in Scotland. He won notoriety as an extremely bad poet who exhibited no recognition of, or concern for, his peers' opinions of his work. He wrote about 200 poems, including "The Tay Bridge Disaster" and "The Famous Tay Whale", which are widely regarded as some of the worst in English literature. Groups throughout Scotland engaged him to make recitations from his work, and contemporary descriptions of these performances indicate that many listeners were appreciating McGonagall's skill as a comic music hall character. Collections of his verse remain popular, with several volumes available today. McGonagall has been lampooned as the worst poet in British history. The chief criticisms are that he was deaf to poetic metaphor and unable to scan correctly. His only apparent understanding of poetry was his belief that it needed to rhyme. McGonagall's fame stems from the humorous effects these shortcomings are considered to generate in his work. Scholars argue that his inappropriate rhythms, weak vocabulary, and ill-advised imagery combine to make his work amongst the most unintentionally amusing dramatic poetry in the English language. His work is in a long tradition of narrative ballads and verse written and published about great events and tragedies, and widely circulated among the local population as handbills. In an age before radio and television, their voice was one way of communicating important news to an avid public. more…

All William Topaz McGonagall poems | William Topaz McGonagall Books

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    "The Battle of Shina, in Africa, Fought in 1800" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 14 Jun 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/41867/the-battle-of-shina,-in-africa,-fought-in-1800>.

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