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The Wreck of the Barque Wm. Paterson of Liverpool

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

Ye landsmen all attend my verse, and I'll tell to ye a tale
Concerning the barque "Wm. Paterson" that was lost in a tempestuous gale;
She was on a voyage from Bangkok to the Clyde with a cargo of Teakwood,
And the crew numbered Fifteen in all of seamen firm and good.

'Twas on the 11th of March, when a violent gale from the southward broke out,
And for nine days during tempestuous weather their ship was tossed about
By the angry sea, and the barque she sprang a leak,
Still the crew wrought at the pumps till their hearts were like to break.

And the pumps were kept constantly going for fourteen long hours,
And the poor men were drenched to the skin with sea spray showers;
Still they wrougnt at the pumps till they became rather clogged
Until at last the barque became thoroughly water-logged.

Oh! hard was the fate of these brave men,
While the water did rush in from stern to stem,
Poor souls,'twas enough to have driven them frantic,
To be drifting about water-logged in the Atlantic. At last she became unmanageable and her masts had to be cut away,
Which the brave crew performed quickly without delay;
Still gales of more or less violence prevailed every day,
Whilst the big waves kept dashing o'er them, likewise the spray.

And with the fearful hurricane the deckhouse and galley were carried away,
Yet the thought of a speedy deliverance kept up their courage day by day,
And the captain prepared for the breaking up of the ship without dismay,
And to save his rations he reduced each man to two biscuits a day.

The brave heroes managed to save a pinnace about fifteen feet long,
And into it thirteen of the crew quickly and cautiously did throng,
With two bags of biscuits and a cask of water out of the tank.
And for these precious mercies, God they did thank;

Who is the giver of all good things,
And to those that put their trust in him often succour brings
And such has been the case with these brave men at sea,
That sent Captain McMullan to save them and bring them to Dundee.

When once into the pinnace they improvised a sail into a tent,
Which to the crew some little shelter lent;
Still every day they were drifting towards the coast of Greenland,
Yet they hoped in God that speedy deliverance might be near at hand.

And as every day passed by they felt woe begone,
Because no sail could they see on the horizon;
And they constructed a sea anchor to keep the boat's head to sea,
And not withstanding their hardships they stood out bravely.

And on the 19th of March a ship hove in sight,
Which proved to be the "Slieve Roe" to their delight;
Then they hoisted a signal of distress when they espied the "Slieve Roe,"
But it was not seen on account of the wreck being in the water so low.

But as soon as Captain McMullan knew it was a signal of distress,
Then heroically and quickly his men he did address,
He cried! come my men keep the ship close to the wind,
And let's try if we can these unfortunate souls find.

And as the "Slieve Roe" to them drew near,
Poor souls they gave a hearty cheer;
Then they were immediately taken on board,
And they thanked Captain McMullan for saving them, likewise the Lord.

Then a crew from the "Slieve Roe" were sent away,
For the two remaining members of the crew without delay;
The Captain and a Sailor, together with a cat and a pet dog,
Which had been the companions of the sailors, and seemed as frisky as a frog.

And when they had all got safe on board,
With one accord they thanked the Lord;
And Captain McMullan kindly did them treat,
By giving them dry clothing and plenty of meat.

And for his kind treatment unto them he deserves great praise,
For his many manly and kindly ways,
By saving so many lives during the time he has been at sea,
And in particular for fetching the crew of the "Wm. Paterson" safe to Dundee.

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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 Wreck of the Barque Wm. Paterson of Liverpool" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 16 Jun 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/41949/the-wreck-of-the-barque-wm.-paterson-of-liverpool>.

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