Welcome to Poetry.com

Poetry.com is a huge collection of poems from famous and amateur poets from around the world — collaboratively published by a community of authors and contributing editors.

Navigate through our poetry database by subjects, alphabetically or simply search by keywords. You can submit a new poem, discuss and rate existing work, listen to poems using voice pronunciation and even translate pieces to many common and not-so-common languages.

The Wreck of the Whaler Oscar

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

'Twas on the 1st of April, and in the year of Eighteen thirteen,
That the whaler "Oscar" was wrecked not far from Aberdeen;
'Twas all on a sudden the wind arose, and a terrific blast it blew,
And the "Oscar" was lost, and forty-two of a gallant crew.

The storm burst forth with great violence, but of short duration,
And spread o'er a wide district, and filled the people's hearts with consternation,
And its effects were such that the people will long mind,
Because at Peterhead the roof was torn off a church by the heavy wind.

The "Oscar" joined other four ships that were lying in Aberdeen Bay,
All ready to start for Geeenland without delay,
While the hearts of each ship's crew felt light and gay,
But, when the storm burst upon them, it filled their hearts with dismay.

The wind had been blowing westerly during the night,
But suddenly it shifted to the North-east, and blew with all its might,
And thick and fast fell the blinding snow,
Which filled the poor sailors' hearts with woe.

And the "Oscar" was exposed to the full force of the gale,
But the crew resolved to do their best, allowing they should fail,
So they weighed anchor, and stood boldly out for sea,
While the great crowds that had gathered cheered them encouragingly.

The ill-fated "Oscar," however, sent a boat ashore
For some of her crew that were absent, while the angry sea did roar,
And 'twas with great difficulty the men got aboard,
And to make the ship allright they wrought with one accord.

Then suddenly the wind shifted, and a treacherous calm ensued,
And the vessel's deck with snow was thickly strewed;
And a heavy sea was running with a strong flood tide,
And it soon became apparent the men wouldn't be able the ship to guide.

And as the "Oscar" drifted further and further to leeward,
The brave crew tried hard her backward drifting to retard,
But all their efforts proved in vain, for the storm broke out anew,
While the drifting snow hid her from the spectators' view.

And the position of the "Oscar" was critical in the extreme,
And as the spray washed o'er the vessel, O what a soul-harrowing scene!
And notwithstanding the fury of the gale and the blinding snow,
Great crowds watched the "Oscar" as she was tossed to and fro.

O heaven! it was a most heart-rending sight
To see the crew struggling against the wind and blinding snow with all their might,
While the mighty waves lashed her sides and angry did roar,
Which to their relatives were painful to see that were standing on shore.

All eagerly watching her attempt to ride out the storm,
Especially their friends and relatives, who seemed very forlorn,
Because the scene was awe-inspiring and made them stand aghast,
For every moment seemed to be the "Oscar's" last.

Oh! it was horrible to see the good ship in distress,
Battling hard against wind and tide to clear the Girdleness.
A conspicuous promontory on the south side of Aberdeen Bay,
Where many a stout ship and crew have gone down passing that way.

At last the vessel was driven ashore in the bay of Greyhope,
And the "Oscar" with the elements no longer could cope.
While the big waves lashed her furiously, and she received fearful shocks,
Until a mighty wave hurled her among large boulders of rocks.

And when the vessel struck, the crew stood aghast,
But they resolved to hew down the mainmast,
Which the spectators watched with eager interest,
And to make it fall on the rocks the brave sailors tried their best.

But, instead of falling on the rocks, it dropped into the angry tide,
Then a groan arose from those that were standing on the shore side;
And the mainmast in its fall brought down the foremast,
Then all hope of saving the crew seemed gone at last.

And a number of the crew were thrown into the boiling surge below,
While loud and angry the stormy wind did blow,
And the good ship was dashed to pieces from stern to stem,
Within a yard or two from their friends, who were powerless to save them.

Oh! it was an appalling sight to see the "Oscar" in distress,
While to the forecastle was seen clinging brave Captain Innes
And five of a crew, crying for help, which none could afford,
Alas! poor fellows, crying aloud to God with one accord!

But their cry to God for help proved all in vain,
For the ship and men sank beneath the briny main,
And out of a crew of forty-four men, only two were saved,
But, landsmen, think how manfully that unfortunate crew behaved.

And also think o
Rate this poem:(0.00 / 0 votes)
Font size:
Collection  Edit     
 

Submitted on May 13, 2011

4:01 min read
65 Views

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

FAVORITE (0 fans)

Discuss this William Topaz McGonagall poem with the community:

0 Comments

    Translation

    Find a translation for this poem in other languages:

    Select another language:

    • - Select -
    • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
    • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
    • Español (Spanish)
    • Esperanto (Esperanto)
    • 日本語 (Japanese)
    • Português (Portuguese)
    • Deutsch (German)
    • العربية (Arabic)
    • Français (French)
    • Русский (Russian)
    • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
    • 한국어 (Korean)
    • עברית (Hebrew)
    • Gaeilge (Irish)
    • Українська (Ukrainian)
    • اردو (Urdu)
    • Magyar (Hungarian)
    • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
    • Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Italiano (Italian)
    • தமிழ் (Tamil)
    • Türkçe (Turkish)
    • తెలుగు (Telugu)
    • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
    • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
    • Čeština (Czech)
    • Polski (Polish)
    • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Românește (Romanian)
    • Nederlands (Dutch)
    • Ελληνικά (Greek)
    • Latinum (Latin)
    • Svenska (Swedish)
    • Dansk (Danish)
    • Suomi (Finnish)
    • فارسی (Persian)
    • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
    • հայերեն (Armenian)
    • Norsk (Norwegian)
    • English (English)

    Citation

    Use the citation below to add this poem to your bibliography:

    Style:MLAChicagoAPA

    "The Wreck of the Whaler Oscar" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 13 Apr. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/41957/the-wreck-of-the-whaler-oscar>.

    We need you!

    Help us build the largest poetry community and poems collection on the web!

    Browse Poetry.com

    Quiz

    Are you a poetry master?

    »
    In poetry, the word "foot" refers to _______.
    • A. two or more syllables
    • B. one stanza
    • C. a unit of 12 lines
    • D. a dozen poems

    Our favorite collection of

    Famous Poets

    »
    Poetry.com

    Thanks for your vote! We truly appreciate your support.