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Wreck of the Schooner Samuel Crawford

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

'Twas in the year of 1886, and on the 29th of November,
Which the surviving crew of the "Samuel Crawford" will long remember,
She was bound to Baltimore with a cargo of pine lumber;
But, alas! the crew suffered greatly from cold and hunger.

'Twas on December 3rd when about ten miles south-west
Of Currituck light, and scudding at her best;
That a heavy gale struck her a merciless blow,
Which filled the hearts of the crew with fear and woe.

Then the merciless snow came down, hiding everything from view,
And as the night closed in the wind tempestuous blew;
Still the brave crew reefed the spanker and all the sails,
While not one amongst them with fear bewails.

Still the gallant little schooner ploughed on the seas,
Through the blinding snow and the stormy breeze;
Until it increased to a fearful hurricane,
Yet the crew wrought manfully and didn't complain.

But during the night the wind it harder blew,
And the brave little schooner was hove to;
And on the morning of December the 4th the wind died out,
But it rent the schooner from stem to stern without any doubt.

And the seas were running mountains high,
While the poor sailors, no doubt, heaved many a sigh;
Because they must have felt cold, and the schooner sprung a leak,
Still they wrought while their hearts were like to break.

Then the wind it sprang up in terrific fury again,
But the crew baled out the water with might and main;
But still the water fast on them did gain,
Yet the brave heroes disdained to complain.

On the morning of December the 4th she was scudding before a hurricane,
And the crew were exhausted, but managed the poop to gain;
And the vessel was tossed like a cork on the wave,
While the brave crew expected to meet with a watery grave.

And huge beams and pine planks were washed overboard,
While Captain Tilton looked on and said never a word;
And the crew likewise felt quite content,
Until the fore-and-aft rigging overboard went.

Then loudly for help to God they did cry,
And to their earnest prayer He did draw nigh;
And saved them from a watery grave,
When help from Him they did crave.

Poor souls they expected to be engulfed every hour,
And to appease their hunger they made dough with salt water and flour;
And made a sort of hard cake placed over a griddle hole,
To satisfy their hunger, which, alas! is hard to thole.

And two of these cakes each man got per day,
Which the poor creatures devoured in a ravenous way;
Along with a little fresh water to wash it down,
Which they most thankfully praised God for and didn't frown.

And on the 10th of December when they had burned their last light,
The ship "Orinoco" bound for New York hove in sight;
And they were rescued safely and taken on board,
And they thanked the Captain, and likewise the Lord.

Then the Captain of the "Orinoco" ordered her to be set on fire,
Which was quickly done as he did desire;
Which caused the rescued crew to stare in amaze,
And to take the last look of their schooner in a blaze.

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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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    "Wreck of the Schooner Samuel Crawford" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 14 Jun 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/41960/wreck-of-the-schooner-samuel-crawford>.

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