William Topaz McGonagall
Calamity In London
Poem by William Topaz McGonagall
'Twas in the year of 1897, and on the night of Christmas day,
That ten persons' lives were taken sway,
By a destructive fire in London, at No. 9 Dixie Street,
Alas! so great was the fire, the victims couldn't retreat.
In Dixie Street, No. 9, if was occupied by two families,
Who were all quite happy, and sitting at their ease;
One of these was a labourer, David Barber and his wife,
And a dear little child, he loved as his life.
Barber's mother and three sisters were living on the ground floor,
And in the upper two rooms lived a family who were very poor,
And all had retired to rest, on the night of Christmas day,
Never dreaming that by ~e their lives would be taken away.
Barber got up on Sunday morning to prepare breakfast for his family,
And a most appalling sight he then did see;
For he found the room was full of smoke,
So dense, indeed, that it nearly did him choke.
Then fearlessly to the room door he did creep,
And tried to aronse the inmates, who were asleep;
And succeeded in getting his own family out into the street,
And to him the thought thereof was surely very sweet.
And by this time the heroic Barber's strength was failing,
And his efforts to warn the family upstairs were unavailing;
And, before the alarm was given, the house was in flames,
Which prevented anything being done, after all his pains.
Oh! it was a horrible and heart-rending sight
To see the house in a blaze of lurid light,
And the roof fallen in, and the windows burnt out,
Alas! 'tis pitiful to relate, without any doubt.
Oh, Heaven! 'tis a dreadful calamity to narrate,
Because the victims have met with a cruel fate;
Little did they think they were going to lose their lives by fire,
On that night when to their beds they did retire.
It was sometime before the gutted house could be entered in,
Then to search for the bodies the officers in charge did begin;
And a horrifying spectacle met their gaze,
Which made them stand aghast in a fit of amaze.
Sometime before the firemen arrived,
Ten persons of their lives had been deprived,
By the choking smoke, and merciless flame,
Which will long in the memory of their relatives remain.
Oh, Heaven! if was a frightful and pitiful sight to see
Seven bodies charred of the Jarvis' family;
And Mrs Jarvis was found with her child, and both carbonised,
And as the searchers gazed thereon they were surprised.
And these were lying beside the fragments of the bed,
And in a chair the tenth victim was sitting dead;
Oh, Horrible! Oh, Horrible! what a sight to behold,
The charred and burnt bodies of young and old.
Good people of high and low degree,
Oh! think of this sad catastrophe,
And pray to God to protect ye from fire,
Every night before to your beds ye retire.
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