William Topaz McGonagall
John Rouat The Fisherman - Poem by William Topaz McGonagall
Margaret Simpson was the daughter of humble parents in the county of Ayr,
With a comely figure, and face of beauty rare,
And just in the full bloom of her womanhood,
Was united to John Rouat, a fisherman good.
John's fortune consisted of his coble, three oars, and his fishing-gear,
Besides his two stout boys, John and James, he loved most dear.
And no matter how the wind might blow, or the rain pelt,
Or scarcity of fish, John little sorrow felt.
While sitting by the clear blazing hearth of his home,
With beaming faces around it, all his own.
But John, the oldest son, refused his father obedience,
Which John Rouat considered a most grievous offence.
So his father tried to check him, but all wouldn't do,
And John joined a revenue cutter as one of its crew;
And when his father heard it he bitterly did moan,
And angrily forbade him never to return home.
Then shortly after James ran away to sea without his parent's leave,
So John Rouat became morose, and sadly did grieve.
But one day he received a letter, stating his son John was dead,
And when he read the sad news all comfort from him fled.
Then shortly after that his son James was shot,
For allowing a deserter to escape, such was his lot;
And through the death of his two sons he felt dejected,
And the condolence of kind neighbours by him was rejected.
'Twas near the close of autumn, when one day the sky became o'ercast,
And John Rouat, contrary to his wife's will, went to sea at last,
When suddenly the sea began to roar, and angry billows swept along,
And, alas! the stormy tempest for John Rouat proved too strong.
But still he clutched his oars, thinking to keep his coble afloat,
When one 'whelming billow struck heavily against the boat,
And man and boat were engulfed in the briny wave,
While the Storm Fiend did roar and madly did rave.
When Margaret Rouat heard of her husband's loss, her sorrow was very great,
And the villagers of Bute were moved with pity for her sad fate,
And for many days and nights she wandered among the hills,
Lamenting the loss of her husband and other ills.
Until worn out by fatigue, towards a ruinous hut she did creep,
And there she lay down on the earthen Roor, and fell asleep,
And as a herd boy by chance was passing by,
He looked into the hut and the body of Margaret he did espy.
Then the herd boy fled to communicate his fears,
And the hut was soon filled with villagers, and some shed tears.
When they discovered in the unhappy being they had found
Margaret Rouat, their old neighbour, then their sorrow was profound.
Then the men from the village of Bute willingly lent their aid,
To patch up the miserable hut, and great attention to her was paid.
And Margaret Rouat lived there in solitude for many years,
Although at times the simple creature shed many tears.
Margaret was always willing to work for her bread,
Sometimes she herded cows without any dread,
Besides sometimes she was allowed to ring the parish bell,
And for doing so she was always paid right well.
In an old box she kept her money hid away,
But being at the kirk one beautiful Sabbath day,
When to her utter dismay when she returned home,
She found the bottom forced from the box, and the money gone.
Then she wept like a child, in a hysteric fit,
Regarding the loss of her money, and didn't very long survive it.
And as she was wont to descend to the village twice a week,
The villagers missed her, and resolved they would for her seek. Then two men from the village, on the next day
Sauntered up to her dwelling, and to their dismay,
They found the door half open, and one stale crust of bread,
And on a rude pallet lay poor Margaret Rouat cold and dead.
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