William Topaz McGonagall
The Bonnie Lass O' Ruily
Poem by William Topaz McGonagall
'Twas in the village of Ruily there lived a bonnie lass
With red, pouting lips which few lasses could surpass,
And her eyes were as azure the blue sky,
Which caused Donald McNeill to heave many a love sigh
Beyond the township of Ruily she never had been,
This pretty maid with tiny feet and aged eighteen;
And when Donald would ask her to be his wife,
"No," she would say, "I'm not going to stay here all my life."
"I'm sick of this life," she said to Donald one day,
"By making the parridge and carrying peats from the bog far away."
"Then marry me, Belle, and peats you shall never carry again,
And we might take a trip to Glasgow and there remain."
Then she answered him crossly, "I wish you wouldn't bother me,
For I'm tired of this kind of talk, as you may see."
So at last there came a steamer to Ruily one day,
So big that if almost seemed to fill the bay.
Then Belle and Effie Mackinnon came to the door with a start,
While Belle's red, pouting lips were wide apart;
But when she saw the Redcoats coming ashore
She thought she had never seen such splendid men before.
One day after the steamer "Resistless" had arrived,
Belle's spirits seemed suddenly to be revived;
And as Belle was lifting peats a few feet from the door
She was startled by a voice she never heard before.
The speaker wore a bright red coat and a small cap,
And she thought to herself he is a handsome chap;
Then the speaker said, "'Tis a fine day," and began to flatter,
Until at last he asked Belle for a drink of watter.
Then she glanced up at him shyly, while uneasy she did feel,
At the thought of having to hoist the peat-creel;
And she could see curly, fair hair beneath his cap,
Still, she thought to herself, he is a good-looking chap.
And his eyes were blue and sparkling as the water in the bay,
And he spoke in a voice that was pleasant and gay;
Then he took hold of the peat-creel as he spoke,
But Belle only laughed and considered it a joke.
Then Belle shook her head and lifted the peats on her back,
But he followed her home whilst to her he did crack;
And by and by she brought him a drink of watter,
While with loving words he began Belle to flatter.
And after he had drank the watter and handed back the jug,
He said, "You are the sweetest flower that's to be found in Ruily";
And he touched her bare arm as he spoke,
Which proved to be sailor Harry's winning stroke.
But it would have been well for Belle had it ended there,
But it did not, for the sailor followed her, I do declare;
And he was often at old Mackinnon's fireside,
And there for hours on an evening he would abide.
And Belle would wait on him with love-lit eyes,
While Harry's heart would heave with many love sighs.
At last, one night Belle said, "I hear you're going away."
Then Harry Lochton said, "'Tis true, Belie, and I must obey.
But, my heather Belle, if you'll leave Ruily with me
I'll marry you, with your father's consent, immediately."
Then she put her arms around his neck and said, "Harry, I will."
Then Harry said, "You'll be a sailor's wife for good or ill."
In five days after Belie got married to her young sailor lad,
And there was a grand wedding, and old Mackinnon felt glad;
And old Mackinnon slapped his son-in-law on the back
And said, "I hope good health and money you will never lack."
At last the day came that Harry had to go away,
And Harry said, "God bless you, Belle, by night and day;
But you will come to Portsmouth and I will meet you there,
Remember, at the railway platform, and may God of you take care."
And when she arrived in Portsmouth she was amazed at the sight,
But when she saw Harry her heart beat with delight;
And when the train stopped, Harry to her quickly ran,
And took her tin-box from the luggage van.
Then he took her to her new home without delay,
And the endless stairs and doors filled her heart with dismay;
But for that day the hours flew quickly past,
Because she knew she was with her Harry at last.
But there came a day when Harry was ordered away,
And he said, "My darling, I'll come back some unexpected day."
Then he kissed her at parting and "Farewell" he cries,
While the tears fell fast from her bonnie blue eyes.
Then when Harry went away she grew very ill,
And she cried, "If Harry stays long away this illness will me kill."
At last Harry came home and found her ill in bed,
And he cried, "My heather Belle, you're as pale as the dead."
Then she cried, "Harry, sit so as I may see your face,
Beside me here, Harry, that's just the place."
Then on his shoulder she gently dropped her head;
Then Harry cried, "Merciful heaven, my heather Belle is dead!"
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