William Topaz McGonagall
The Collision In The English Channel
Poem by William Topaz McGonagall
'Twas on a Sunday morning, and in the year of 1888,
The steamer "Saxmundham," laden with coal and coke for freight,
Was run into amidships by the Norwegian barque "Nor,"
And sunk in the English Channel, while the storm fiend did roar.
She left Newcastle on Friday, in November, about two o'clock,
And proceeded well on her way until she received a shock;
And the effects of the collision were so serious within,
That, within twenty minutes afterwards, with water she was full to the brim.
The effects of the collision were so serious the water cduldn't be staunched,
So immediately the "Saxmundham's" jolly-boat was launched;
While the brave crew were busy, and loudly did clatter,
Because, at this time, the stem of the steamer was under water.
Then the bold crew launched the lifeboat, without dismay,
While their hearts did throb, but not a word did they say;
They they tried to launch the port lifeboat, but in that they failed,
Owing to the heavy sea, so their sad fate they bewailed.
Then into the jolly-boat and lifeboat jumped fifteen men in all,
And immediately the steamer foundered, which did their hearts appal,
As the good ship sank beneath the briny wave,
But they thanked God fervently that did them save.
Oh! it was a miracle how any of them were saved,
But it was by the aid of God, and how the crew behaved;
Because God helps those that help themselves,
And those that don't try to do so are silly elves.
So the two boats cruised about for some time,
Before it was decided to pull for St. Catherine;
And while cruising about they must have been ill,
But they succeeded in picking up an engineer and fireman, also Captain Milne.
And at daybreak on Sunday morning the men in the lifeboat
Were picked up by the schooner "Waterbird" as towards her they did float,
And landed at Weymouth, and made all right
By the authorities, who felt for them in their sad plight.
But regarding the barque "Nor," to her I must return,
And, no doubt, for the drowned men, many will mourn;
Because the crew's sufferings must have been great,
Which, certainly, is soul-harrowing to relate.
The ill-fated barque was abandoned in a sinking state,
But all her crew were saved, which I'm happy to relate;
They were rescued by the steamer "Hagbrook" in the afternoon,
When after taking to their boats, and brought to Portland very soon.
The barque "Nor" was bound from New York to Stettin,
And when she struck the "Saxmundham," oh! what terrible din!
Because the merciless water did rush in,
Then the ship carpenters to patch the breach did begin.
But, alas! all their efforts proved in vain,
For still the water did on them gain;
Still they resolved to save her whatever did betide,
But, alas! the ill-fated "Nor" sank beneath the tide.
But thanks be to God, the major part of the men have been saved,
And all honour to both crews that so manfully behaved;
And may God protect the mariner by night and by day
When on the briny deep, far, far away!
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