O beautiful ship Titanic
Of the White Star Line,
Your tragic tale shall be remembered
For a very long time.
Twas in the Month of April,
on the Fourteenth day,
That a disaster happened
Which took more than fifteen hundred lives away.
They were heading t'wards Americ's shore
In the middle of the night,
When the lookout spied an iceberg,
Which gave him quite a fright.
They turned the wheel hard to Port,
And then again to Starboard,
But they hit the iceberg anyway.
The hull was rent like cardboard.
They tried to make the passengers
Get into the lifeboats,
But they said that it was too cold,
To be outside without their coats.
But Mr J Bruce Ismay of the White Star Line,
Persuaded them, because
He got into a lifeboat,
To show how safe it was.
And Mr Guggenheim was there,
With his valet by his side.
They both wore Evening Dress,
For to drown while badly dressed they could not abide.
They tried to make Mrs Strauss,
Get into a lifeboat,
But she wouldn't leave her husband.
They will never be forgot.
Joughin, the Ship's Baker,
Had imbibed the Demon Drink,
He jumped into the water,
He was lucky not to sink.
But they pulled him in a lifeboat,
And he survived the night,
But he signed the Pledge when he got home,
'Cause he got such a fright.
The hero of the hour
Was Second Officer Lightoller
And I think that his example
We should all be sure to follow.
He did his duties bravely,
Though people swore and cursed,
Enforcing the Rule of the Sea,
'Women and Children first'
A wave washed him from off the deck,
Into the icy brine,
But he survived to tell the tale,
And defend the White Star Line.
At last the great Leviathan,
Slipped down below the water.
The Engineers stayed at their posts,
They never once did falter.
And Captain E.J. Smith,
On the bridge until the last,
Might not have hit the iceberg,
If he hadn't gone too fast.
I think it's fair to assume that most people have heard of Scotland's greatest poet, Robert Burns. Scotland had another great poet, though - not as widely known as Rabbie, but greatly respected among those familiar with his works. I refer, of course, to William McGonagall, Poet and Tragedian. McGonagall wrote many a fine piece, but he is arguably best known for his 'Tay Bridge' trilogy, commemorating the building of a bridge over the River Tay:
Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay!
With your numerous arches and pillars in so grand
When it collapsed in a storm in 1879, he wrote its eulogy:
Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away.....
and when the fine new bridge was constructed in its place, a bridge which is there to this day, he sang its praises:
Beautiful new railway bridge of the Silvery Tay
With your strong brick piers and buttresses in so grand
He was a prolific writer, specialising in the heroic, and an event like the Titanic disaster would inspire him to the heights of epic drama displayed in this poem. How tragic it was that he died in 1902, ten years before Titanic.
If you'd like to learn more about McGonagall,try McGonagall Online, a website dedicated to the Great Man. It includes autobiographical writings, and all of his Poetic Gems.