HOW I DISCOVERED THE NORTH POLE
H. S. Richards
Yes sir! I've sailed north an' south, an' east an' west as well,
An' many an' many a thrillin' tale... if I'd a mind to tell
Would make your 'air stand up on end, afore I'd well begun ;
But no, I never brags... not I, o' what I've been an' done.
Did I ever catch a whale, Sir? Well, I ain't agoin' to shout,
But I think no more o' catching whales, than you o' catching trout.
I've chased 'em round the icebergs, an' I've caught 'em by the
What Sir?... do I believe as Peary ever reached the Pole?
Has the North Pole been discovered by Peary or by Cook?
Well, that depends, ye see sir, how explorers tales is took;
This tale o' Peary's may be true, but then again, it mayn't;
Perhaps Cook's story is correct... but then perhaps it ain't.
An' there ye have it! All this fuss about the bloomin' pole,
It sort o' kind o' makes me sick! It riles me, bless my soul,
I ain't agoin' to strut about, an' flap my wings an' crow,
But I discovered it myself, eleven years ago.
I never said a word about it, not a single word,
Just left it there... come 'ome again, an' no one never heard;
What! tell you all about it? Well, perhaps I'd have a try,
If it warn't for this 'ere nasty cough, as makes my throat so
Yes, 'alf a pint would do me right... I answers "Same to you."
Ah! that's O.K. that is! Now mind this story's true
There ain't no trimmin's on this tale... there ain't a single
Why for miles an' miles around Sir, they calls me Truthful Bill."
An' by that name, since I was quite a youngster, I've been known,
What I'm agoin' to tell ye, Sir, is facts an' facts alone:
So listen while I thrills ye with a tale o' Eskimos,
An' Polar Bears an' Walrusses a-fightin' on the floes
Of 'Rory Boryalisses', of silent solitood,
Of Ninety-three degrees o' frost an' not a bit o' food,
Of Northern Lights now flashin' out, now flickerin' an' faint;
It sounds just like a sailor's yarn, it do... but then it ain't.
I set sail on the fust o' April, eighteen ninety-nine,
In the good ship 'Ananias' o' the White Star Cunard Line.
We anchored off Cape Walker on the last day o' the year,
An' there we found our stores... fourteen gross o' bottled beer,
A dozen cans o' Beecham's Pills, an' four o' Quaker Oats,
A ton o' Tallow Candles, sealskin breeches, hoods an' coats.
An' half a ton o' potted meat... tho' most of it was froze
A motor sledge, a dozen dogs, an' thirteen Eskimos.
My beatin' 'eart was full o' 'ope, the air was full o' snow,
A bitter blast was blowin' such a bitter blasted blow
The sky grew black, we started off 'neath heavin's darkenin' frown,
With icebergs right an' left o' us, a bobbin' up an' down.
But still we struggled on Sir, and the darkness grew more dense,
An' it seemed to get much colder as the frost grew more intense;
Then after fifteen weeks we found we hadn't any food,
So we ate the tallow candles, fricasseed an' biled, an' stood.
Then I struggled on undaunted, altho' famishin' an' froze,
All by myself... for dead, Sir, was the dozen Eskimos,
The climate undermined their constitutions, an' enough!
I'll say no more... tho' all of 'em was most oncommon tough.
On! on! still on! before me there was fog an' ice an' snow,
An' two an' twenty Polar Bears a sittin' in a row;
I shov'd 'em off, an' struggled on, the snow above, beneath,
An' not a sound was heard except the chatterin' o' my teeth.
Then in that silent solidtood I shouted in my woe
"Oh, shall I ever reach the Pole" an' echo answered, "No."
That settled it, I turned me round, an' started to walk home,
When in the gloamin' just where it was tryin' for to gloam,
I saw a light as filled with joy my palpitatin' breast
The Pole was stickin' up about a furlong to the West
The 'Rory Boryalis' was a flamin' at the top,
An' the Northern lights was flashin' like they never meant to stop.
My feelin's overcome me, Sir, I fell upon my knees;
I pictured Sir, the " Stars and Stripes " a-flutterin' in the breeze,
Nailed to the Pole by this 'ere hand, as 'olds this empty mug
Yes, thank ye Sir, the same agen! I'll take it in a jug.
Well Sir, I struggled to my feet, my knees gave way, I fell
I hadn't tasted food for seven days, so you may tell,
I didn't feel particularly fit, but should I fail,
An' perish when in sight o' goal, with none to tell the tale?
No! no! I sucked a chunk o' ice, an' then crawled on ahead,
Gettin' weaker every moment, till my 'eart was full o' dread;
With pain I got upon my feet, then one wild dash the goal
Was reached-I sank exhausted at the bottom of the Pole.
Then I unfurled the "Stars and Stripes "... I hadn't any nails;
Was I downhearted? Not a bit! Cos why?... I never fails!
I climbed the Pole, an' at the top, where now it can be seen,
I fixed the flag securely, with a tube o' Seccotine.
An' there it floats to-day, Sir, right atop the frozen zone,
'Midst seals an' bears an' walrusses... I did it Sir!... alone!!
I threw my arms around the Pole an' clasped it to my breast,
While tears o' joy ran down my nose, an' froze upon my chest.
I pressed it to my beatin' 'eart I did, Sir, then a crack
An' as it snapped off short, an' left me strugglin' on my back,
I heard the voice of Susan Ann in accents loud an' bold
Exclaimin', "Eight o'clock, your shavin' water's gettin' cold."