Vincent Caprani
A melodramatic tragedy concocted of evergreen favourites, odds-and-ends, bits-and-pieces and a cast of thousands!
It was the schooner Hesperus
That sailed the wintry seas
Homeward bound from Katmandu
And the heights of the Himalees

With a cargo of yellow idols,
And a skipper called Mad Carew
And a thousand Bengal Lancers
Making up the gallant crew.

They set a course for the Inchcape Rock
With sails set fore and square
Crying: ‘Oh to be in England
Now that April’s there!’

For the crew were tired and weary,
And hadn’t slept a wink
With water, water everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.

’Twas Friday morn when they set sail
And the ocean waves did rage
But ’stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage’.

When at last they spied a mermaid
With a comb held in her hand
Says Mad Carew: ‘We’re doomed!
We never shall see land…

’Tis the curse of those green-eyed monsters
That we robbed from Katmandu;
They’ve nailed me once before,
So I know a thing or two!’

Then up spoke Ralph the Rover;
His voice was soft and calm:
‘Boys,’ says he, ‘yez don’t know me
And none of you care a damn,

But East is East, and West is West,
And never the twain shall meet
So ye Mariners of England—
You’re doomed of all the fleet!’

Then he lit his pipe so calmly
And tossed away the match…
Which settled on the dynamite
That lay beneath the hatch.

‘Yes boys,’ says he, ‘this curse is true,
No wonder I perspire.
I’ll bet my poke within an hour
This ship will be on fire.’

Now Sam Magee was from Tennessee
Where the cotton blooms and grows
And he was first to see the flames
That there and then arose.

‘Yo-ho-ho and a bottle o’ rum,
And the devil has done for the rest!’
Sang the sprightly Sam as he sprang to the mast
And raced for the crow’s nest.

‘I am monarch of all I survey!’
From up aloft he quipped,
And he did a little sailor’s jig—
Just before he slipped!

For the mast was tall and the mast was wet
And the wind was a whetted blade…
Full fathom five poor Sam lies,
Of his bones are coral made.

Meanwhile, below, the flames still leaped
And the gunwales they were tinder;
The fire spread out and it quickly burned
The mizzen to a cinder;

And the boys stood on the burning deck
And called out to the shore:
‘We could not love thee half so much,
Loved we not honour more!’

But Honor Moore was far away,
At the burial of her dad.
(Corunna town was hushed that night
and the troops were very sad.)

Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,
As his corse to the ramparts they carried,
And poor Honor Moore, who loved Carew,
Was hoping to get married!

Yet still upon the Hesperus
The crew were wild with panic:
‘Let’s change our luck! Rename the ship—
let’s christen it Titanic!’

Sir Ralph the Rover walked the deck,
He didn’t fear the ashes,
And he fixed his eye on a brighter speck
And he saw the hopeful flashes.

‘Here’s the very thing we need
To quell this raging fire—
An iceberg standing two miles high,
A lofty snow-white spire!

Full steam ahead! Stand by the sheets…
Bosun be not tardy!’
Sir Ralph then turned to Mad Carew
And whispered ‘Kiss me, Hardy.’

But the skipper turned his one blind eye:
‘Bejaysus, you’re a beauty—
Do you not know that England now,
Expects each to do his duty?’

Then the rush of wind, the ramp the roar,
As the decks did pitch and roll
When up stepped the young lad Oliver,
A-twisting of his bowl,

And bravely to the captain said:
‘I know I am a goner…
But if you please, I would like some Moore…
And I rather fancy Honor!’

But meanwhile on a nearby shore
And a-gazing out to sea
Young Mary, calling cattle home
Across the sands of Dee,

Beheld the ice, beheld the ship,
Beheld the awful plight,
And clapped her hands with girlish glee,
Crying ‘Oh what a pretty sight!’

‘No, no, alas!’ her father cried.
‘Help must now be sought!
I’ll saddle up—bring forth the horse!’
The horse was quickly brought.

‘The brigade I’ll fetch,’ the father vowed,
‘The brave and bold six hundred,
And I’ll save the ship, ’pon my word,
Before the vessel’s sundered!’

Then he sprang to the stirrup,
And Joris and he,
They galloped, Dierke galloped,
We galloped all three.

‘God speed!’ cried the Watch,
As the gate bolts undrew,
And the Light Brigade followed
And they raced out of view.

The hounds joined in with glorious cry,
The huntsman wound his horn.
D’ye ken John Peel at the break of day?
They’ll be galloping hard till morn!

And young Lochinvar
Came out of the west,
Paul Revere followed,
Dick Turpin, Black Bess;

Guns to the left of them,
Guns to the right,
Half a league onward
Through the pitch black of night!

Half a league onward
Through the cannon smoke’s whiff…
Till the gallant six hundred
Plunged over a cliff,

Crying: ‘Ours not to reason why,
Ours but to leap and fall…’
Bill Brewer, Jan Stewar, Peter Gurney,
Peter Davey, Dan Whiddon,
Harry Hawke and Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all…
And Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all!

‘Oh my, what fun!’ young Mary cried.
‘I hope it will not pass!’
Alas, alas, it was too late—
The ship was going fast.

Three times around went the Hesperus,
Three times around went she,
And all the Bengal Lancers
Soon perished in the sea.

The last to go was Mad Carew,
A-clinging to the rudder…
‘Gone, gone!’ Mary cried,
‘And never called me Mother!’

And now when Mary milks the cows,
Herself and Honor Moore,
They think of all the lads that drowned,
’Specially poor Bill Brewer.

On the bonnie braes of Yarrow
They sometimes sit and brood
And there flashes on that inward eye,
That bliss of solitude,

A raging sea, the lofty ice,
The flames that will not fade,
A host of golden daffodils,
The charge of the Light Brigade.

And down their cheeks the pearly tears
Often times will stray,
And Mary to Miss Honor Moore
Is often heard to say:

‘We must go down to the sea again,
To the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a blazing ship—
And an iceberg two miles high!’
The end