Edwin James Brady

The Gale

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It came upon us sudden; six solid hours it blew
As if a thousand devils had gallivanted through
The portholes of Perdition; in all me years of sail
I never seen such damage nor met with such a gale.

Although I’d been in tea ships an’ come through one cyclone,
I’d say it was the father of all the winds that’s blown
Behind the Flyin’ Dutchman; an uncle to the breeze
That drove the men to murder when Jonah sailed the seas.

Of anything unbolted it never left a trace..
It caught the bos’n’s whiskers and tore ‘em off ‘is face;
It blew a blinkin’ birthmark from off the bosn’s mate;
And flattened out the anchor an’ pulled the ringbolts straight.

Waal, fust we lost the foresail… an’ it ‘ad just been bent..
And the ‘er upper tops’l to Helen Glory went.
‘Er decks were full of water, which poured in briny streams
from bowsprit-heel to starn-post ‘an opened up ‘er seams.

Then over goes to pigsty, ‘an no one chucked the pig
A lifebelt as ‘e left us; for in that whirlygig
Of rippin’ cloth and timber we had no time to save
The Old Man’s near relation from ‘is appointed grave.

Next all the blinkin’ lifeboats were smashed to smithereens
Which left no pleasant prospects by any sort of means
Before a Christian sailor with knowledge facin’ him
Of nothing in the locker and forty miles to swim.

An’ then the old tarpaulin upon the main ‘atch tore,
And then the cargo shifted. But what ‘ad ‘urt us more
Was losin’ of our cuddy, in which the cook had been
Preparin’ of our breakfast last time that ‘e was seen.

In thirty-nine south latitude, east sixty-six degrees
a-floatin’ on his galley, the Bible on ‘is knees
we found the cook at midday; which time the gale had passed
‘An let us rig a stunsail upon a jury mast.

Aye, whole and hale we found ‘im ‘an praisin’ of the Lord
We got a lifeline round ‘im and ‘auled ‘im safe aboard;
And while we manned the windlass to pump ‘er partly dry.
That cook found pork and biscuits to make a Sunday pie.

She ‘ad a list to the larboard would make your hair turn grey
But like a log we rolled ‘er at last to Table Bay;
In all me years of travel, in all me years of sail,
I never seen such damage or weathered such a gale.

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Edwin James Brady