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Description

Date: 4 March 1915

Transcript:

THE QUEER OLD MAN OF THE SEA.

Wending my way round the tittle bay,
Watching the seagulls' flight,
I saw a man with an old tin can—
A funny, old, curious sight.
A curious sort of old cove he was,
The quaintest I've ever seen;
An' he says to me, "I belong to the sea,
In the Mercantile Marine."

He'd a deep-sea cap, not worth a rap,
An' the coat that he had on,
Well, I must admit it was torn a bit,
An' had most of its buttons gone.
An' he wore a pair—well, 'tis hardly fair
His trousers to criticise;
While the boots he wore, I could ha' swore
Were each of a different size. .

[cartoon showing a sailor and an old man]
A funny old cove.

"Ye belong to the sea?" he says to me
"Ye wouldn't think I had been
A sailor too; but I've sailed the blue
In the Mercantile Marine
North, south, and west. What I like the best"—
An' he rubbed his hands with glee—
Is the glorious east, where ye're free at least
From the Huns of Germany!"

And he shook his fist as the words he hissed,
An' he spat on the silvery sand,
An' made a grimace. "The German race
Are dirty and underhand."
I nodded my head at the words he said.
"You can take it from me," said he,
"That on land or sea brutality
Is the nature of Germany.

[cartoon showing the old man]
"I belong to the sea."

"Twixt me an' you, what I say is true;
They're a cowardly race!" he cried.
"They've a Navy—yes, but they must confess
That all that it does is hide!
When we show a gun away they run,
And their latest trick has been
To sink, at sight, ships that cannot fight,
That's the Mercantile Marine.

"I've a tale to tell 'bout the Heather Belle,
A four-masted barque was she.
In the eastern trade we a record made,
Out and home from Trincomali,
Not so long ago. Now she's down below,
Torpedoed in broad daylight
By a submarine, that approached unseen,
And which knew that we couldn't fight.

[cartoon of the old man shaking his fist]
A dirty low trick.

"On that fatal trip we'd aboard the ship
Four-and-twenty all told," said he.
Then his face grew grim, an' his eyes grew dim,
"An' they're all down below, bar me.
I was heaving the lead, off Beachy Head,
When a German submarine
Struck the ship below with a torpedo—
A dirty low trick, and mean.

"A mighty roar, then I knew no more.
When I came to myself, old man,
I was hanging on tight, yes, with all my might,
To the brim of this old tin can.
In an hour or more I was washed ashore."
Then he stopped and he looked at me.
"I was washed ashore—and I know no more,
Where I am is a mystery!

[cartoon of the old man in the water]
Holding on tight.

"But I know full well that the Heather Belle
Lies deep in the dark blue sea,
And I know 'tis true of her gallant crew,
There went down with her twenty-three.
But the day's at hand when that pirate band"—
Here he gritted his teeth and swore—
"Will be swept away for ever and aye,
And pollute the seas no more."

Then be said good-day and he turned away.
'Tis the last I have ever seen
Of the queer old man, with the old tin can,
Of the Mercantile Marine.
Yes, the day will come when the German scum
Will get all they're asking for;
And the boundless sea will again be free,
And the Pirates will be no more.


Source:
McMann, W. 'Jack's Yarns: "The Queer Old Man of the Sea".' The Brecon County Times. 4 Mar. 1915. 2.

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