Bermuda’s Coral Strand

Found- a handwritten poem. Not sure where it came from but it looks about 90+ years old. The anonymous author calls it ‘doggerel’ in his closing lines. William Plomer might have called it ‘Tough Verse.’ The style is of the stand-up ‘dramatic monologue’ as exemplified by Milton Hayes’s ‘There’s a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Kathmandu…’ or possibly the Grenadier’s marching song (“Some talk of Alexander…’) The reference to fox-hunting in England may indicate the writer was a British expat.

"Bermuda's Coral Strand".

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I've heard of men tell of Clusium
And of the Chinese war,
Of troubles in the East and West,
Of Delhi and Cawnpore,
Of brave Horatius Cocles
Who battled hand to hand,
But never yet in all my days
Have I heard a single word of praise
Of Bermuda's Coral Strand.

2.

Now it does seem very strange to me
That such should be the case
For though there's not much of it
It's a very pretty place,
So, off my coat and up my sleeves
And with my pen in hand
I'll call the Muse to my aid and write
Doggerel verses with all my might
Of Bermuda's Coral Strand.

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Scarecrow Verse

From the extensive archive of Peter Haining, this doggerel by an unknown writer and a snapshot of scarecrow with brolly... These are from a file of research material for his 1988 book The Scarecrow: Fact and Fable. The book has this sympathetic review at Amazon: 'Haining really did a great job with this under researched topic. He examines the Scarecrow from its beginnings to the modern day counterparts. What I liked the most was the strong attention given to the figure of the Scarecrow in Literature and Films. If Scarecrows interest you, then you will love this book.' It was an insubstantial file bulked out with a few copyright movie and television stills (Worzel Gummidge etc.,)

A farmer sat in his chair
When the day's work was done
Birds are taking my peas - said he
I'll scare them with my gun

His wife said "John your time you'll save
If you a scarecrow make
Your old brown coat with odds and ends
Will cause those birds to quake

Upstairs there is an old top hat
Gloves in the parlour drawer
Bean poles will make its arms and legs
For stuffing we'll use straw

A turnip from the old barn floor
Will make a splendid head
If stones are used for eyes and nose
We'll paint its mouth" she said

They set to work to make it up
It was a fearsome sight
It gave the birds for miles around
A very dreadful fright.

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The Laying of the Atlantic Cable (1866) in verse

This scrap of doggerel, found among a collection of holograph letters, has no name attached. It is bad enough to be by William McGonagall, the second worst poet who ever lived (the first being Amanda Ros), but is dated at around 1866, which must surely be too early for him.

Hark ? that noise, what meaning that Gun
The Great Eastern has arrived, the Goal is won
All the world must now precedence yield
To the Proprietors Glass, Canning and Field
For the (longest) Rope is made & successfully ran
That ever was made by the Hands of Man
To Capt. Anderson & all his officers too
For their strict perseverance all Credit is due
Likewise, all on board did as far as they were able
Every assistance render to lay our Glorious Atlantic Cable.

The first transatlantic telegraph cable manufactured by Glass and associates was laid in 1858 from Western Ireland to Heart’s Content, Newfoundland, with Cyrus Field as entrepreneur.  Unfortunately, the poor quality of the cable meant that it functioned well for only a few weeks and was irretrievably damaged in September of the same year when too much current was passed through it. Undaunted, Field and associates raised more money and in 1865 Brunel’s huge ‘Great Eastern’ steamship, was commissioned to lay a new improved cable along the same route. Under Captain James Anderson and with Canning as chief engineer, the ship sailed westwards from Ireland, but after 1,062 miles the end of the cable was accidentally dropped into the sea, where it sank to the depth of over two miles. The mission was abandoned and the Great Eastern sailed back to obtain a new cable. This was duly laid in July 1866, to universal acclamation .The poem seems to celebrate this astonishing feat of seamanship and engineering, but it may have been composed a few months after this initial success, when thanks to the 'strict perseverance' of Anderson and his officers the lost first cable was somehow retrieved from the depths of the Atlantic, spliced to a new cable, and the whole laid along the same route to Newfoundland. Thus, by September 1866 two working transatlantic cables were in operation.

The new communications link to America was an astounding boon to commerce, diplomacy and the military—reducing the time taken to send and receive messages from ten days to a few minutes.  [R R]