Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE BALLAD OF THE LONG DAM, by PATRICK MACGILL

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE BALLAD OF THE LONG DAM, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: Twas on the day the dam gave way, I mind it / awfully well
Last Line: And riley's daughter's married to me — honest, so help me god.
Subject(s): Floods; Water; Water Supply; Dams; Reservoirs; Water Mains

'T WAS on the day the Dam gave way, I mind it awfully well,
Moleskin Joe and Carroty Dan had a row about Riley's gel —
Good for a chew! Well, seeing it's you, I think I'll yarn it out;
Just turn your eye on that wall hard by, and see is the boss about.

Wal, first let me tell how Riley's gel was pretty as women go,
And whiles she went out with Carroty Dan, and whiles she went out with Joe,
The way of a man with a maid, 't is said, is strange, and it's scripture true,
But stranger by far you'll find they are, the wonderful ways of two.

Day in and out it was fight about, night after night the same,
And they batter it here, a trifle queer, as there ain't no rules in the game,
A throw or a grip, a kick or a trip, no wool-padded, kid-gloved play
You can go for your man in any style your own peculiar way.

'T was on the day the Long Dam burst, Moleskin he bummed his sub,
And went and got boozed as he often did down at the nearest pub,
Primed to the neck he weltered back, and sought out Carroty D.,
And the rest of us quickly formed a ring for the fight that we knew would be.

'T was a fight and a half that blessed day, and as hard as ever I saw,
Moleskin Joe had the track of a blow of a shoe on his bearded jaw,
Carroty Dan had some teeth bunged out, and his eyes bunged up as well,
When some one shouted, "The Long Dam's burst, slide like the very hell!"

We heard the piles in the breastwork creek, break like a twig and fall,
We saw the riotous water crash over the broken wall,
The roots and the furze and the rocks uphurled, go like a wash of snow,
Then sudden I minded of Riley's gel alone in the hut below —

Alone in the path of the loosened flood. ... I ran like the very wind,
With hurl and groan, by hollow and stone, I heard it breaking behind,
I heard it urge its curling surge to the moan of the failing stay,
And charge the banks in endless ranks forcing its head-strong way.

And still the waters vomited forth, on cabin and copse and bent,
And still on my errand lightning-winged over the ridge I went —
How I got saved, and how we were saved, is more than I'm fit to tell,
But I mind of beating it by a neck along with old Riley's gel.

That is the tale. 'T is a dirty job, and ours is a rotten trade,
It takes a while to gather a pile with the help of a shovel and spade —
There's Moleskin there a-shovelling dirt, and Carroty with a hod,
And Riley's daughter's married to me — honest, so help me God.

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