Irish call it eloquence
The gift of the gab
In 1992 I had just arrived in the USA from China where I had been working for almost 4 years. I had started to work for a hotel group with about 4 properties in the Twin Cities area. Not long after starting, the city of St. Paul, Minnesota was the venue of an exhibit of the Titanic. My hotel was one of the sponsoring hotels. As part of the promotion we invited corporate accounts to a special reception and a chance to visit the Titanic exhibit. The reception menu was replicated from the first class menu served to the passengers aboard the maiden voyage. I saved a copy of the promotional material which was printed for the occasion. The material featured the two vessels of the White Star Line; the SS Olympic and the RMS Titanic. On the reverse side was the celebrated menu. I used the various dishes served to cook up the following poem.
The title of the poem recalls the original film made in Black and white with the title “A Night to Remember” starring Kenneth More and Honor Blackman which was released about July 1958. The RMS Titanic sank 105 years ago on April 14th, 1912.
A BITE TO REMEMBER
The night we remember,
When the Titanic sank deep down
First Class passengers were dining,
Like a night out on the town
Their dinner on that fateful night
First oysters a la Russe
Canapés à l’amiral
And then a sherbet mousse
Second course of soups
One came from the Volga
Cream of barley in a bowl
And too, consommé Olga
Third course served was from the sea
Not brought in a terrine
Poached salmon on a gilded plate
With sauce of mousseline
Fourth course were the entrées
With filet mignons Lili
Or chicken Lyonnaise
And vegetable marrow farci
Fifth course they call removes
With lamb and sauce of mint
And duck with Calvados,
Just a little hint
These were paired with veggies
Healthy garden fare
Spuds, carrots, minted pea timbales
All of them were there.
To clean the palette sixth, was served
Punch Romaine or sorbet
The choices two but simple
You only had to say
Seventh course was roasted squab
On a bed of wilted cress
Exquisite dining for the price
You could not ask for less
Eighth course was a salad
With champagne Vinaigrette
This was such a tasty dish
Whoever could forget?
The ninth course was a cold dish
Of Pâté de Foie Gras
Goose livers all the way from France
Where food is Ooh la la!
Comes now course number ten
Peaches in chartreuse jelly
Waldorf pudding, chocolate eclairs
Watch out for your belly
Of fruit and cheese.
By now more food
Is one tight squeeze
And finally a bourbon tasting
Best to sip it slow
And on that note I’ll say farewell
This was a fine last supper of some who rest below.
When I was footloose and fancy free
I had an urge to go to sea.
But in truth a ship I could not find
I had read about the Golden Hind.
The only ship that lay at anchor
The owner a local merchant banker.
She was the good ship Walrus
Just as well you did not see us
A motley crew that was quite true
But our hearts were keen and our fears were few.
Some press-ganged from too much ale
Consigned for now to help her sail,
And follow on the breeze
Bound to the west and open seas.
First our heading north through the Irish Sea and past the Mull of Kintyre.
Through lightning and heavy rain I saw St. Elmo’s fire.
A good omen I was told, to see a ship aglow
Old sailors taking in the storm as just another show.
Captain Yarman spoke to us next day
To explain how we would earn our pay.
You work in watches by the bell.
What that meant was hard to tell.
Then spoke the Bo ‘sun a sullen fellow
But beneath his gruff he seemed quite mellow.
Stay sober, be on time and that was it.
Oh! Be clean and always stow your kit.
Leave nothing loose below these decks
The surest way to break your necks
When the seas run high you mark my word
Never tell me you never heard.
That night was ever northward
Towards the midnight sun
And then as the dawn was breaking
We steered for our westward run.
Bound for the Cayman Islands and Montego Bay
Rum at Aunt Jema’ah’s place,
And while the ship was lading a little time to stray.
Those were good days, sailing on the tide.
But some years later my heart was claimed
For now I had a bride.
Her blood ran hot with cayenne spice
And I a land lubber in a trice.
Set now to growing vegetables
And digging in my plot
No longer footloose nor fancy free
Only to dream of days at sea.
The nights when in my hammock swung
Rolling with the waves
And in between the swells I thought
What have I learned in life, what lessons has it taught?
A list counted in my mind.
The most important I could find:
Never forget your passion.
Live life clean and tidy.
Ship shape and Bristol fashion.
This is another piece from the box of stuff I found waiting to be unpacked in my garage.
The Man with the Rowan Rod
He came to visit me today,
He brought his Rowan rod.
Hereabouts it’s called a fé.
When asked if that was Irish? All he did was nod.
He took my measure top to toe.
He had a grim and solemn take
He did this twice before he could go
To find the wood with which to make
My suit of fir which I would wear
With other souls who’d gone before
To the space beneath the turf I’d share.
So now I sit and wait for God,
I‘ve seen the man with the Rowan rod.
I even looked him in the eye.
He wished to speak, I could see.
At which he let out one long sigh.
He asked a question what shall I do
When my time comes, who do you
think with measure me?
Don’t worry about length or breadth I said
Upon this earth we made our bed
The time will come for us to answer
For all the stuff that we have done to others and alone
Sins for which we must atone.
I’ve confessed my sins to God
So I’ll be fine beneath the sod.
Go now and confess at least
What you remember to a priest
And he’ll have some words to say
He’ll even tell you what to pray,
As penance for forgiveness of your faults.
And when you reach the Pearly gates,
Just reach up and ring the bell.
Peter will check you in his book and the gates will open wide
Peter then will ask of you, why don’t you come inside?
On earth you measured souls and you did measure well
So much so my friend you saved them all from hell.
Your solemn look and words you spoke
Had great effect on all the folk
You met before my angel called on them to say
Before your maker you will go today.
It caused them in their last moments to give some thought
To the life that they had led.
But what really saved them
were the words that you said.
Repent the end is nigh!
Today you’ll meet your lord and God
In his kingdom up on high.
Prince Charles attended the grand opening of the new Garda Siochana barracks in Tinahely, County Wicklow in Ireland wearing a dark blue pin-stripe three piece suit and a fox fur hat.
After some speeches and various pieces of music played by a Garda brass band and a ribbon cutting, Prince Charles found himself sitting at lunch with Gwinnon Vaughan,the mayor of Tinahely and a few other local dignitaries. after the entrée and just before the dessert was about to be served the mayor coughed discretely and said ” your Highness thank you again for coming to our small off the beaten track town, but please forgive me, I must ask about the fox fur hat you are wearing”.
Prince Charles responded somewhat matter-of-factly.
“Oh yes”. “Well I was getting ready for my trip yesterday and my father, Prince Philip wanted to know if I could go sailing today I told him no as I had a grand opening at a Garda Siochana barracks in Tinahely.” “He simply said Oh!- wear the fox hat”