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Thomas Mc Rae
[To Thomas Mc Rae’s index] [Back to the index of the New McGonagall’s poems.]

Poems by the New McGonagall

By Tomas Mc Rae, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, ©1988

When I acted out the role of the World’s Best Bad Poet on the Walkways at Brisbane’s WORLD EXPO 88 I added a few poems of my own in similar genre.

Here is one I still remember.

An Epic Tale of Scots Fortitude

On a railway station platform not too far from Aberdeen

There stands an antiquated “Try Your Strength” machine.

It is painted brilliant red with a handle made of brass

And a brazen dial and pointer covered by a disc of glass.

Put in a penny and pull the handle if you feel like a lark.

You get two back if the pointer passes by a certain mark.

Though pennies are long obsolete this machine stays in the station

as a memorial to Scots fortitude and determination.

To that self same spirit which made the English run

From off the field in 1314 at the Battle of Bannockburn.

’twas in the year 1896 on a freezing winter’s day

That Donald Macdonald, aged ninety, tried at “Try Your Strength” to play.

He was waiting on the platform to catch a morning train

When he put his penny in the slot some profit for to gain.

He was heard to say that “Ah’ll no play this stupit game fur fun.

But fur the hunnert purrcent proafit that frae it cun be wun!”

At the thought of doubling his money he shook like in a fever,

Then took good hold and pulled down hard upon that brazen lever.

Aye, at that mighty handle he long did pull and hove,

But only got a scant response from the pointer up above.

He huffed and puffed and fumed and cursed but never beat retreat,

Bemoaning that the lever was useless as a seat.

He wrought and wrenched with all his might in grievous discontent

For hour after hour as the trains all came and went.

The sun had set, ’twas e’en’s descent, the sky was turning black,

But brave Donald said, “Ah’ll pu’ this thing ’till ah git ma munnie back.”

The lamps were dowsed, the station closed. Of trains there weren’t any.

But Donald fought on manfully to regain his errant penny.

With the spirit of his ancestors who won great battles past

He hung on bravely and endured the storm fiend’s icy blast.

The following morning, early, it was far from being nice,

With freezing winds and driving snow, and lots of slippery ice.

As he opened up the platform the station master bold

Shook and shivered piteously in the ghastly cold.

He took a nip of whisky and the weather he did curse.

Then he looked along the platform and his shivers got much worse!

For there was the most ghastly sight his eyes had ever seen:

Donald Macdonald hanging from that “Try Your Strength” machine,

Both hands upon the lever, feet braced on the front’s bright red,

Frozen solid, hard as rock, and obviously stark dead.

The icy winds had turned him as white as any sheet.

Yet, like his ancient ancestors he’d never beat retreat.

That pointer was past the winning mark. He’d two pennies at his feet.

[To Thomas Mc Rae’s index] [Back to the index of the New McGonagall’s poems.]

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