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Titanic: Ode to the Titan

Poem contributed by Davy Wilson, ex Harland and Wolff plater.

Painting of Titanic  by Ross Campbell,  Andrews Memorial Primary School

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This poem is by David Wilson (ex plater Harland & Wolff, now living in Australia) and is dedicated to all ex and present workers of Harland & Wolff and their families.

Davy writes:- There's a story behind this poem. In 1958 there was only four ways a boy could get a job in H&W - message boy, catch boy, paint boy and marker boy. I started as a marker boy. I was told to work under a mister Tom Black. I was 16, Tom was 86. He told me he had worked on all the "olympics" . He also gave me advice I've never forgotten. He then recited the original verse, "somebody said that it couldn't be done" and he said this should be my mark for the rest of my life. I've never forgotten that advice and I've passed it on to my children. The rest of the poem is 100% mine.

I was presented with a position in the planning office, which was formed to try to help production. During my time there I met some very nice people. One day during lunch I recited a poem by Robert Service,"The cremation of Sam McGee". One of my work mates, Hugh Gordon, said" It must be great to write poetry like that". To which I returned, "It's easy Hughie, if you get into the swing of things". Then I recited "In a belfast yard......." I wrote it on a piece of paper and handed it to Hughie. I then said "If and when I'm famous Hughie, you have the original." lol.

That was in the mid 70s. It wasn't until I began subscribing, in a technical sense to Encyclopaedia Titanica that I was inspired. One day at work, it all came to me in a matter of hours. I became all emotional as I wrote it down in my note book, the tears ran for the men that built her. How must they have felt? Ridiculed by the world's press.


Most of them said that it couldn't be done, but Andrews with a chuckle, replied.
Maybe it couldn't but he wouldn't be one to say so till he tried.
So he started right in, with the trace of a grin on his face, if he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing that couldn't be done and he did it!

In a Belfast yard where men work hard and their minds are bent on ships.
In a yard called Queens and to most that means Titanic on her slips.
Just sitting there all cold and bare, waiting on her time to slide.
She didn't know that she couldn't go, she had to wait for the tide.

The tide did come as it always will, dependable and true.
They pulled the switch and let her go into the sea so blue.
As she began to slide into the risen tide, the throng began to cheer.
They followed her down from Belfast town and everyone held her so dear.
Andrews was there and Wilding too. They stood with their heads held high.
As they watched her go they didn't know, that soon she was going to die.
They fitted her out and gave her a lick of paint, she looked like she could stick the pace.
They didn't know that in the final show she wouldn't even make cape race.

T'was an April day she was making her way across the broad Atlantic.
How were they to know this was the final show and it would be anything but romantic.
She took a blow far down below and never was a blow so dear.
It settled her hash with a mighty gash which ran from 'ere to 'ere.
They checked her out and without a doubt never was a gash so foul.
The sea did pour through the open door all frothy, green and coul.
Andrews was there, Frost too, not holding their heads so high.
They did their sums whilst muttering a prayer with their faces to the sky.
They thought of this and they thought of that and they thought of thon beside.
But they couldn't stem the mighty gush coming through her wounded side.

Andrews said "we're done for, I really think we are".
Then EJ asked "how long have we got?" "not much more than an hour!".
"We've got to keep her up boys! we've got to do our best!
I can't let my Titanic go to Davy Jones's chest!"
But to Davy Jones's chest she went, through the wet, the cold and the gloom.
And there she stays as far as I know, just a rusting watery tomb.

Somebody said that she couldn't be sunk! But the iceberg it knew better.
It hit her hard and it hit her low. A ship killer to the letter.

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