Booze [poem by “Dryblower” Murphy, 1926]

[Editor: This poem by “Dryblower” Murphy was published in Dryblower’s Verses (1926).]

Booze.

(The barque Gwydyr Castle brought spirits and beer equalling 3000 barrels and thirty casks of ginger ale.)

Think of it, pals who parch
Under a thirsty sky,
Think of it, mates who march
Out where the skeletons lie;
Out where the old bones bleach
Like ship-ribs smooth and grey,
That litter the span of beach
Where the wreck-reef claims its prey
Think of it, ye who lose
Your thirst in a teamster’s pail —
Three thousand barrels of booze
And thirty of ginger ale!

Picture that barque-rigged pub
Loaded to plimsoll mark,
Leaving the world’s great hub,
Ramming the waters dark.
Picture the gladsome sprees
Locked in her groaning hold,
Picture the great green seas
That over the grog-ship rolled.
Think of that thirsty cruise,
And a bulk-head, thin and frail —
Three thousand barrels of booze,
And thirty of ginger ale!

Think of the headaches vast,
Down where the bilge-rats squeak,
Where the bole of the straining mast
Springs out of the gloom and reek.
Think of the dead-men’s eyes
Staring from depths below,
As the liquor that millions prize
Lurched over the heave and throw.
Staring from wreck-strewn ooze
At the beer-barge under sail —
Three thousand barrels of booze,
And thirty of ginger ale!

Three thousand barrels of beer —
Beer and whisky and wine,
Hiccup and toast and cheer —
Women whose arms entwine.
Malt from the London vats,
Burgundy red from France,
To christen a few wild-cats
Or liven a country dance.
For the felon who fears the noose,
Or the young bride shy and pale —
Three thousand barrels of booze,
And thirty of ginger ale!



Source:
Edwin Greenslade Murphy, Dryblower’s Verses, Perth, W.A.: E. G. Murphy, 1926, pages 40-41

Previously published (with some differences) in:
The Sunday Times (Perth, WA), 23 October 1904, p. 4
Dryblower, Jarrahland Jingles: A Volume of Westralian Verse, Perth (W.A.): R.S. Sampson for Sunday Times, 1908, pages 104-106

Editor’s notes:
bole = the trunk of a tree (may also refer to clays of various colors which are used to create pigments, or a red-brown color made from those clays)

plimsoll = Plimsoll line, a waterline marked on the side of ships, which must be visible above the water (so as to prevent ships being overloaded, subsequently settling too low in the water, and thus being liable to capsize in turbulent seas); named after Samuel Plimsoll (1824-1898), a British Member of Parliament who campaigned to make such waterlines compulsory by law, so as to prevent the heavy loss of life caused by ships being overloaded

reek = fog, fumes, smoke, steam, or vapor (may also refer to a strong unpleasant smell)

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