Marriott Edgar ( )


The Channel Swimmer


Would you hear a Wild tale of adventure 
Of a hero who tackled the sea,
A super-man swimming the ocean,
Then hark to the tale of Joe Lee.

Our Channel, our own Straits of Dover
Had heen swum by an alien lot:
Our British-born swimmers had tried it, 
But that was as far as theyd got.

So great was the outcry in England, 
Darts Players neglected their beer,
And the ChancIor proclaimed from the Woolsack
As Joe Lee were the chap for this ere.

For in swimming baths all round the country
Joe were noted for daring and strength; 
Quite often hed dived in the deep end,
And thought nothing of swimming a length.

So they wrote him, C/o Workhouse Master, 
Joe were spending the summer with him,
And promised him two Christmas puddings
If over the Channel hed swim. 

Joe jumped into t breach like an ero,
He said, All their fears Ill relieve, 
And it isnt their puddings Im after,
As I told them last Christmas Eve.

Though many have tackled the Channel
From Grisnez to Dover that is,
For the honour and glory of England 
Ill swim from Dover to Gris-niz.

As soon as his words were made public
The newspapers gathered around
And offered to give him a pension 
If he lost both his legs and got drowned.

He borrowed a tug from the Navy 
To swim in the shelter alee,
The Wireless folk lent him a wavelength, 
And the Water Board lent him the sea.

His wife strapped a mascot around him, 
The tears to his eyes gently stole;
Twere some guiness corks she had collected 
And stitched to an old camisole.

He entered the water at daybreak, 
A man with a camera stood near,
He said Hurry up and get in, lad, 
Youre spoiling my view of the pier.

At last he were in, he were swimming 
With a beautiful overarm stroke,
When the men on the tug saw with horror
That the rope he were tied to had broke.

Then down came a fog, thick as treacle, 
The tug looked so distant and dim
A voice shouted Help, I am drowning,
Joe listened and found it were him. 

The tug circled round till they found him, 
They hauled him aboard like a sack,
Tied a new tow-rope around him, 
Smacked him and then threw him back.

Twere at sunset, or just a bit later, 
That he realized all wasnt right,
For the tow-rope were trailing behind him 
And the noose round his waist getting tight.

One hasty glance over his shoulder,
He saw in a flash what were wrong. 
The Captain had shut off his engine,
Joe were towing the Tugboat along.

On and on through the darkness he paddled
Till he knew he were very near in 
By the way he kept bumping the bottom
And hitting the stones with his chin.

Was it Grisniz hed reached?... No, it wasnt, 
The treacherous tide in its track 
Had carried him half-way to Blackpool 
And he had to walk all the way back.



Marriott Edgar's other poems:
  1. The Ole in the Ark
  2. Albert and the Eadsman
  3. Marksman Sam
  4. Up'ards
  5. George and the Dragon


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