Christian inspiration’s undying contribution unto poesy

This, I aver, for aye cracketh me up most loftily.


GENERAL GORDON, THE HERO OF KHARTOUM

by William McGonagall

ALAS! now o'er the civilised world there hangs a gloom
For brave General Gordon, that was killed in Khartoum,
He was a Christian hero, and a soldier of the Cross,
And to England his death will be a very great loss.

He was very cool in temper, generous and brave,
The friend of the poor, the sick, and the slave;
And many a poor boy he did educate,
And laboured hard to do so early and late.

He was a man that did not care for worldly gear,
Because the living and true God he did fear;
And the hearts of the poor he liked to cheer,
And by his companions in arms he was loved most dear.

He always took the Bible for his guide,
And he liked little boys to walk by his side;
He preferred their company more so than men,
Because he knew there was less guile in them.

And in his conversation he was modest and plain,
Denouncing all pleasures he considered sinful and vain,
And in battle he carried no weapon but a small cane,
Whilst the bullets fell around him like a shower of rain.

He burnt the debtors' books that were imprisoned in Khartoum,
And freed them from a dismal prison gloom,
Those that were imprisoned for debt they couldn't pay,
And sent them rejoicing on their way.

While engaged in the Russian war, in the midst of the fight,
He stood upon a rising ground and viewed them left and right,
But for their shot and shell he didn't care a jot,
While the officers cried, Gordon, come down, or else you'll be shot.

His cane was christened by the soldiers Gordon's wand of victory
And when he waved it the soldiers' hearts were filled with glee
While with voice and gesture he encouraged them in the strife,
And he himself appeared to possess a charmed life.

Once when leading a storming party the soldiers drew back,
But he quickly observed that courage they did lack,
Then he calmly lighted a cigar, and turned cheerfully found,
And the soldiers rushed boldly on with a bound.

And they carried the position without delay,
And the Chinese rebels soon gave way,
Because God was with him during the day,
And with those that trust Him for ever and aye.

He was always willing to conduct meetings for the poor,
Also meat and clothing for them he tried to procure,
And he always had little humorous speeches at command,
And to hear him deliver them it must have been grand.

In military life his equal couldn't he found,
No! if you were to search the wide world around,
And 'tis pitiful to think he has met with such a doom
By a base traitor knave while in Khartoum.

Yes, the black-hearted traitor opened the gates of Khartoum,
And through that the Christian hero has met his doom,
For when the gates were opened the Arabs rushed madly in,
And foully murdered him while they laughingly did grin.

But he defended himself nobly with axe and sword in hand,
But, alas! he was soon overpowered by that savage band,
And his body received a hundred spear wounds and more,
While his murderers exultingly did loudly shriek and roar.

But heaven's will,'tis said, must be done,
And according to his own opinion his time was come;
But I hope he is now in heaven reaping his reward.
Although his fate on earth was really very hard.

I hope the people will his memory revere,
And take an example from him, and worship God in fear,
And never be too fond of worldly gear,
And walk in General Gordon's footsteps, while they are here.

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Tags: art, christianity, poetry

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Comment by Tom Pandelaere on September 26, 2010 at 3:35pm
I perceive you are an idealist, dear sir. My sincerest commiserations.
It is precisely the dross poured out by the majority of devout scribblers which serves to put them down. Hence my indolent copying, for want of time and inspiration which, I am certain, will eftsoons come to pass.
Comment by David Sensei on July 31, 2010 at 10:10am
They don't write 'em like that any more, do they? Thank god for that, ha ha (I mean that in the non-religious sense). Mr McGonagall, whoever he is, seems to think it's a poem as long as the last line rhymes, I don't think he got the hang of meter and rhythm. Pretty typical amateur verse of the day actually, and nowadays as well.

Interesting post, Tom, though I'm not sure why it's here. Coz it 'cracketh you up'?

The 'poem' is as jingoistic and xenophobic as the man himself, though to be fair, he must have been a great leader of men with the courage of his convictions, simply a product of his time.

Old Gordon had it all worked out. No wonder he wasn't afraid of death. I read somewhere that on his arrival in Jerusalem, one of the first things he did was scout around for a hill that looked like a skull, and had a shrine erected there for the benefit of the heathen multitudes. Fixed that problem! I think he died never knowing that the probable site of that particular crucifixion, assuming it took place at all, was by then deep underground. In fact, he died never knowing quite a lot of things. He sure socked it to those Chinese 'rebels' too. The cheek of those heathens wanting to take over their own country!

I'd like to suggest an alternative last stanza:

I hope the people will his memory revere
And take an example from him, and from his ideas steer clear.
Always be too fond of what is now and here,
Erase his racist footsteps, choose brotherhood not fear.

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