Patrick Regan has kindly shared the material from his Robert Buchanan site with readers of the Victorian Web, who may wish to consult the original.

[On Saturday, October 28, 1899, the fishing-boat 'Truelight,' of Gordon, Kincardineshire, manned by a fisherman named Taylor and his four sons, foundered and sank. The old man saw three of his sons swept away, but managed to get hold of an oar; and by and by his second son, Alexander, appeared swimming by his side. Seeing that the oar would be unlikely to support more than one, the lad calmly said to his father, 'Weel, father, it's time I was awa',' and sank beneath the waves.]

Perchance 'tis well that lips should tell
    The fallen Warrior's praise:
Life against life he staked, and fell, —
    He loses, and he pays;
We hail him brave, and to his grave
    We bring the meed of Fame,
But 'neath the sun some deeds are done
    That put his pride to shame!

Turn from the scene where dark and dread
    The Storms of Battle grow,
Follow the Christ whose feet still tread
    The Sea, as long ago; —
He leaves afar the strife of War
    And o'er the waves walks He, —
Yea, through the night He bears a Light
    For loving eyes to see!

There's Storm, too, here! — with shrieks of strife
    The angry Ocean runs:
In their frail boat strive hard for life
    A father and four sons;
An old Scots Fisher of the Deep,
    Four lads, his flesh and blood, —
Around them fierce and angry leap
    The waves of that fierce flood!

A blast, — a crash, — the little boat
    Hath sunk, — but look once more!
The old man on the flood doth float,
    Clinging to one frail oar;
Three of his sons have sunk and died,
    Their death-cry fills his ears, —
When, struggling by his father's side,
    The fourth, and last, appears!

God help them! to their piteous cries
    Deaf is the angry Deep,
Still darker grow the stormy skies,
    Higher the white waves leap! —
The wild winds roar, — too frail the oar
    That weight of two to bear, —
Then crieth one, the Fisher's son,
    'Mid the black storm out there, —

'The oar's too weak to carry twa, —
    And one must surely dee, —
Faither, 'tis time I was awa',
    For God can best spare me!'
His hands just touch but do not clutch
    The floating oar, — and then
'Farewell!' he saith, and down to Death
    Sinks, ne'er to rise again!

On the wild waves the gray old wight
    Now floateth safely on, —
He is saved from Death this woeful night
    Though his brave son hath gone! . . .
O surely He who on the sea
    Walks yet, looks down in joy
Flashing His light this woeful night
    To bless that Fisher Boy!

Doubtless 'tis well that lips should tell
    The fallen Warrior's praise.
Life against life he staked, and fell, —
    He loses, and he pays!
We hail him brave, and to his grave
    We bring the meed of Fame, —
But 'neath the sun some deeds are done
    That put his pride to shame!

(From Miscellaneous Poems)


Victorian Web Robert Buchanan Contents

Last modified 27 September 2002