The Great Boat Race
by Byron de Wolfe
Saint John Globe, August 25, 1922
Five and twenty thousand people
Gazed upon the River bright,
Steamboats, woodboats, race boats, sail boats,
All form part of one grand sight.
Mortals rushing onward, upward,
Eager all the race to view.
Pink, the color for New Brunswick,
For the English boat, the "Blue."
Are you ready? shouted loudly
Thomas Jones, the referee,
Sir, we are, eight oarsmen answered
Eager all were for the contest,
O, how eager none could know,
But the Tyne boat first took water
When the Referee said, Go!
See, Tyne leads our struggling oarsmen.
Look! they're leading them no more
Ross and Fulton, Price and Hutton,
Never better did before.
Eager, earnest and ambitious,
Pass the English, before they fly,
And soon fifty feet they lead them,
Pleasing each New Brunswick eye.
Then it was that noble Renforth,
Over all the world renowned,
Gathered all his strength to pass them,
While he heard the cheers resound
From the shore and from the people,
And he knew well what was said:
In the stern boat is James Renforth
And the Paris crew's ahead.
But the Paris men continued,
Hearing louder cheers from shore;
On they went without their rivals
Till at last their work was o'er.
But they little knew, brave fellows,
How the noble Renforth fell,
A sad victim of ambition
At the work he loved so well.
Who will tell the tale in England
To his little child and wife,
How across the broad Atlantic
Their protector lost his life?
Lost his life while bravely striving
For his country and his crew.
Who will tell the tale in England,
Tell me, tell me, tell me, who?
O, whoever tells the story
Let them to his widow say,
Dying he spoke of a dear one
In a land so far away,
And one word he spoke quite loudly
As he parted with his life
Was not one about the boat race,
Was the simple word of "Wife."
Fame he won, and boldly won it,
But he will seek it never more;
All his challenges and races.
All his victories are o'er.
All his wild and vain ambitions
Have forever from him fled,
Rivals never more need fear him,
For he's numbered among the dead.
There are few men who sigh not,
There are few eyes that are dry,
And the flags for Tyne and Paris
All are waving at half-mast high.
In the streets and in the cities,
Alleys, houses, dwellings, stores,
Men are telling of the oarsman
Who never more will need his oars.