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The West Bay

Extract from poem inspired by the wreck of the Royal Adelaide written the following day, 26 November, 1872, by J. Randerson.  It was published in the Southern Times alongside reports of the disaster.  The ‘West Bay’ refers to the sea just west of Chesil Beach.

Whoe’er has seen our great West Bay
When lashing storms have angry sway,
Now writhing, roaring, upward gushing,
Then downward into chaos rushing,
Will hope and pray no ships may be
Driv’n on by winds into that sea;
For how can they escape a fate
Which language never can relate,
Nor yet imagination form –
A shipwreck in a ruthless storm –
Sad fate, sad loss, alas! alas!
How oftentimes it comes to pass.
What numerous ships, on Chesil Beach,
When help seem’d just within their reach,
Have had no strength whereby t’oppose
The mountain billows’ hamm’ring blows,
But crush’d and shaken, split and torn,
And helpess like some thing forlorn,
Till rushing o’er, and through, and under,
The desperate waves rent all asunder,
As if ten thousand furies had
Seiz’d on each ship, with wildness mad;
And ruin cried, till ruin sped,
And ships, like visions, vanishéd.