A Royal Relic

Published in Windlesora 01 (1982)


What have we here, a piece of coal
I think I hear you say.
I answer, Yes, and if you’ve time
I will tell you if I may.

How in the flood of 94
When we were sore in need,
Our gracious Queen Victoria
Proved to us a friend indeed.

You see, my friends, it was like this,
We had had a lot of rain
And Father Thames rose o’er his banks;
To stay him proved in vain.

He flowed on o’er the meadows,
He flowed on down the street,
And soon he filled the cottages.
No use to stand and weep.

For Father Thames no pity has
When he thinks a walk he’ll take.
He soon will spoil your furniture,
And wet your houses make.

And then it was, our Noble Queen
Sent us in our need,
Some sacks of coal, of which I keep
This relic; royal indeed.

And when I see Her Majesty
Drive by my humble cot,
I whisper forth my grateful thanks,
Although she hears me not.

And so you see, my piece of coal
Will tell you what I mean.
That never has Old England
Had a kind or better Quen.

Mrs. Janet Riddick (of Old Windsor, January 20, 1895 after The Great Flood of 1894)