Now Willie was an Orangeman as loyal as can be
Virtuous and upright, a decent man was he
A man who’d always do his best to help a friend in need
Who loved his neighbours equally, no matter what their creed.
Earlier that evening he had taken to his bed
To rest and sleep to help him face the day that lay ahead
It was going to be strenuous, I really can’t deny
For tomorrow as it happened was the Twelfth Day of July.
He fell into a slumber and soon began to snore
But suddenly was wakened by a tapping at the door
And when the door swung open his jaw dropped in surprise
At the unexpected vision that appeared before his eyes.
A figure stood before him in robes of purest white
An angel who was glowing with a shining holy light
He smiled and spoke to Willie from the bottom of the bed
“Now brace yourself. I’ve got some news, you mightn’t like”, he said.
You’ll need to listen carefully to what I’ve got to say
Tomorrow I appreciate is quite a special day
Of everything it means to you, I’m very much aware
The big parade will go ahead … but you will not be there!”
Well Willie bolted upright – said he “You’re talking rot!
To stay away on my big day ? I certainly will not!
I’ve never missed the twelfth before, and one thing’s very clear
There’s nothing that will hold me back from being there this year!”
Well the angel looked at Willie, then smiled and cleared his throat
“Now, Willie there is something that I feel you ought to note
And I’m afraid the big parade you’ll miss this year,” he said
“The reason’s clear – for you, I fear, are well and truly … dead.
I’m sad to say you passed away just half an hour ago
And though you’ll find it hard to grasp and quite a telling blow
I feel real bad to be the one to break this news to you
But Willie you must understand that what I say is true”.
“I must admit, said Willie, this is something of a shock
I find it very hard to take .. a really nasty shock!
And though I’m not the sort of man that one can easily vex
I’m certainly annoyed to find that now I’m just an ex.
Just tell me one thing if you will, now that I’m deceased
And from this vale of woe and tears so recently released
What exactly happens next? And where am I to go?
Will I go to heaven … or end up down below?”
“It isn’t all that simple,” the visitor replied
You’ll need to undergo a test to help us to decide
You’ll need to meet St Peter and you’ll have to plead your case
To come and join us in a state of everlasting grace
Joy that’s everlasting and happiness eternal
Or never-ending torment in misery infernal
It’s up to you .. for what it’s worth, I think that you will find
That Peter will judge your virtue with a fair and open mind
But now we haven’t time to waste – your judgement lies in wait
And Peter’s standing patiently beside the Pearly Gate
He has several other applicants to arbitrate, you know
So Willie, if you’re ready – let’s get cracking! Here we go!
And suddenly the pair of them was flying through the sky
And soon arrived outside the gate of Paradise on high
And there they found St Peter, his halo on his head
‘Well Willie I am waiting, to hear your case’, he said.
Willie pulled his shoulders back, ‘Your Honour’, he replied
It’s difficult to realize that I have lately died
I feel I really must protest, I should have had more warning
Can’t you wait, I beg you please, until at least the Thirteenth morning?
For frankly I consider it an absolute disgrace
That I’ve been called before you now and forced to state my case
To help you make a judgement on where my soul should dwell
And Heaven, Sir, without the Twelfth, is my idea of Hell.
I’m begging your indulgence, but I’d quite appreciate
An interim postponement of the setting of my fate
I’d like you to consider, Sir, this serious proposal
Just let me have my final Twelfth – then I’m at your disposal!’
‘I’m sorry said the patriarch – that isn’t heaven’s way
There’s simply no deferring a person’s Judgement Day
The rules are quite explicit and unbreakable, he said
The fact I fear is very clear, that when you’re dead – you’re dead!
I find it hard to understand or see the reason why
Human beings like yourself are indisposed to die
When heaven holds such sheer delights behind its golden portals
And pleasure unimagined by all you lesser mortals.
If I deferred your day of doom you’d think it very nice
But do it once and you would try to have me do it twice
And if I did – you must admit – I wouldn’t be too clever
Before I knew it I would be postponing it forever!’
‘With great respect, said Willie, it’s very clear to see
You haven’t grasped the full extent of what it means to me
I’ve always reckoned you a saint of wisdom and perception
And surely you have reason Sir, to make me an exception?’
‘I can see you are determined, said Peter with a frown,
I don’t know what to do with you, – to send you up or down
I know of course this very day is special to a Prod
Tell you what! Hold on a tick! I’ll have a word with God.’
So off he went and twenty minutes later reappeared
Said he, ‘I’m very sorry but it’s just as I had feared
The Boss has had the final say and from it won’t be budged
Your fate will be decided and you simply must be judged.’
Well Willie had a stubborn streak, bull-headed through and through
In common with all Ulstermen he had his point of view
To other people’s reasoning deliberately blind
And nothing that they’d do or say would make him change his mind.
‘Your rules, he said, I won’t accept, I reckon they’re absurd
You say I’ve got to plead my case? Well I won’t say one word!
You cannot send me anywhere with due cause, let’s face it
So I won’t say one single thing on which to let you base it!’
St Peter was quite flummoxed and slowly scratched his head
Then turned round to the angel – ‘A private word’ – he said
He called him over to his side and whispered in his ear
Then said to Willie ‘It’s agreed – we cannot keep you here!’
He waved his hands and poor old Willie closed his eyes in dread ..
And suddenly opened them and found himself in bed
The sun shone through the window from a blue and cloudless sky
And that morning was the morning of the Twelfth Day of July!
Had it all been just a dream? Or had he really died?
There simply wasn’t anything to help him to decide
But without a place in heaven or hell, I’ll find it no surprise
If Willie isn’t marching for a thousand more Julys.