The Twelfth of July

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.

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