"Everything is for a term venerated in navies" (30.1). The men become obsessed with the spar from where Billy was hung, and always keep track of it where the ship is at sea or on dock. To get a piece of it was like getting a piece of the cross.
For those who knew Billy, they simply could not believe that he had mutinous or murderous intent, and their good impression of him was strengthened by the fact that he was gone.
The estimate of Billy's nature eventually was given rude utterance by the new foretopman who wrote an artless poem to commemorate him. It would later be printed at Portsmouth as a ballad.
The poem is written from Billy's point of view the night before his execution.
It ends, "I feel it stealing now. Sentry, are you there? Just ease these darbies at the wrist, And roll me over fair! I am sleep, and the oozy weeds about me twist" (30.2).