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Cicely Fox Smith

(1882-1954 / England)

A Job O' Work


'I ain't no glutton for work,' said Bill, 'though I done my whack in my day,
An' I'd never say 'No' to a boss's job if such was to come my way;
But many's the time I've proved this true since first I followed the sea -
A job o' work's a wonderful thing, an' you can take it from me.'

'When your nine months' pay is a song that's sung an' your gear's a yarn that's spun,
An' your girl's took up with a steamboatman as soon's your cash was done,
An' you're back to the sea as plenty o' chaps 'ave been since the world began -
Both ends an' the bight of a bloomin' fool of a dead-broke sailorman;'

'An' you've shipped aboard of an outward-bound, but you can't remember when,
An' you're sick an' sorry an' ready to swear as you won't touch liquor again,
An' you've got a head like a lump o' lead an' a throat as dry as a bone,
An' you don't much care if she sinks or swims so long's they leave you alone;'

'An' a hard-case mate comes waltzin' around as ugly as he can be,
And yanks you out by the slack o' your pants, an' cusses frequent an' free -
Just bear in mind as you've come to a place where back-chat isn't allowed,
An' ketch a holt o' the tackle-fall an' tally on with the crowd!'

'An' afore the tugboat's dropping astern you'll be singin' out like the rest,
An' afore the pilot's over the side you'll pull your weight with the best,
An' afore the old dead 'orse is out an' 'oisted over the rail,
You'll be scoffin' pantiles an' 'arness-beef as if they was cakes an' ale.'

'For whether it's trampin' the capstan round or whether it's shiftin' sail,
Or whether it's hangin' on by your teeth in the thick of a Cape 'Orn gale,
Or sweatin' up a t'gal'n yard, or tackin' ship with the watch,
Or sittin' makin' rovin's, maybe, in the sun on the after-hatch,
Or scrapin' cables or tarrin' down all day in the blue Trade weather,
A job o' work's a wonderful thing for pullin' a man together!'

Submitted: Monday, August 30, 2010

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