Herman Melville

(1 August 1819 – 28 September 1891 / New York City, New York)

Tom Deadlight - Poem by Herman Melville

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Farewell and adieu to you noble hearties,--
Farewell and adieu to you ladies of Spain,
For I've received orders for to sail for the
Deadman,
But hope with the grand fleet to see you
again.

I have hove my ship to, with main-top-sail
aback, boys;
I have hove my ship to, for the strike
soundings clear--
The black scud a'flying; but, by God's blessing,
dam' me,
Right up the Channel for the Deadman I'll
steer.

I have worried through the waters that are
called the Doldrums,
And growled at Sargasso that clogs while ye
grope--
Blast my eyes, but the light-ship is hid by the
mist, lads:--
_Flying Dutchman_--odds bobbs--off the
Cape of Good Hope!

But what's this I feel that is fanning my cheek,
Matt?
The white goney's wing?--how she rolls!--
't is the Cape!--
Give my kit to the mess, Jock, for kin none is
mine, none;
And tell _Holy Joe_ to avast with the crape.

Dead reckoning, says _Joe_, it won't do to go by;
But they doused all the glims, Matt, in sky
t' other night.
Dead reckoning is good for to sail for the
Deadman;
And Tom Deadlight he thinks it may reckon
near right.

The signal!--it streams for the grand fleet to
anchor.
The captains--the trumpets--the hullabaloo!
Stand by for blue-blazes, and mind your
shank-painters,
For the Lord High Admiral, he's squinting
at you!

But give me my _tot_, Matt, before I roll over;
Jock, let's have your flipper, it's good for to
feel;
And don't sew me up without _baccy_ in mouth,
boys,
And don't blubber like lubbers when I turn
up my keel.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 19, 2010



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