Cicely Fox Smith
A Saint Of Cornwall - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith
I don't know who Saint Mawes was, but he surely can't have been
A stiff old stone gazebo on a carved cathedral screen,
Or a holy-looking customer rigged out in blue and red
In a sunset-coloured window with a soup-plate round his head.
But he must have been a skipper who had sailed the salt seas round
(Or at least as many of 'em as had in his time been found),
And sung his songs and kissed his girl and had his share of fun,
Till he took and got religion, when his sailing days were done.
He must have had a ruddy face, a grey beard neatly trimmed,
And eyes with crow's feet round them, neither are nor use had dimmed,
And he'd lean there on the jetty with his glass up to his eye,
And look across the Carrick Roads, and watch the ships go by,
And yarn with his old cronies of the ships he used to know,
And shipmates that he sailed with many and many a year ago,
In the West of England tin-boats on the Tyre and Sidon run,
Before he got religion or his sailing days were done.
And when he came at last to die, they'd lay him down to rest
On a green and grassy foreland sloping gently to the west,
Where the wind's cry and the gull's cry would be near him night and day,
And a rousing deep-sea shanty might come to him where he lay.
And they left him there a-sleeping, for to smell the harbour smells,
And to count the passing watches by the striking of the bells,
And listen to the sailormen a-singing in the sun,
Like a good old master mariner whose sailing days are done.
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