Cicely Fox Smith
Admiral Dugout - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith
He had done with fleets and squadrons, with the restless, roaming seas,
He had found the quiet haven he desired,
And he lay there to his moorings with the dignity and ease
Most becoming to Rear-Admirals (retired).
He was reared 'mid 'Spit and Polish,' he was bred to 'stick and string' -
All the things the ultra-moderns never name:
But a wind blew up to seaward, and it meant the Real Thing,
And he had to slip his cable when it came.
So he hied him up to London, for to hang about Whitehall,
And he sat upon the steps there soon and late:
He importuned night and morning, he bombarded great and small,
From messengers to Ministers of State.
He was like a guilty conscience, he was like a ghost unlaid,
He was like a debt of which you can't get rid,
Till the Powers that Be, despairing, in a fit of temper said,
'For the Lord's sake give him something' - and they did!
They commissioned him a trawler with a high and raking bow,
Black and workmanlike as any pirate craft,
With a crew of steady seamen very handy in a row,
And a brace of little barkers fore and aft.
And he blessed the Lord his Maker when he faced the North Sea sprays,
And exceedingly extolled his lucky star,
That had given his youth renewal in the evening of his days
(With the rank of Captain Dugout, R.N.R.).
He is jolly as a sandboy, he is happier than a king,
And his trawler is the darling of his heart,
(With her cuddy like a cupboard where a kitten couldn't swing,
And a scent of fish that simply won't depart).
He has found upon occasion sundry targets for his guns,
He could tell you tales of mine and submarine,
Oh the holes he's in and out of, and the glorious risks he runs
Turn his son (who's in a Super-Dreadnought) green.
He is fit as any fiddle, he is hearty, hale and tanned;
He is proof against the coldest gales that blow.
He has never felt so lively since he got his first command,
(Which is rather more than forty years ago).
And of all the joyful picnics of his wild and wandering youth,
Little dust-ups 'tween Taku and Zanzibar,
There was none to match the picnic, he declares in sober sooth,
That he has as Captain Dugout, R.N.R.
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