Cicely Fox Smith

(1 February 1882 – 8 April 1954 / Lymm, Cheshire)

Christmas Night - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith

I
We shipped a sea on Christmas night -
On Christmas night, on Christmas night! -
From stem to stern the decks were white ...
'One more like that,' the mate did say,
'And she'll not last till the break of day,'
So deep she rolled, so ill she lay,
All the night long till the morning.

It was black dark, and the gale screamed,
On Christmas night, on Christmas night ...
Like gushing wounds her swing-ports streamed;
All ice the yard was where we clung,
The frozen shrouds shrill carols sung,
Like harps the twangling backstays rung
All the night long till the morning!

We called all hands, we hove her to,
On Christmas night, on Christmas night;
And nothing then was left to do
But hang on all, and wait, and pray
For nothing else to carry away,
So she might last till the break of day,
All the night long till the morning.
II
And one big roaring sailorman
A sort of rambling yarn began
About a place nigh Wexford town,
And the river Slaney flowing down
By the farm where he was born an' rared;
'And my old mother - she's not heard
A word o' me this many a year ...
But I've got stuff and I've got gear
Stowed in my sea-chest all for her -
I think I see them old eyes stare -
A lump o' coral like a tree
Them nigs dive after in Feejee,
A Spanish shawl and a carved fan,
And a little tea-set from Japan
That's blue and white, and wee and small,
If this black gale don't break it all ...

But the night passed, and the great gale
Went down at dawn … and we made sail,
And sent the yards to the masthead,
The watch sung out to wake the dead ...
'Them tea-things is all right,' Dan said.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, August 30, 2010



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