Cicely Fox Smith

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

Commodore (North Atlantic Mail Service) - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith

Twice twenty thousand tons of steel obey his sole command:
He rules, a king whose lightest word is law from land to land:
And he'd give it all to be fisting down a topsail once again,
With the mate at the bunt a-cursing his best and the skipper raising Cain,
Or bracing yards to each baffling breath in the wayward Doldrum weather,
Or tarring down in the North-east Trades, his chum and he together,
Or sand-and-canvassing down the poop till the planks shone white as snow -
A care-free young brassbounder outward bound to Callao -
A long watch ago.

In harbour trim from head to heel, each day he goes arrayed
With buttons bright as burnished gold and rows of gleaming braid:
And he'd chop the blessed lot, Lord knows! For a suit of dungarees
All paint and pitch, with a patch on the seat, and his trousers up to his knees,
For the feel of the planking warm to his toes and his sun-tanned skin aglow,
A lively young brassbounder outward bound to Callao -
A long watch ago.

He dines in state with glass and plate and a steward by his chair,
A band to play his victuals down and fancy foreign fare:
And he'd swop it all for a greasy kid of pork both salt and tough,
And a lump of leathery harness beef and a slab of the doctor's duff,
And the hot sweet taste of the galley tea and the coffee's nameless flavour,
With the wine of youth to wash 'em down and the salt of youth to savour,
And the cabin tarts he collared that, by gum! he relished so,
A lively young brassbounder,
A care-free young brassbounder -
A hungry young brassbounder outward bound to Callao,
A long watch ago.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, August 30, 2010

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