Cicely Fox Smith

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

Dan's Odyssey - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith

'I've sailed in a deal o' ships,' said Dan,
'Since first my sailorin' days began:
For I never could stick, the way I'm made,
To the same ol' ship an' the same ol' trade,
An' the same ol' places time an' again,
No better'n a bloomin' railway train.
Fact of it is, I'm a bit of a roamer,
The same as that there bloke in
'Omer
. . .
I was in a barque, the
'Omer
, once,
Bit of a thing, five 'undred tons,
And 'omeward bound, I well recall,
With a cargo of ore from Carrizal;
The very day we made the Lizard
There came away a beast of a blizzard
As kep' us beatin' to an' fro
For more'n a week in sleet an' snow,
And thinkin' o' the Christmas dinners
Waitin' ashore for us poor sinners.'

'Lord, what a fleet them ships 'ud be
If you could see 'em all!' said he.
'Fust o' the lot, the old
Johore
-
Parsee-built in 'forty-four -
She was a good old has-been too,
Malabar teak right through an' through,
With a galleried stern and big bluff bows
An' six glass stern-ports just like a 'ouse:
An' she'd got that old an' she got that leaky,
When we loaded nitrates 'ome from Iquique;
We pumped all night an' we pumped all day
Like pumpin' the blessed sea away,
Round the 'Orn and up to the Line,
An' we blessed the stars as the passage was fine,
An' a shore gang 'ad to take her on
An' start to pump afore we was gone
Or else she'd 'ave sunk in the New South Dock . . .'

'Next was the clipper
Inchcape Rock
:
She was a beauty, she was a queen,
Loveliest thing as ever I seen!
Why did I leave 'er? I dunno -
I was tired of 'er - I 'ad to go.'

'Then came the
Stromness
, Colonies clipper,
Wot 'ad ol' Bully Baynes for skipper:
It was a treat to 'ear 'im swear!
You bet I wasn't long in 'er.
I run 'er in 'Frisco for a spouter,
A reg'lar ol'-time out-an'-outer
As went up North to the Behring Sea:
That was too blinkin' cold for me.'

'Next, Gow's old packet
Inisfail
:
I tell you, that old ship could sail!
The
'Omer
, 'er I spoke of first,
The
Tees
ol' shellbacks said was cursed
Because she always killed 'er man:

The Star of Peace
, the
Gulistan
,
Nor them ain't all by chalks,' said Dan.

'Fact of it is, it seems to me
A sort o' bloomin' Uly-see
Is wot I've allus been,' said he.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, August 30, 2010



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