Cicely Fox Smith

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

Departure - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith

When I was a lad
No more than a nipper
I signed in a packet
Called the
Highland Maid

To pay out my dad
‘Cos he dusted my jacket
For some sort o’ trick
As I’d been and gone and played. . . .

She'd a mate as could kick
An' a boozing skipper;
She rolled like a pig an’ she steered like a hearse,
An’ the pork was rotten an’ the beef was worse;
So afore so long, as you may fancy,
I was sick an sorry, or my name ain’t Clancy.
It blew like hell when we sunk the Foreland
Night comin’ on an’ a cold rain fallin’,
The poor old barkey with her lee rail under,
An’ a great big darkey with a voice like thunder
Settin’ a tune to the halliard chorus
An’ our homes astern an’ the seas afore us,
An’ I says to myself, “When I’m once ashore
I’ll quit the sea an I’ll sail no more,”
As I watched an’ watched till there warn’t no more land -
Nothin’ to see of the home I was leavin’
Only the rain an’ the grey waves heavin’,

An’ a few gulls astern of us a-callin’
An’ a-hollerin’;
“Here’s another young silly
Young billy
Of a sailor chap wot’s took to follerin’
The sea. . . .”

It’s a divil of a while since then, Lord knows,
An’ the years they comes an’ the years they goes,
An’ my old dad’s dead long since wot licked me,
An’ the boozy skipper an’ the mate as kicked me;
An' the shantying darkey
His singin’ ‘s past,
An' the poor old barkey
She’s leaked her last,
An’ the world’s as wide an’ the sea’s as wet
As they was when I started - but I ain’t quit yet!

An' the same old gulls they’re a-callin’
An’ a-hollerin;
“Here’s another young silly
Young billy
Of a sailor chap wot can’t quit follerin’
The sea. . . .”

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Poem Submitted: Monday, August 30, 2010

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