Cicely Fox Smith

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

Ex-Voto Breton Church Model - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith

Once on a day a Paimpol man
Promised a ship to the good St. Anne . . .

Name of a name! How the great seas roared,
Tossing their manes as they crashed aboard!
So large the ocean, the ship so small,
There seemed no hope she could live at all;
So in his need did the Paimpol man
Promise a ship to the good St. Anne.

Ah, such a ship! No thing of botches
A man might make in a couple of watches,
But his own ship, see you, the staunch goelette,
Named for St. Yves, with all sail set,
Her hull to scale and her rigging to plan -
A credit to him and to good St. Anne.

And the gale went down and the peril was past,
And ship and seaman came home at last;
And when 'Pardon' dawned in the spring of the year,
Barefoot, bareheaded, in fisherman's gear,
True to his word came the Paimpol man
Bringing a ship to the good St. Anne.

What was the end of him? Who shall tell
Whether his fishing fared ill or well?
Whether he sleeps among churchyard graves
Or far from home in the restless waves,
Fathoms deep where the cold seas roll
From Rockall Bank to the rim of the Pole?

And his ship - did she moulder at last away
On a peaceful beach in some Breton bay,
Where the fishermen's bairns would climb and hide
The long day through round her weed-hung side,
Or pound to chips in a flurry of foam
On St. Gildas Isle within hail of home?

But here is the ship that a Paimpol man
Vowed on a day to the good St. Anne.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, August 30, 2010



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