Cicely Fox Smith

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

In Sailortown - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith

They don't sell no flash gear in Sailortown -
In Sailortown -
Where the slop shops
And the pop shops
And the sheeny dealers be
That sell caps and walking-sticks
To sailors in from sea,
Handkerchiefs with horseshoes
And shore-going suits,
Cheap yellow oilskins
And shoddy sea-boots,
Glass beads and brass rings
As cheap as bought kisses . . .
That's the stuff they sell
In a street like this is.

They don't serve no swell eats in Sailortown -
In Sailortown -
Where the Chink shops
And the slink shops
And the sausage counters are,
But there's laughter and dancing in Muldoon's Bar,
Noodles, and stewed eels,
Greasy and slippy,
And the smell of hot chestnuts
When the nights get nippy,
Coffee and cocoa
It's worth your while suppin',
Hot and sweet and thick
That a spoon 'ud stand up in . . .

They ain't got grand shop-fronts in Sailortown -
In Sailortown -
The Jew shops,
The tattoo shops,
And the junk stores and the rest . . .
But the shipchandler's window it does its blooming best
With its coils of new cable
And copper and brass,
Winking and shining
That cheerful as you pass,
And the yellow, red and blue
Of its bunting fresh and new,
And megaphones like mates' mouths
Open wide to bawl -
'Heave now and bust her,
Ye sojers, heave and pawl!' . . .
And something sets you thinking
Of things half forgotten,
Of old lost ships
Whose bones have long been rotten,
Foreign ports and far seas
And chaps you used to know,
And scraps of old shanties
That you sang long ago . . .

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Poem Submitted: Monday, August 30, 2010

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