Cicely Fox Smith
Odyssey - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith
“It’s all very well these ‘ere blessed flim-flammers -
These ‘ere bloomin’ OMERS an’ suchlike
Writin’ books about the ol’ windjammers,
Same as I used to know,” said Mike;
“All about the wonderful sort o’ things as goes on
Or as used to go on at sea;
But nothin’ ever used to ‘appen as I know on -
Leastways, it never did to me.
I’ve been follerin’ the sea since I was a nipper
An’ sailed in a bullyboy from Humber way
With a real old ‘ard case of a preachin’ skipper
As wrung my ear-‘ole ten times a day.
An’ I’ve done nothin’ much else but roam about
In all sorts o’ ships the whole world round,
But I never seed nothin’ in it to write ‘ome about -
Leastways, nothin’ as I ever found.
You turnin’ in to a wet bunk after ‘arf the night haulin’
On ropes as stiff as bars in a freezin’ gale,
An’ as soon as you’d shut an eye there’d be the bosun bawlin’;
“Turn out all hands, an’ shorten sail!”
You could grumble an’ grouse, but you just had to do it;
When the mate said ‘Go.’ You’d
‘Ard work an’ rotten grub an’ there weren’t much else to it,
You can take that from me - for why? I
You signed on an’ you paid off an’ you drawed your pay an’ blowed it,
An’ when you got down to your last pence
You took an’ signed on again afore you knowed it
(Because you ‘adn’t got no more sense).
The tack was full o’ weevils an’ the beef was stinkin’,
What bit of it you got;
An’ you went to all sorts o’ foreign ports where the beer weren’t worth drinkin’
(An' when you’d seen one you’d seen the lot).
Some weather was good an’ some was mucky,
The same as it is anywhere you go;
An’ your pay was three-poun’-ten a month if you was lucky;
An’ some ships was fast an’ some was slow,
You might get a kicking mate or a crazy cap’n,
For you never quite know your luck at sea;
But as for anythin’ ‘appenin’ - wot you might call
Well, it didn’t, that’s all.” Said he.
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