Cicely Fox Smith

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

Old Stormy - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith

'Stormy's dead,' I heard them say, 'he's dead and gone to rest';
Of all the skippers I have known old Stormy was the best,
His name was known on every sea, his fame on many a shore,
And Stormy's dead, that good old man, he'll sail the sea no more.

A rough old, tough old nut of an old-style hard-case skipper
As ever cracked on sail in a racing Melbourne clipper,
And hung on to his topsails in bad weather off the Horn,
And made a crew of deadbeats wish they never had been born.

In the Western Ocean packets had old Stormy served his time,
He had known the Blackwall frigates and the tea-fleet in its prime,
In the days of single topsails, stunsails, Jamie Greens and all,
Stormy'd sailed for Hell or Melbourne in the ships of the Black Ball.

He was skipper of the
Sheba
- she was one of Farlane's best,
Sister ship to
Eldorado
and
Golconda
and the rest,
'Farlane's yachts' they always called them from Blackwall to Sandridge Pier,
Slashing ships and smart as frigates - skysail yards and lots o' sheer.

'
Sheba's
luck' they used to talk of in the ports both near and far,
For he drove her like a demon, but she never lost a spar,
Roaring westward in the forties with her maindeck white with foam,
Flying light with Gippsland fleeces on the long sea road for home.

Twenty years old Stormy had her, and he loved her like his own,
But the day of steam was coming and the day of sail had flown,
And the times they kept on changing, and the freights they fell away,
And they sold the
Sheba
foreign, for they said she didn't pay.

And old Stormy heard the tidings with a sad and sorry heart,
'Twenty years,' he said, 'I've had her, and it's bitter hard to part,
Twenty years we've been together, but I'm getting old, I know,
And they've sold the
Sheba
foreign, and it's time for me to go.'

So he left the little
Sheba
for to start her life anew,
With a whiskered Dago captain and a greasy Dago crew,
And a brand-new Dago ensign where the Duster used to be . . .
But the
Sheba's
luck had left her when old Stormy left the sea.

And she barged away down Channel in the equinoctial gales,
With a black nor'-easter blowing, and she loaded down with rails,
And the seas they pooped her cruel, and a big one broached her to,
And she couldn't seem to right herself, for all that they could do,
And the water came aboard her, and her masts went overside,
And she took and drowned herself at last, the night old Stormy died.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, August 30, 2010



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