Cicely Fox Smith

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

Old Wood Is Best - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith

A fire that’s made of green wood -
Of greenwood -
A fire that’s mad of greenwood
Is nought but smoke and smell;
So light your fire of old wood -
Of old wood -
See your fire be old wood
And it will warm you well.

A ship that’s built of new wood -
Of new wood -
A ship that’s built of new wood
Will let the salt sea through;
So look your plamks be seasoned -
Well seasoned -
Build of wood well seasoned
Or you shall surely rue.

A house that’s built of green wood -
Of green wood -
The roof that’s built of green wood
Will only warp and fall;
So look your beams be old wood -
Be old wood -
Look you build with old wood
Or never build at all.

Oak and elm and chestnut -
Sweet chestnut -
Oak and elm and chestnut
That grow on English ground;
And best if you can get ‘em -
Can get ‘em -
Ship’s ribs if you can get ‘em
That have sailed the world around.

For old wine’s the best wine -
The best wine -
The oldest wine’s the best wine
And best the oldest friend.
And an old ship’s timbers -
Old timbers -
An old ship’s timbers
Will serve you to the end.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, August 30, 2010



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