Cicely Fox Smith

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

Pictures - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith

'Some likes pictures o' women,' said Bill, 'an' some like 'orses best,'
As he fitted a pair of fancy shackles on to his old sea chest,
'But I like pictures o' ships,' said he, 'an' you can keep the rest.
An' if I was a ruddy millionaire with dollars to burn that way,
Instead of a dead-broke sailorman as never saves his pay,
I'd go to some big paintin' guy an' this is what I'd say:

'Paint me the Cutty Sark ,' I'd say, 'or the old Thermopylae ,
Or the Star o' Peace as I sailed in once in my young days at sea,
Shipshape and Blackwall fashion, too, as a clipper ought to be . . .
An' you might do 'er outward bound, with a sky full o' clouds,
An' the tug just dropping astern, an' gulls flyin' in crowds,
An' the decks shiny-wet with rain, an' the wind shakin' the shrouds . . .
Or else racin' up Channel with a sou'wester blowin',
Stuns'ls set aloft and alow, an' a hoist o' flags showin',
An' a white bone between her teeth so's you can see she's goin' . . .
Or you might do 'er off Cape Stiff, in the high latitudes yonder,
With 'er main deck a smother of white, an' her lee-rail dippin' under,
An' the big greybeards racin' by an' breakin' aboard like thunder . . .
Or I'd like old Tuskar somewheres abound . . . or Sydney 'Eads maybe . . .
Or a couple o' junks, if she's tradin' East, to show it's the China Sea. . .
Or Bar Light . . . or the Tail o' the Bank . . . or a glimp o' Circular Quay.
An' I don't want no dabs o' paint as you can't tell what they are,
Whether they're shadders, or fellers' faces, or blocks, or blobs o' tar,
But I want gear as looks like gear, an' a spar that's like a spar.
An' I don't care if it's North or South, the Trades or the China Sea,
Shortened down or everything set - close-hauled or runnin' free -
You paint me a ship as is like a ship . . . an' that'll do for me!''

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Poem Submitted: Monday, August 30, 2010

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