Cicely Fox Smith

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

Portrait Of A Lady-2 - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith

Pilot boat, lighthouse,
Stiff green sea -
House-flag and number
Plain as can be -

Sails like the cheek
Of the cherubim -
Blackwall fashion,
Shipshape and trim -

Cottonwool clouds
In a crude blue sky -
Who owned it, I wonder
In days gone by?

What old skipper
Or mate, maybe,
Snug by his fireside,
Done with the sea,

Lovingly scanned it
With age-dimmed eyes,
Saw in his pipe-smoke
Pictures rise -

Let, by the lamplight,
Memory range
A hundred harbours
And landfalls stange:

Mast-fringed Hooghly
And junk-thronged Praya,
And mat-thatched hamlets
Of far Malaya:

The Trade exultant,
The Doldrum calm,
The long surf creaming
On shores of palm:

Channels Formosan
Towering, tremendous
Seas of the Horn:

Long-lost shipmates
In long-drowned ships -
Smiling, yet sadly,
With bearded lips.

To think of the laughter
And larks that he had
In the old windjammers
When he was a lad,

And the storms he weathered
And songs he sung,
In days long over,
When earth was young!

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Poem Submitted: Monday, August 30, 2010

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