Cicely Fox Smith
Recollection - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith
Do you remember the ol'
Isle o' Skye
As we sailed in years ago;
The time we loaded nitrates home from Chile?
' . . . Ay, I do so.'
An' how we was 'ove to in the South Atlantic
For two nights an' a day;
An' the long calm as druv the Ol' Man frantic,
An' the dustin' we 'ad in the Bay?
She was a tough ship, Bill, an' no bloomin' error,
Was that same ol' hooker,
An' for losin' 'ands from the braces a fair terror -
But a rare good-looker.
An' the skipper was the 'ardest nut I've clapped my eyes on,
'Cept the mate, an' 'e was worse;
An' the grub Slush served us out was more like p'ison,
Fit to make a bone idol curse.
There warn't none o' these 'ere curries an' calavances
Used to come our way then,
An' such-like stuff as Board o' Trade blokes fancies
Is good scoff for sailor-men.
And, Bill, it's rum, but I'd go back this minute,
I'd give the good grub an' the good pay
To be bitin' on 'ard tack with weevils in it
In that ol' ship this day . . .
To be layin' out on a yard when it's hailin' an' snowin'
Off o' the Straits o' Le Mair,
Fistin' a frozen course with big guns blowin'
So's you can't 'ear to swear . . .
Or runnin' the Eastin' down with both rails rollin'
An' burying theirselves in foam . . .
Or climbin' the Trade at a good fourteen on a bowline,
With 'er course set for 'ome . . .
Or haulin' topsail yards in the Biscay weather
When the waist's a smother o' snow -
Or settin' on the fore-hatch yarnin' together
In fine watches below . . .
Sharin' the good an' the bad, an' the rough an' the smooth of it
In the ol'
Isle o' Skye
. . .
That's where I'd be if I could, Bill, an' that's the plain truth of it . . .
' . . . And, by cripes, so would I!'
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