Cicely Fox Smith
Romance And Reality - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith
A boy there was and he went to sea
With a head as full as a head could be
Of all the yarns that ever he'd read
By an inch of candle at night in bed . . .
He thought a sailor had nothing to do
When the wind was fair and the skies were blue
But sit in the sun and watch the ship
Sailing herself at a twelve-knot clip,
With a song and a yarn and a hornpipe or so
To liven him up when things got slow.
He thought it sounded a first-rate notion
To be cast away in the Southern Ocean
And rig himself in a home-made trousseau
And ramble round like
With plenty of turtles' eggs to scoff
Till a ship chanced by and took him off.
He often dreamed about digging up gold
The pirates hid in the days of old,
Though why in thunder they went and hid it
Nobody knows but the blokes that did it.
But-there's not much time for hornpipe-dancing
With a-hard-case mate that's always prancing
And bawling round in a voice like thunder,
'Jump now, ye sojers, or stand from under!'
And a length of rope's-end neatly planted
Was all the livening-up he wanted.
And the only island the ship went smash on
It hadn't been furnished
There weren't any turtles' eggs on the beaches,
Nor goats with skins to make into breeches;
And after they'd lived a month or more
On things they found on the rocks and the shore,
Winkles and weed as salt as the dickens
And penguins' eggs that were nearly chickens;
Talk about islands-well, no one reckoned
He ever wanted to sample a second . . .
And he never had time nor he never had leisure
For little matters like hunting treasure,
So all the treasure ever he found
While he was sailing the wide seas round
Was a handful or two of pay to burn-
Easy to spend but the devil to earn!-
And a head as full as a head could be
Of an old man's dreams of the ships and the sea.
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