Cicely Fox Smith

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

Royal Yacht - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith

Samuel Pepys, as all men know,
Loved ladies and ships in the long ago;
A rounded bosom, an ankle trim
Were toys that came not amiss to him;
And yet his soul took an equal joy
In frigate and first-rate, ketch and hoy -

Sweepstakes, Orange-Tree, Garland, Hope,
Unicorn, Phoenix
and
Antelope
.

Samuel Pepys, on the Sabbath Day,
When St Olave's chime called folk to pray
Forth from his house in Seething Lane
Churchward would pace with wig and cane,
Sober, sedate and dignified,
To his wonted seat by his lady's side.
And it well might be that once in a while,
When the preacher was dull and his matter was vile,
Good Master Samuel's thoughts would wander
From the parson's droning, now here, now yonder -
To last night's music and dance and laughter,
To kisses he stole (and repented after),
To the fine new suit that so much became him,
And its cost, wherefor his wife did blame him,
And the sound of voices singing together
On the sunlit Pool in the summer weather
That day they rowed from the Tower in wherries
To kiss ripe lips and eat ripe cherries . . .
And then it might chance his mind would turn
On public matters of grave concern,
Like the latest trouble afoot - Od rat 'em! -
With the master-shipwrights down at Chatham,
And the plaguey waste of carving and building
On Old Rowley's yacht, just then a-building . . .
Till the periwigged pate drooped more and more
And Samuel Pepys began to snore.

Samuel Pepys-God rest his bones! -
Sleeps soundly under St Olave's stones;
Folly, finery, feasting, fun,
The good and the bad of him, all are done.
But here's the model he may have pondered
In his oaken pew while his fancy wandered
Of the new yacht building at Chatham Yard,
Curved like a lady, slender-sparred,
With her garlanded ports and her gilded galleries,
And her figurehead with its carved fallaleries,
Her smirking Loves with their chubby paunches,
And Tritons blowing on fluted conches,
Just as they were in that vanished heyday
When Samuel Pepys loved ship and lady -
Tall ship, fair lady, now long since passed
Where ships and ladies all wend at last.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, August 30, 2010



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