Cicely Fox Smith

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

Sails - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith

Hails from Wales,
Does Sails.

For any old thing you like to choose
From a new main course to a pair of shoes,
Or a bolt o' canvas to roll your bones
In when you voyage to Davy Jones,
Or thundering cuffers as ever you heard,
Sails is the man, you take my word!

He sits on the hatch, when it's sunny and calm,
With his specs on his nose, and his needle and palm,
Stitches and patches and yarns away
Of the ships that he knew in a bygone day,
The single topsails that once he made
For the
Fiery Cross
in the China trade,
Ringtails, watersails, Lord knows what
Old kites whose fashion is near forgot;
And many a wonderful tale he tells
Of pirate junks off the Paracels,
And the great sea serpent he once saw rolled
Asleep on the water, fold on fold,
And a craft they spoke, of an unknown rig,
Beamy and bluff as a Geordie brig,
Tearing along in the teeth of the gale,
South o' the Cape, under all plain sail,
With a bloke that stood at the wheel and steered
In old-style togs, with a long white beard,
And the eyes of him, look you, burning bright,
Like coals of fire or a ship's portlight:
And 'Look you, sonnies,' says Sails, 'I reckon
That hooker's skipper wass - Vanderdecken!'

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Poem Submitted: Monday, August 30, 2010

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