Cicely Fox Smith

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

Sea Change - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith

There was fog off the Foreland, white as wool, and Billy he says, says he.
'If ever I win the Calcutta Sweep, a thing as might easy be,
I'll build me an 'ouse down Ramsgate way, as near to the drink's I can get
Without an 'igh tide comin' inside an' makin' the doormat wet;
So's I can lay in the blankets o' nights when the Foreland fog-'orn 's goin'
And 'ear 'im blarin' the 'ole night long an' the steamers' sirens blowin',
An' think o' the bosun rousin' the watch with a voice as'd wake the dead -
'Jump now, ye sogers, rise an' shine!' . . . an' say as I turn in my bed,
'Now ain't you glad, young feller me lad, now ain't you glad you're 'ere,
As warm an' snug as a bug in a rug, with plenty o' pals an' beer,
An' not out there wi' the fog in your eyes an' the drizzle drenchin' you through,
Like them poor divvles o' sailormen wot ain't as lucky as you?''

Off o' the Lizard she shipped 'em green, and Billy these words did say,
'When I get spliced to a wider with cash, which I mean to be some day,
We'll settle down in a snug little pub, will me and my blushin' bride,
An' where it may be don't matter to me so long as it's waterside;
So when it's blowin' a beast of a gale an' snowin' as well may be
I can lay in the sheets like a bloomin' lord and think o' the ships at sea,
An' the fellers fistin' the topsails down when they're stiff wi' the frozen spray,
Or flounderin' round in the flooded waist . . . an' just turn over and say,
'Now ain't you glad, young feller me lad, you're anchored safe ashore,
Instead o' fightin' with frozen sails the same as you used before
Instead o' haulin' on sodden ropes with a thunderin' surf alee,
Like them poor divvles o' sailormen as keeps on going to sea?''

Down in the Tropics she logged it fine, and Billy he says, says he,
'You may talk as you like o' your berths ashore, but this is the sort for me;
Gimme a trick at the wheel,' says he, 'an' the flyin'-fish an' the spray,
I wouldn't swop for a fried-fish shop or a pub down Ratcliff way;
For it's grand to feel the sun on your neck an' the wheel-spokes warm to your 'and,
An' think o' fellers trampin' around in the cold an' the rain on the land,
An' 'ear the same ole steady ole Trade as he shoves the ole barkey along
In shrouds an' backstays an topsail sheets a-singin' the same ole song,
'Now ain't you glad, young feller me lad, now ain't you glad you're 'ere,
Without no wife to trouser your pay an' leave you a bob for beer?
Now ain't you glad, young feller me lad, you signed an' sailed once more,
Instead o' trudgin' around in the wet like them poor divvles ahore?''


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Poem Submitted: Monday, August 30, 2010



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