Cicely Fox Smith

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

Sea Sorrow - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith

'Didn't you sail with Billy Riley las' v'yage -
Bloke I used to know
In the port watch o' the old
'Eliza Masters'
Ay, I did so.

'An' could you tell me any pub where I'd be likely
To cross 'is 'awse ashore?'
You needn't look in no pub for Billy Riley,
'Cos 'e won't come back no more.

'Why, 'as 'e gone up to the South Seas then
An' lef' the sea for good,
An' set up 'ouse with a fuzzy-'eaded gal there,
Same's 'e allus said 'e would?'

'E ain't set up 'ouse with no gal, ain't Billy,
Not as I know on . . .
For there ain't no 'ouses nor there ain't no gals neither
In the place where Bill's gone.

There was an 'ead-wind an' a cross sea runnin',
An' the day bright an' fine,
An' it breezed up so's we 'ad to get the 'ead-sails off 'er,
'Alf-way up from the Line.

An' Bill laid out on the boom with another feller,
Makin' fast the jib down-haul,
An' they didn't git done an' come back same's they would 'ave
If they'd any sense at all.

But there they stopped to watch 'er stoopin', swayin',
I can jus' fancy 'ow,
All 'er pile o' canvas shinin', swellin',
An' the bubbles streamin' off 'er bow.

An the feller at the wheel 'e was a sodger
As warn't fit to drive an 'earse,
For 'e brought 'er up into the wind suddent,
'Cos 'e couldn't steer a curse.

So's the old gal took an' shoved 'er boom under,
Which she never done afore . . .
An' that's why I'm tellin' you as Billy Riley
Ain't comin' back no more . . .

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Poem Submitted: Monday, August 30, 2010

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