Cicely Fox Smith

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

Shipmates (Clipper Ship Mary Ambree) - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith

These are the men that sailed with me
In the Colonies clipper
Mary Ambree

These are the men that kept her going
Through the fog and the ice and the big gales blowing:
Skipper and bosun, mates and sails,
Tough as leather and hard as nails,
Wise in the ways of seas and ships,
Soaked in brine to the finger-tips.

These are the chaps that toiled together
In Trade and Doldrum and black Horn weather:
Stood their trick on a beggarly whack
Of junk and limejuice and mouldy tack,
Scoured and holystoned, reefed and furled,
Watch and watch round the whole wet world,
Hauled and sweated at sheets and braces
With the sun in their eyes or the sleet in their faces,
Fought and fisted the frozen courses
On footropes jumping like bucking horses.

These are the men that sailed and manned,
Worked her and drove her from land to land,
Most of 'em gone, as the ships are gone,
For times must change, as the old words run,
And men change with 'em, we know full well;
For worse or for better? Time will tell.
This only is certain - ships and men,
We never shall build their likes again.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, August 30, 2010

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