Cicely Fox Smith
Small Craft - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith
When Drake sailed out from Devon to break King Phillip's pride,
He had great ships at his bidding and little ones beside,
Revenge was there and Lion , and others known to fame,
And likewise he had Small Craft (which hadn't any name!).
Small Craft - Small Craft - to harry and to flout 'em!
Small Craft - Small Craft - you cannot do without 'em!
Their deeds are unrecorded, their names are never seen,
But we know that there were Small Craft - because there must have been!
When Nelson was blockading for three long years and more,
With many a bluff first-rater and oaken seventy-four,
To share the fun and fighting, the good chance and the bad,
Oh, he had also Small Craft - because he must have had!
Upon the skirts of battle from Sluys to Trafalgar
We know that there were Small Craft - because there always are!
Yacht, sweeper, sloop, and drifter - to-day as yesterday
The big ships fight the battles - but Small Craft clear the way.
They scout before the squadrons when mighty fleets engage,
They glean War's dreadful harvest when the fight has ceased to rage:
Too great they count no hazard, no task beyond their power:
And merchantmen bless Small Craft a hundred times an hour!
In Admirals' dispatches their names are seldom heard,
They justify their being by more than written word:
In battle, toil and tempest, and dangers manifold,
The doughty deeds of Small Craft will never all be told.
Scant ease and scantier leisure - they take no heed of these,
For men lie hard in Small Craft when storm is on the seas:
A long watch and a weary from dawn to set of sun -
The men who serve in Small Craft, their work is never done.
And if, as chance may have it, some bitter day they lie
Outclassed, out-gunned, out-numbered, with naught to do but die,
When the last gun's out of action, good-bye to ship and crew -
But men die hard in Small Craft, as they will always do!
Oh, Death comes once to each man, and the game it pays for all,
And Duty is but Duty, in great ship and in small,
And it will not vex their slumbers, or make less sweet their rest,
Though there's never a big black headline for Small Craft going west.
Great ships and mighty captains - to these their meed of praise,
For patience, skill and daring, and loud victorious days, -
To every man his portion, as is both right and fair,
But oh! Forget not Small Craft, for they have done their share.
Small Craft - Small Craft - from Scapa Flow to Dover:
Small Craft - Small Craft - all the wide world over:
At risk of war and shipwreck, torpedo, mine and shell,
All honour be to Small Craft, for oh! They've earned it well!
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