Cicely Fox Smith

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

The Ballad Of The Matterhorn - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith

By Casey's Occidental Rooms, when the sun is getting low,
The chattering crowds of Chinatown along the pavements go,
And then you'll hear the wrangling gulls about the harbour-side,
And see the ships come in which use the oceans deep and wide,
And smell the smell o' the waterfront, the shipping and the tide.

And there do meet all brands o' folk which on the Coast are found,
From Behring Strait to Mexico, from Frisco and the Sound,
The Dago and the Dutchman there, with all queer breeds that be,
Stand up to drink with Jap and Chink beside the western sea.

'Well, safe we got to Callao, but we were long a-going,
The old tub leaking like a sieve, old Horn his hardest blowing;
The big seas swept her fore and aft; the sails they cut like steel;
Our bodies to the yards they froze, our hands froze to the wheel.'

'And them that sailed before us came, and most that since did sail,
They came all battered with the seas and broken with the gale;
And one that had been missing long, with sticks all snapped and shorn
Limped in to tell her tale ashore, but not the

'So last we knew that she was gone, as best and worst may go,
The good ship and the bad likewise, the fast ship and the slow;
A fast ship was the
when all them kites was spread,
A fast ship and fine she was - 'Ay, she was fast,' I said.

From course to skysail up she soared like a midsummer cloud;
In all the earth I have not seen a thing more brave and proud;
And she is gone as dreams do go, or song sung long before,
Or the golden years of a man's youth when they are his no more.

And all the shining moons of youth, and all the stars of dream
Were tangled in her topmast spars and through her shrouds did gleam;
Now thundering like a North Sea gale, now humming faint and low,
Came singing with her down the years the winds of long ago.

By Casey's Occidental Rooms a bitter thing I heard,
With a heavy heart I turned away, and long I spoke no word;
I bared my head there where I stood, 'God rest her soul,' I said,
As if a woman I had loved in a far land was dead.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, August 30, 2010

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