Cicely Fox Smith
The Derelict - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith
(Notice to Mariners: 'North Atlantic Ocean, - derelict reported')
I left her headed for Lord-knows-where, in latitude forty-nine,
With a cargo of deals from Puget Sound and her bows blown off by a mine;
I saw her just as the sun went down; I saw her - floating still,
And 'I hope them deals will let her sink afore so long,' said Bill.
It warn't no use to stand by her; she could neither sail nor steer,
With the better part of a thousand miles between her and Cape Clear.
The sea was up to her waterways, and gaining fast below,
But I'd like to know that she went to her rest as a ship has a right to go.
For it's bitter hard on a decent ship, look at it how you may
When she's worked her traverse and done her trick and sailed with the best in her day,
To be floatin' around like a nine-day drowned on the Western Ocean swell,
With never a one to hand and reef or steer and strike the bell:
No one to light 'er binnacle lamps an' see they're burnin' bright,
Or scour her planking, or scrape her seams when the days are sunny and bright;
No one to sit on her hatch and smoke and yarn when the day was done,
And say, 'That gear wants reevin' new some fine dog-watch, my son!'
No one to stand by the halyard pin when it's comin' on to blow;
Never the roar of 'Rio Grande' to the watch's stamp an' go;
Just the sea-birds sittin' along the rail and callin' the long day through
Like the souls of old dead sailormen that used to be her crew.
Never a port of all her ports for her to fetch again;
Nothing; only the sea and the sky, the sun and the wind and the rain.
It's cruel hard on a decent ship, and so I tell you true
That I wish I knew she had gone to her rest as a good ship ought to do.
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