Cicely Fox Smith
The Return - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith
'When did your ship dock, Jim Dale,
That you come so late this night?
Long since I heard the clocks strike three,
And it will soon be light.'
'How did you get in, Jim Dale,
With the doors all locked and barred?
I never heard you knock nor call
Nor the dog bark in the yard.'
'They told me you were drowned and dead
In the South Seas cold and far,
At Paddy's Goose the tale was told,
And the Old Mahogany Bar.'
'Why do you look at me so sad,
So strange and shake your head?
They told me you were dead and drowned,
I cried my poor eyes red . . .
But it's hard for girls to walk alone
For the sake of them that's dead.'
He pointed to her faithless name
On his bare breast tattooed,
And ever the dripping wet in streams
Ran from him where he stood.
One moment, and she saw him clear -
The next, and he was gone,
Like a fitful moonbeam through the room
Passing - but no moon shone.
She heard no lifting of the latch,
No footstep on the stair,
No board that creaked in the still house
To show he had been there.
And up the street and down the street
No man might she behold,
But the clocked policeman on the beat
Striking his chest for cold.
She saw the rain come slanting down,
The sheds, the high dock wall,
The masts and funnels of the ships,
The derricks gaunt and tall.
And through the darkness and the rain
The light came creeping grey,
And all along the dreary street
The gas-lamps paled to day.
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