Cicely Fox Smith
The Skipper - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith
A rough old nut,
A tough old nut
Of a skipper:
But the right stuff,
For a racing clipper.
Stiff and sturdy and five foot seven -
Cares for nobody under heaven;
All a-taut-o from truck to keel,
Will like iron and nerves like steel:
Loves his old packet better 'n his life,
Loves her like sweetheart, or child, or wife:
Runs down the easting under all she'll carry,
Hates taking sail off her worse 'n Old Harry!
When winds are baffling, or Trades are slack,
Or she's beating to windward tack and tack,
And the most she's logging is nine or ten,
He's the devil and all to live with then.
He curses the watch and he rows the mates,
Gives steward the jumps till he smashes the plates,
And nibbles his nails, and damns the weather,
And wishes the lot at the deuce together.
But oh! it's a different sort of a tale
When the seventeenth knot is over the rail,
With the Forties roaring their blooming best,
And the big seas galloping out of the West,
And the packet rolling her lee-rail under
And shipping it green with a noise like thunder,
And the galley's swamped, and the half-deck's drowned,
And the pots and the kettles are swimming around,
And she's romping through it with all she'll stand &mdash
Oh, everything in the garden's grand!
He'll walk the poop, and he'll whistle and sing
As happy and proud as a blooming king,
And he licks his chops, the hoary old sinner,
Like the cabin cat when there's fish for dinner,
And says, as he holds by the weather shrouds
And squints aloft at the hurrying clouds:
'Mister, I reckon it's time, about,
We shook them reefs in her topsails out!'
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