Cicely Fox Smith

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

The Stately Blackwaller - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith

She hauled through the dock-gates when morning was young
And chill on the water the river mist hung,
And the chaps on the pierhead all shouted 'Hooray'
For the stately Blackwaller bound Eastward away.

Her captain he walked on his poop like a lord,
They piped the side handsome when he came aboard:
She had mates half-a-dozen in brassbound array,
The stately Blackwaller bound Eastward away.

She had midshipmen, topmen and gunners and all,
And forty prime shellbacks to heave and to haul,
A bosun to pipe and a fiddler to play,
The stately Blackwaller bound Eastward away.

So down London River she vanished afar:
Her gallant red ensign it shone like a star,
Till she faded from sight in the river mist grey,
The stately Blackwaller bound Eastward away.

She dropped the tug's hawser and so did depart
By Dungeness and Dover, by Spithead and Start,
And headland by headland their farewells did say
To the stately Blackwaller bound Eastward away.

Then shaking her reefs out she turned to the south,
Her canvas all gleaming, a bone in her mouth,
To the warm tropic seas where the flying fish play -
The stately Blackwaller bound Eastward away.

But the years have gone by like a tale that is told,
And home through those waters that knew her of old,
By Goodwin and Girdler, by Chapman and Nore,
The stately Blackwaller comes sailing no more.

Down the river of years she has vanished afar,
With all her proud fabric of sail and of spar,
She has faded from sight as a mist in the sun -
The stately Blackwaller of days that are done.


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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, August 31, 2010



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