Cicely Fox Smith

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

The Tow-Rope Girls - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith

Oh, a ship in the Tropics, a-foaming along,
With every stitch drawing, the Trade blowing strong,
The white caps around her all breaking in spray,
For the girls have got hold of her tow-rope today.

An' it’s 'Haul away, girls, steady an' true,
Polly an' Dolly an' Sally and Sue, -
Mothers an' sisters an' sweethearts an' all,
Haul away . . . all the way . . . haul away, haul!'

She’s logging sixteen as she speeds from the South,
The wind in her royals, a bone in her mouth,
With a wake like a mill-race she rolls on her way,
For the girls have got hold of her tow-rope to-day.

The Old Man he stood on the poop at high noon;
He paced fore and aft and he whistled a tune,
Then put by his sextant and thus he did say:
'The girls have got hold of her tow-rope to-day.'

'Of cargoes and charters we’ve had our full share,
Of grain and of lumber enough and to spare.
Of nitrates at Taltal and rice for Bombay,
And the girls have got hold of our tow-rope to-day.'

'She has dipped her yards under, hove to off the Horn,
In the fog and the floes she has drifted forlorn,
Becalmed in the Doldrums a week long she lay,
But the girls have got hold of her tow-rope to-day.'

Oh, hear the good Trade wind a-singing aloud,
A homeward bound shanty in sheet and in shroud,
Oh, hear how he whistles in the halliard and stay,
“The girls have got hold of the tow-rope to-day!”

And it’s oh! for the chops of the Channel at last,
The cheer that goes up when the tug hawser’s passed -
The mate’s “That’ll do” - and a fourteen months’ pay -
For the girls have got hold of our tow-rope to-day . . .

'Then haul away, girls, steady an' true,
Polly an' Dolly an' Sally and Sue,
Mothers an' sisters an' sweethearts an' all,
Haul away - all the way - haul away - haul!'


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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, August 31, 2010



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