Cicely Fox Smith

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

The Traveller - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith

I've loops o' string in the place o' buttons, I've mostly holes for a shirt;
My boots are bust and my hat's a goner, I'm gritty with dust an' dirt;
An' I'm sitting here on a bollard watching the China ships go forth,
Seeing the black little tugs come sliding with timber booms from the North.
Sitting and seeing the broad Pacific break at my feet in foam.
Me that was born with a taste for travel in a back alley at home.

They put me to school when I was a nipper at the Board School down in the slums,
And some of the kids was good at spelling and some at figures and sums;
And whether I went or whether I didn't they learned me nothing at all,
Only I'd watch the flies go walking over the maps on the wall,
Strolling over the lakes an' mountains, over the plains an' sea, -
As if they was born with a taste for travel something the same as me!

If I'd been born a rich man's youngster with lots o' money to burn,
It wouldn't ha' gone in marble mansions and statues at every turn,
It wouldn't ha' gone in wine and women, or dogs an' horses an' play,
Nor yet in collecting bricks and bracks in a harmless kind of a way;
I'd ha' paid my fare where I've beat my way (but I couldn't ha' liked it more!),
Me that was born with a taste for travel - the same if you're rich or poor.

I'd ha' gone bowling in yachts and rolling in plush padded Pullman cars, -
The same as I've seen 'em when I lay resting at night-time under the stars,
Me that have beat the ties and rode the bumpers from sea to sea,
Me that have sweated in stokeholds and dined off mouldy salt-horse and tea;
Me that have melted like grease at Perim and froze like boards off the Horn,
All along of a taste for travel that was in me when I was born.

I ain't got folks and I ain't got money, I ain't got nothing at all,
But a sort of a queer old thirst that keeps me moving on till I fall,
And many a time I've been short o' shelter and many a time o' grub,
But I've got away from the rows o' houses, the streets, an' the corner pub -
And here by the side of a sea that's shining under a sky like flame,
Me that was born with a taste for travel, give thanks because o' the same.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, August 31, 2010

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