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Seafarer



'Bright plates and pannikins
To sail the seas around,
And a new donkey's breakfast
For the outward bound!'

Shanghaied in San Francisco
We brought up in Bombay
Where they put us afloat in an old Leith boat
That steered like a stack of hay.

We've sweltered in the Tropics
When the pitch boiled through the deck-
And saved our hides and little besides
In an ice-cold North Sea wreck.

We've drunk our rum in Portland
And we've thrashed through Bering Strait-
And we've toed the mark on a Yankee barque
With a hard-case Down-east mate.

We know the streets of Santos
And the loom of the lone Azores-
We've eat our grub from a salt-horse tub
Condemned from the Navy stores.

We know the quay of Glasgow
And the river at Saigon-
We've drunk our glass with a Chinese lass
In a house-boat at Canton.

We know the road to Auckland
And the light on Sydney Head-
And we've crept close-hauled when the leadsman called
The depth of the Channel bed.

They pay us off in London
And it's 'O for a spell ashore!'
But again we ship for the Southern trip
In a week or hardly more

For- it's 'Goodbye Sally and Sue'
And- 'It's time to get afloat-'
With an aching head and a straw-stuffed bed,
And a knife and an oil-skin coat.

Sing- 'Time to leave her, Johnny!'
Sing- 'Bound for the Rio Grande!'
When the tug turns back you follow her track
For a last, long look at land.

Then the purple disappears-
And only the blue is seen-
That will take our bones to Davy Jones
And our souls to Fiddler's Green.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:27 min read
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