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The Flying-Fish Sailor

Cicely Fox Smith 1882 (Lymm, Cheshire) – 1954 (Bow, Devon)



'The Western Ocean rolls and roars
From Sandy Hook to Europe's shores,
From Fastnet Light to Portland, Maine,
And Newport News and back again,
With Boston, Salem, Montreal,
And plenty o' ports both large and small,
And them that like may keep 'em all,
Not me,' says the flying-fish sailor.

The Western Ocean roars and rolls
With all its deeps and all its shoals
And many a thundering wintry gale,
And many a storm of rain and hail,
And let who likes have sleet and snow,
And driving fog and drifting floe,
For South away and Eastward Ho!
Is the road for the flying-fish sailor.

In Blackwall Dock she is moored,
Her hatches on and her stores aboard,
In Blackwall Dock she lies to-day,
And she will sail when the morning's grey
For Sunda Strait and Singapore,
And Palembang and plenty more,
And many a swarming Eastern shore
That's known to the flying-fish sailor.

The girls they'll cry and the lads'll shout
When the blooming tugboat warps her out:
We'll drop the pilot off the Nore
With fond farewells to take ashore
To mothers, wives and sweethearts too -
Love to Sally and love to Sue -
And that's the last for a year or two
You'll see of the flying-fish sailor.

We'll drop the tug and we'll bear away
Down the Channel, across the Bay;
The Western Isles we'll leave behind
And make the Line with the good Trade wind:
We'll see the dolphins sport and play,
(And haul our yards ten times a day),
While South'ard still we beat our way,
The way of the flying-fish sailor.

And forty south when we have passed,
Her easting down she runs at last,
Where the white whale swims in the far South Sea,
And the brave West winds blow full and free:
The good old winds they bluster and blow
The same as they used to years ago,
And the good old stars that well we know
Look down on the flying-fish sailor.

The darned old hooker 'll log sixteen,
She'll ship it heavy and ship it green,
She'll roll along with her lee-rail under,
While the big seas break aboard like thunder:
The pots and pans they'll carry away,
And the cook go down on his knees and pray,
But let the seas roar as they may,
All's one to the flying-fish sailor.

At Sydney next a call we'll pay,
And meet a pal on Circular Quay;
We'll glance at Java Head also,
And Fuji's crest of frozen snow,
And slant-eyed girls in far Japan,
Wun Lee, Wang Ho and little Yo San,
With braided hair and twinkling fan,
Will smile on a flying-fish sailor.

And last of all the day'll come round
When the blooming mudhook leaves the ground,
And to old England we return,
Our pockets filled with pay to burn,
With a painted fan and an ivory comb
From foreign towns beyond the foam,
And a golden ring for the girl at home
That waits for the flying-fish sailor.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:37 min read
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Cicely Fox Smith

Cicely Fox Smith (1 February 1882 – 8 April 1954) was an English poet and writer. Born in Lymm, Cheshire and educated at Manchester High School for Girls, she briefly lived in Canada, before returning to the United Kingdom shortly before the outbreak of World War I. She settled in Hampshire and began writing poetry, often with a nautical theme. Smith wrote over 600 poems in her life, for a wide range of publications. In later life, she expanded her writing to a number of subjects, fiction and non-fiction. For her services to literature, the British Government awarded her a small pension. more…

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