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July 2nd, 2018

One last time upon the waves for Sea Poetry Monday:


Third Mate, John Masefield

All the sheets are clacking, all the blocks are whining,
The sails are frozen stiff and the wetted decks are shining;
The reef's in the topsails, and it's coming on to blow,
And I think of the dear girl I left long ago.

Grey were her eyes, and her hair was long and bonny,
Golden was her hair, like the wild bees' honey.
And I was but a dog, and a mad one to despise,
The gold of her hair and the grey of her eyes.

There's the sea before me, and my home's behind me,
And beyond there the strange lands where nobody will mind me,
No one but the girls with the paint upon their cheeks,
Who sell away their beauty to whomsoever seeks.

There'll be drink and women there, and songs and laughter,
Peace from what is past and from all that follows after;
And a fellow will forget how a woman lies awake,
Lonely in the night watch crying for his sake.

Black it blows and bad and it howls like slaughter,
And the ship she shudders as she takes the water.
Hissing flies the spindrift like a wind-blown smoke,
And I think of a woman and a heart I broke.


Oddly, Masefield included this in his 1906 anthology A Sailor's Garland under the title "A Young Man's Fancy" and credited to "R. E. McGowan"; he eventually retitled it and claimed it as his own in his 1910 collection Poems and Ballads. Like many of his early lyrics, it's been set to music -- here's one one recording.

The distinction made in the last line is interesting, to say the least.

---L.

Subject quote from Youth and Age, Samuel Coleridge.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/685641.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.

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