The Day of Little ShipsPoem by Cicely Fox Smith
Adapted and musically arranged by Charlie Ipcar © 5/1/14
Tune: inspired by traditional On My Journey Home/Nonesuch
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After the shades of war have fled,
Then we'll recall their crews as well
So home they came from that coast of death,
"The Evacuation at Dunkirk," from THE ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS, June 8, 1940, pp. 766-767.
Long after the shadow of war is fled
And the last battle is fought
Men will remember the Little Ships
And the great things they wrought.
We shall tell over with laughter and tears
The homely names they bore –
They, not meant for the baptism of fire
And the grim uses of war.
Paddler, dinghy and sailing barge
Eagle and Queen and Belle,
And the humble Marthas of the ports
That have no name to tell.
Let us remember them and their men
Who asked not fee nor fame,
But all they knew was a job to do,
And they spat on their palms and they came.
They dared the hell of the shell-swept dunes,
The hell of the bomb-torn tide,
They cared not a damn if they sank or swam,
Nor yet if they lived or died.
Home they came from that coast of death,
Each with her tale of men,
Stayed but to set them ashore – and so
Back to hell's mouth again. . . .
Therefore, while England's cliffs shall stand,
And the Channel tides do roll,
Let us remember the Little Ships –
How on the Day of the Little Ships
They saved an army whole.