Original poem
by William McFee

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High Tide at 4 A.M.

Poem by William McFee, 1909,
From Reflections of Marsyas, by William McFee, 1933, p. 63
Adapted for singing by Charlie Ipcar, 11/7/2009
Tune: Make and Break Harbour by Stan Rogers

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They've tipped and they've shovelled, they've trimmed and they've stowed,
And she's down to her load-line as ever;
The bridge has swung round and she's outward bound,
And she's off to the dark o' the river.
Farewell to the grime and the dust of the tips,
It may be a month or forever:
She's watched by the ships and the ghosts on the slips
As she ploughs through the dark o' the river.

Farewell to the grime and the dust of the tips,
It may be a month or forever:
She's watched by the ships and the ghosts on the slips
As she ploughs through the dark o' the river.

She's one with the Mill and the Mine and the Mart;
Black coal is her cargo as ever:
But sneer as you will, she bears my heart still
'Way down in the dark o' the river;
So I pray to the Lord from my berth here a-shore
A fair weather passage please give her,
For there's shipmates aboard I may see no more
Till we've passed through the Dark o' the River!

So I pray to the Lord from my berth here a-shore
A fair weather passage please give her,
For there's shipmates aboard I may see no more
Till we've passed through the Dark o' the River!


An illustration by Charles Wilson from SHIPS, by Charles Wilson,
published by Barre Publishers, Barre, Massachusetts, US, 1971, p. 95

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High Tide at 4 A.M.

Original poem by William McFee, 1909,
From Reflections of Marsyas, by William McFee, 1933, p. 63;
first published in The New York Evening Post.

They've tipped and they've shovelled, they've trimmed and they've stored,
And she's down to her load-line as ever;
The bridge is swung round and the pilot's aboard
And she's off to the dark o' the river.

Farewell to the grime and the dust of the tips,
It may be a month or for ever:
She's watched by the skeleton ghosts on the slips
As she ploughs through the dark o' the river.

She is one with the Mill and the Mine and the Mart;
Black coal is her cargo as ever:
You may sneer as you will, but she carries my heart
'Way down in the dark o' the river.

So I pray to the Lord in my bed here ashore
A fair weather passage to give her,
For there's shipmates aboard I may never see more
Till we've passed through the Dark o' the River!

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