by Cicely Fox Smith
Sailor TownOriginal poem by Cicely Fox Smith, © 1914
from SAILOR TOWN: Sea Songs And Ballads, edited by Cicely Fox Smith,
published by George H. Doran Co., New York, US, © 1919, pp. 11-12.
Further adapted by Charlie Ipcar © 2006
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Along the wharves of Sailor Town a singing whisper goes,
From the wind among the anchored ships, the wind that gently blows,
Cross the broad rippling waters where the summer day has died,
As the sun sinks down to China in a crimson tide.
And I dreamed a dream in Sailor Town, a foolish dream and vain,
Of ships and men departed, of old times come again,
And an old song in Sailor Town, an old song to sing,
When shipmate meets with shipmate in the long evening.
There's a big China liner, lovely like a gull,
With her lit ports a-flashing, all along her hull,
And a Blue-Funnel freighter, her derricks stark and still,
And a tall barque a-loading, down at the lumber mill.
And in the shops of Sailor Town there's every kind of thing
That the sailors buy, or the sailors bring;
Shackles for a sea-chest, pink cockatoos –
Fifty-cent alarm clocks, sea-boots and dead men's shoes.
You could hear the gulls a-crying, crying all day long,
And a concertina piping some old deep-sea song,
And the wind's song and the tide's song, crooning soft and low –
The rum old songs of Sailor Town, so many years ago.
Along the wharves in sailor town a singing whisper goes
Of the wind among the anchored ships, the wind that blows
Off a broad brimming water, where the summer day has died
Like a wounded whale a-sounding in the sunset tide.
There's a big China liner gleaming like a gull,
And her lit ports flashing; there's the long gaunt hull
Of a Blue-Funnel freighter with her derricks dark and still;
And a tall barque loading at the lumber mill.
And in the shops of sailor town is every kind of thing
That the sailormen buy there, or the ships' crews bring:
Shackles for a sea-chest and pink cockatoos,
Fifty-cent alarum clocks and dead men's shoes.
You can hear the gulls crying, and the cheerful noise
Of a concertina going, and a singer's voice –
And the wind's song and the tide's song, crooning soft and low
Rum old tunes in sailor town that seamen know.
I dreamed a dream in sailor town, a foolish dream and vain,
Of ships and men departed, of old days come again –
And an old song in sailor town, an old song to sing
When shipmate meets with shipmate in the evening.