Original poem
Burt Franklin Jenness

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The Sea Dog

Poem by Burt Franklin Jenness
From SEA LANES, edited by Burt Franklin Jenness,
The Cornhill Publishing Co., Boston, US, 1921, pp. 16-17

Adapted for singing by Bob Zentz as recorded on BOB ZENTZ: It's About Time, 1992

Further adapted by Charlie Ipcar 2/26/07

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Now I wandered up an' down the pier to-day
Yesterday as many days before,
In an' out aboard the ships I stray,
Walked their weathered decks till my feet were sore;
The shipping folk are often strange, I fear,
Yet sometimes an old familiar face
Will greet me from the decks or from a pier,
An' then I know I'm in a friendly place.

illustration by Phil W. Smith of a typical ship-keeper
illustration by Phil W. Smith
of a typical ship-keeper
Yes, I like to watch them freighters come an' go;
The lazy tramps go steaming down the bay,
The loaded schooners straining at the tow,
An' shaking out their canvas on the way;
I'm happy when the cargo's from the East,
For it fills the air with the scent of spice an' fruit;
The wealth of tree an' jungle, bird an' beast,
On ships may tell the story of their route.

An' I dream of ev'ry port they've touched or passed;
I can feel the tropic breezes blow once more;
I can tell just where they've reef'd to face the blast,
Or glided by the lights along the shore;
An' I'd like to think that I'm a part of it,
This great big open business called the sea,
That there's a place in life for which I'm fit,
An' somewhere there's a ship that's needin' me.

So I wander up an' down the pier;
I meet with sweating stevedores at noon;
Sometimes they might share their grub or beer,
As we talk ol' times outside the dock saloon;
Sometimes I'll board a tramp that's loadin' freight,
Ah, the biggest an' the best that I can find;
An' I'll tell my sailor story to the mate,
Sometimes, but not too often, he'll be kind.

Or I might just meet some pal I used to know,
An' he'll offer his tobaccy an' his hand;
Then we'll shake again, an' off he'll go
Muttering low about them lucky dogs on land;
But I don't mind the jeerin' or their chaff,
Their laughin' at the stories that I've told;
There's a harder blow that strikes me like a gaff,
For when I try to ship they say: "Too old!"

But I'd like to think that I'm a part of it,
This great big open business called the sea,
That there's a place in life for which I'm fit,
An' somewhere there's a ship that's needin' me.

An' somewhere, there's a ship that's needin' me.

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THE SEA DOG

Poem by Burt Franklin Jenness
From SEA LANES, edited by Burt Franklin Jenness,
The Cornhill Publishing Co., Boston, US, 1921, pp. 16-17

I wandered up and down the quay to-day,
And yesterday, and many days before,
In and out, aboard the ships I've found my way,
And tramped their sun-baked decks till I'm foot sore;
The shipping folk are mostly strange and queer,
And yet, sometimes an old familiar face
Will greet me from the decks or on the pier,
An' then I know I'm in a friendly place.

I like to watch the freighters come an' go;
The lazy tramps go easing down the bay;
The laden schooners straining at their tow,
And shaking out their canvas on the way;
I'm happy when the cargoes from the East
Fill the air with the scent of spices and of fruit
For the wealth of tree and jungle, bird an' beast,
On the ships may tell the story of their route.

I dream of every port they touched or passed;
I can feel the tropic breezes blow once more;
I can tell just where they've reefed or stepped a mast,
Or coasted by the lights along the shore;
I like to feel that I'm a part of it,
This great big open business of the sea,
That there's a place in life for which I'm fit;
That somewhere there's a ship that's needing me.

And so I wander up and down the pier,
And squat with sweating stevedores at noon;
Sometimes they'll share with me their grub and beer,
And talk old times outside the dock saloon;
Sometimes I'll board a tramp that's loading freight,
Ah, the biggest and the best that I can find,
And I'll tell a sailor story to the mate
And sometimes, but not often, he'll be kind.

Then again I'll meet a mate I used to know,
And he'll offer his tobaccy, and his hand;
And then he'll shake again, and off he'll go
Talking low about the lucky dog on land;
But I don't mind their curses and their chaff,
Their sneering at the stories I have told
There's a harder blow that strikes me like a gaff,
For when I try to ship they say: "Too old!"

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