Notes

Original poem
by C. Fox Smith

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The Traveller

Poem by C. Fox Smith
From SAILOR TOWN: SEA SONGS AND BALLADS, edited by Cicely Fox Smith,
published by George H. Doran Co., New York, US, 1919, pp. 120-122
Adapted and musically arranged by Charlie Ipcar, 3/23/08

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Chorus:
Well, I ain't got folks an' I ain't got money, ain't got nothing at all,
Just a queer old thirst that keeps me movin', movin' on till I fall.

Now I've loops o' string in-stead o' buttons, I've mostly holes for a shirt;
My boots are bust an' my hat's a goner, I'm gritty with dust an' dirt;
But I'm sittin' here on this wharf a-watchin' the China ships go forth,
An' the little black tugs come a-glidin' with timber booms from the North;
Sittin' and seein' the broad Pacific break at my feet in foam
Me that was born with a taste for travel, miles an' miles from home.

(Chorus)

Now they sent me away when I was a nipper to the Board School in the slums,
An' some of them kids was good at spellin', some at figurin' sums;
But whether I went or whether I didn't, they learned me nothing at all,
For I'd be watchin' the flies a-walkin' all over the maps on the wall;
Strollin' over the lakes an' mountains, over the plains an' seas,
As if they was born with a taste for travel just the same as me!

(Chorus)

If I'd been born a rich man's son with lots o' money to burn,
It wouldn't ha' gone for marble mansions an' oriental urns;
I'd be sailin' in rakish yachts or rolling in plush Pullman cars,
I've seen 'em yachts a-lyin' at anchor, night-time under the stars;
I'd ha' paid my fare where I've beat my way (but I wouldn't ha' liked it more!),
Me that was born with a taste for travel the same if you're rich or poor.

(Chorus)

Now I've beat the ties an' rode the bumpers from sea to shinin' sea,
An' I've work'd like a Turk down in the stokehold, dined off duff an' tea;
An' many's the time I've been short o' shelter, an' many's the time o' grub,
But I got away from the rows o' houses, the streets, an' the corner pub;
So here by the side of a sea that's shinin' under a sky like flame
Me that was born with a taste for travel, need no other claim.

(Chorus)

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The Traveller

Original poem by Cicely Fox Smith,
From SAILOR TOWN: SEA SONGS AND BALLADS, edited by Cicely Fox Smith,
published by George H. Doran Co., New York, US, 1919, pp. 120-122.
First appeared in SONGS IN SAIL, published by Elkin Mathews, 1914.

I've loops o' string in the place o' buttons, I've mostly holes for a shirt;
My boots are bust and my hat's a goner, I'm gritty with dust an' dirt;
An' I'm sitting here on a bollard watching the China ships go forth,
Seeing the black little tugs come sliding with timber booms from the North.
Sitting and seeing the broad Pacific break at my feet in foam.
Me that was born with a taste for travel in a back alley at home.

They put me to school when I was a nipper at the Board School down in the slums,
And some of the kids was good at spelling and some at figures and sums;
And whether I went or whether I didn't they learned me nothing at all,
Only I'd watch the flies go walking over the maps on the wall,
Strolling over the lakes an' mountains, over the plains an' sea,
As if they was born with a taste for travel something the same as me!

If I'd been born a rich man's youngster with lots o' money to burn,
It wouldn't ha' gone in marble mansions and statues at every turn,
It wouldn't ha' gone in wine and women, or dogs an' horses an' play,
Nor yet in collecting bricks and bracks in a harmless kind of a way;
I'd ha' paid my fare where I've beat my way (but I couldn't ha' liked it more!),
Me that was born with a taste for travel the same if you're rich or poor.

I'd ha' gone bowling in yachts and rolling in plush padded Pullman cars,
The same as I've seen 'em when I lay resting at night-time under the stars,
Me that have beat the ties and rode the bumpers from sea to sea,
Me that have sweated in stokeholds and dined off mouldy salt-horse and tea;
Me that have melted like grease at Perim and froze like boards off the Horn,
All along of a taste for travel that was in me when I was born.

I ain't got folks and I ain't got money, I ain't got nothing at all,
But a sort of a queer old thirst that keeps me moving on till I fall,
And many a time I've been short o' shelter and many a time o' grub,
But I've got away from the rows o' houses, the streets, an' the corner pub
And here by the side of a sea that's shining under a sky like flame,
Me that was born with a taste for travel, give thanks because o' the same.

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Notes:

The poet describes this "traveller" in more detail in Sailor-Town Days, 1923, p. 170:

"The Pacific coast is a great place for rolling stones of every sort and description. I remember meeting what I should say was the very perfection of the type. He was sitting on the edge of the Outer Wharf it was in Victoria (BC) on a sort of coaming that runs along the edge, very comfortable to sit on, though given to exuding tar in very hot weather. His coat I don't think there was a shirt underneath was fastened together with string, being innocent of buttons. His knee showed through his trousers. His boots were ruins. But he spoke with the unmistakable accents of cultivation."