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Sailortown in Focus

This website is dedicated to the Sailortown district of Belfast and the people who once lived there

SAILOR TOWN by Cicely Fox Smith


 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.


 Notes 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. An earlier edition of this book was published by Elkin Mathews, © 1914.

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