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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

(1882-1954)

 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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