Sing a Song o' Shipwreck (1902)
by John Masefield
He lolled on a bollard, a sun-burned son of the sea,
With ear-rings of brass and a jumper of dungaree,
"'N' many a queer lash-up have I seen," says he.
"But the toughest hooray o'the racket," he says, "I'll be sworn,
'N' the roughest traverse I worked since the day I was born,
Was a packet o' Sailor's Delight as I scoffed in the seas o' the
"All day long in the calm she had rolled to the swell,
Rolling through fifty degrees till she clattered her bell:
'N' then came snow, 'n' a squall, 'n' a wind was colder 'n hell.
"It blew like the Bull of Barney, a beast of a breeze,
'N' over the rail come the cold green lollopin' seas,
'N' she went ashore at the dawn on the Ramirez.
"She was settlin' down by the stern when I got to the deck,
Her waist was a smother o' sea as was up to your neck,
'N' her masts were gone, 'n' her rails, 'n' she was a wreck.
"We rigged up a tackle, a purchase, a sort of a shift,
To hoist the boats off o' the deck-house and get them adrift,
When her stern gives a sickenin' settle, her bows give a lift,
"'N' comes a crash of green water as sets me afloat
With freezing fingers clutching the keel of a boat --
The bottom-up whaler -- 'n' that was the juice of a note.
"Well, I clambers acrost o' the keel 'n' I gets me secured,
When I sees a face in the white o' the smother to looard,
So I gives 'im a 'and, 'n' be shot if it wasn't the stooard!
"So he climbs up forrard o' me, 'n' 'thanky,' a' says,
'N' we sits 'n' shivers 'n' freeze to the bone wi' the sprays,
'N' I sings 'Abel Brown,' 'n' the stooard he prays.
"Wi' never a dollop to sup nor a morsel to bite,
The lips of us blue with the cold 'n' the heads of us light,
Adrift in a Cape Horn sea for a day 'n' a night.
"'N' then the stooard goes dotty 'n' puts a tune to his lip,
'N' moans about Love like a dern old hen wl' the pip --
(I sets no store upon stooards -- they ain't no use on a ship).
"'N' mother, the looney cackles, 'come 'n' put Willy to bed!'
So I says 'Dry up, or I'll fetch you a crack o' the head';
'The kettle's a-bilin',' he answers, n' I'll go butter the bread.'
"'N' he falls to singin' some slush about clinkin' a can,
'N' at last he dies, so he does, 'n' I tells you, Jan,
I was glad when he did, for he weren't no fun for a man.
"So he falls forrard, he does, 'n' he closes his eye,
'N' quiet he lays 'n' quiet I leaves him lie,
'N' I was alone with his corp, 'n' the cold green sea and the sky.
"'N' then I dithers, I guess, for the next as I knew
Was the voice of a mate as was sayin' to one of the crew,
'Easy, my son, wi' the brandy, be shot if he ain't comin'-to!'"