Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sea Dream-by Cicely Fox Smith

Why did I dream last night, I wonder, about the ship Ledore
I made a passage in from China — was it 'eighty-three or four —
And left in the East India Basin, and after saw no more?

I thought we were off the Pescadores, waiting a breeze from the land;
There were some fishing junks becalmed there, and nets spread out on the sand;
The sun had left the sky one glory, the sea was flat as your hand.

It was just like looking at a picture, I saw it all so clear;
Little things I'd long since forgotten about her rig and her gear,
And shipmates' faces I hadn't thought of for many and many a year.

I could see them all as plain as daylight — and then some fellow spoke,
"Here comes the wind," he said, "by thunder!" — the sea all round us broke
Into a hundred thousand wrinkles, and on the word I woke.

There was nothing out of the way about her so far as I recall;
She wasn't out of common handsome or fast or smart or tall;
There was no one in the crowd to remember — they were chaps like most, that's all.

We'd nothing much in the way of weather out of the usual kind;
The times we had they were like most times, goods uns and bad combined,
And nothing ever happened on board her to make her stick in your mind.

Just the same old round of sailorizing that us old shellbacks know,
The old hauling of sheets and braces in the Doldrums to and fro,
The old jobs aloft in the Tropics when the good trade-winds blow.

Reefing and furling, wheel and lookout, shifting and bending sail,
Tallying on to the topsail halyards, snugging down in a gale,
And an old song in the dog-watches and an old seaman's tale.

I went with never a look behind me, and glad to leave her too,
When we made her fast in the dock basin and the mate said, "That'll do!"
And it's rum I should have dreamed about her, of all the ships I knew!
From SAILOR'S DELIGHT, edited by Cicely Fox Smith, published by Methuen & Co., London, UK, © 1931, pp. 70-73.

Here we have the old sailor musing over why he dreamed so vividly about a particular ship and crew he sailed on when there was nothing remarkable about her, his crewmates, or the voyage.

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