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Lyr Add: 'Chanties,' by James H. Knight-Adkin

GUEST,Lighter 26 Jan 13 - 07:57 PM
GUEST,Lighter 27 Jan 13 - 12:53 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: 'Chanties,' by James H. Knight-Adkin
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 26 Jan 13 - 07:57 PM

This poem seems never to have been reprinted after it appeared in the London "Spectator" (July 29, 1905), p. 152. Some of you may enjoy it.

The author, James H. Knight-Adkin (?1878-?1955), contributed several poems to the "Spectator" between 1905 and 1921. He served in the British Army during World War I and wrote two or three powerful poems about that experience.

It's interesting to see that as late as 1905 a major British periodical thought it necessary to define "Chanty." I don't know whether Knight-Adkin had ever been to sea.

            (To J. P. D.)

North and South and home again,
Round the world and all,
From Barry Dock to Callao,
From Limehouse to Bengal,
Where'er the old "Red Duster" flies,
Where'er a ship can swing.
Where'er an English hand's at work
You'll hear their chorus ring.

Oh! it's "'Frisco Town" for anchor up,
"Rio" for mains'l haul,
As soldiers know their bugle notes
We knew them one and all,
"Leave her, Johnny, as we go,"
"Missouri," or "Black Ball."
Take your time from the chantyman!
                        Altogether! Haul!


They cheered us beating off the Horn,
Close-reefed for stress of sea.
Or racing on the homeward slant,
The trade-wind following free.
And when the sea-fog walled us in
With naught but smell to guide,
Their chorus echoed back again
From icebergs over-side.
Oh! it's "Stormalong" and "Ranzo, boys,"
"Paddy Doyle" and all,
(Gypsies of the deep-sea trade
Hearken to the call!)
One man's song is ten men's work,
At winch or sheet or fall,
Take your time from the chantyman!
                        Altogether! Haul!

Their music's falling silent now;
We'll never hear again
The white-winged Swansea copper-boats
Ring to the old refrain.
The sea's a-chock with steam and speed
From Melbourne to the Bay,
And sailor men and sailor songs
Are out of date to-day.

Oh! 'twas "Whisky, boys," and "Blow him down,"
And "Haul the bow-line, haul!"
Rough and harsh and raw with brine,
But, oh, how clear the call!
"The world is fair, the seas are wide,
And England's all too small."
Take your time from the chantyman!
                        Altogether! Haul!

AUTHOR'S NOTE: A chanty is a doggerel metre 'chanted' (whence the name) by sailors to give unison to a pull upon rope. The 'chantyman' was an important personage in the fo'castle of an old-time 'wind-jammer.'

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: 'Chanties,' by James H. Knight-Adkin
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 27 Jan 13 - 12:53 PM

It appears that Knight-Adkin's correct dates are 1878-1948.

His younger brother was the Very Rev. Walter K. Knight-Adkin, CB, OBE, a chaplain in the Royal Navy from 1910-1933.

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