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Lyr Add: The Ship-Keeper (C. Fox Smith)


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Charley Noble 01 Feb 07 - 10:17 AM
The Sandman 01 Feb 07 - 02:18 PM
Charley Noble 01 Feb 07 - 04:02 PM
Charley Noble 03 Feb 07 - 10:39 AM
bradfordian 22 Jun 15 - 06:54 PM
Rumncoke 23 Jun 15 - 06:13 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: The Ship-Keeper (C. Fox Smith)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Feb 07 - 10:17 AM

(Poem by Cicely Fox Smith)

When dusk comes round again
And red goes down the sun,
And all the stevedore's men
Have finished up and gone;
When silent all and dark
The tugs and lighters lie,
And derricks stand up stark
And still against the sky;
When solemn, slow as doom,
The dock policeman's tread
Wakes echoes in the gloom
Of each deserted shed —

Old Mike, his nightly tale
Of tasks at length complete,
Limps slowly to the rail
On lame rheumatic feet,
Lights his black clay, and leans
And thinks, as old men do,
Of bygone things and scenes
His lusty manhood knew;
Until, when stars begin
To gleam by two and three,
He sees the ships come in
That no one else can see —

The ships that wait no tide,
The ships that take no steam,
But to their moorings glide
As quiet as a dream;
The ships he served of old,
When blood was young and hot,
Long wrecked or scraped or sold,
Their very names forgot;
The ships that raced the wool,
The grain, the jute, the tea,
Titania beautiful,
And proud Thermopylae;
The "Lochs," the Irish "Stars,"
Old fleets of far reknown,
Green's, Wigram's, Some's, Dunbar's,
The pride of London town.

Cold Alps of shining snow,
He knows them one and all,
The fast ships and the slow,
The big ships and the small.
Knows too each glimmering queen
Or craven king they bore,
Each dragon gold and green,
Armed knight or turbaned Moor.
Lost shipmates of old years
Along their bulwarks throng;
Old speech of theirs he hears,
Old yarns, old scraps of song.

The last rose leaves the skies;
The river breeze blows chill;
But still with age-dimmed eyes
He dreams, as old men will,
His pipe between his lips;
Still, dreaming, seems to see
The lost and lovely ships
That no one sees but he.


From SAILOR'S DELIGHT, edited by Cicely Fox Smith, published by Methuen & Co., London, UK, © 1931, pp. 74-77.

The shipkeeper was typically an old retired sailor that would act as watchman on a ship in port in between cargoes. The shipkeepers along Victoria's waterfront, in the early 1900's, were C. Fox Smith's chief source of yarns for her poetry and short stories that were focused on the Canadian Pacific Northwest.

Gordon Morris (UK) has adapted this poem for singing as recorded on FULL SAIL, © 2002.

I'd like to dedicate this song to an old Mudcat friend Joe Theriault ("Jets") who has slipped his cable.

Charley Noble

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Ship-Keeper (C. Fox Smith)
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Feb 07 - 02:18 PM grandfather sailed on the thermopylae.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Ship-Keeper (C. Fox Smith)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Feb 07 - 04:02 PM

Captain Birdseye-

You're more than welcome!

Gordon Morris and his partner Peter Massey (Marrowbones) are based in Chester, just south of Liverpool. I'm sure they'd be delighted to swap CD's with you, as they have with me. I also like their setting for "Admiral Dugout," C. Fox Smith's tribute to an old retired admiral who lobbies hard to be remobilized in World War 1 and is delighted to be appointed captain of an armed trawler.

Charley Noble

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Ship-Keeper (C. Fox Smith)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 03 Feb 07 - 10:39 AM

This song seems worth refreshing one more time before it sinks to oblivion.

What I like about C. Fox Smith's nautical poetry is the wealth of detail, combined with the sentiment. You really get a window to another long gone world. Too often the contemporary sea songs like this one are just sentiment, and one is hungry 30 minutes later!

Charley Noble

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Ship-Keeper (C. Fox Smith)
From: bradfordian
Date: 22 Jun 15 - 06:54 PM

The Ship Keeper (CFS) sung by Trim Rig and a Doxy (YouTube)

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Ship-Keeper (C. Fox Smith)
From: Rumncoke
Date: 23 Jun 15 - 06:13 AM

Verse four - surely that is graven (carved) king, not craven (cowardly)

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