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Lyr Add: Admiral Dugout (C. Fox Smith)


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Charley Noble 10 Feb 07 - 01:41 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 10 Feb 07 - 01:47 PM
Charley Noble 10 Feb 07 - 01:59 PM
Charley Noble 10 Feb 07 - 02:03 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: ADMIRAL DUGOUT (C. Fox Smith)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 10 Feb 07 - 01:41 PM

(Words by Cicely Fox Smith, 1917)

He had done with fleets and squadrons, with the restless, roaming seas,
He had found the quiet haven he desired,
And he lay there to his moorings with the dignity and ease
Most becoming to Rear-Admirals (retired).
He was reared 'mid "Spit and Polish," he was bred to "stick and string" —
All the things the ultra-moderns never name:
But a wind blew up to seaward, and it meant the Real Thing,
And he had to slip his cable when it came.

So he hied him up to London, for to hang about Whitehall,
And he sat upon the steps there soon and late:
He importuned night and morning, he bombarded great and small,
From messengers to Ministers of State.
He was like a guilty conscience, he was like a ghost unlaid,
He was like a debt of which you can't get rid,
Till the Powers that Be, despairing, in a fit of temper said,
"For the Lord's sake give him something" — and they did!

They commissioned him a trawler with a high and raking bow,
Black and workmanlike as any pirate craft,
With a crew of steady seamen very handy in a row,
And a brace of little barkers fore and aft.
And he blessed the Lord his Maker when he faced the North Sea sprays,
And exceedingly extolled his lucky star,
That had given his youth renewal in the evening of his days
(With the rank of Captain Dugout, R.N.R.).

He is jolly as a sandboy, he is happier than a king,
And his trawler is the darling of his heart,
(With her cuddy like a cupboard where a kitten couldn't swing,
And a scent of fish that simply won't depart).
He has found upon occasion sundry targets for his guns,
He could tell you tales of mine and submarine,
Oh the holes he's in and out of, and the glorious risks he runs
Turn his son (who's in a Super-Dreadnought) green.

He is fit as any fiddle, he is hearty, hale and tanned;
He is proof against the coldest gales that blow.
He has never felt so lively since he got his first command,
(Which is rather more than forty years ago).
And of all the joyful picnics of his wild and wandering youth,
Little dust-ups 'tween Taku and Zanzibar,
There was none to match the picnic, he declares in sober sooth,
That he has as Captain Dugout, R.N.R.


From SEA SONGS AND BALLADS 1917-22, edited by Cicely Fox Smith, published by Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, US, © 1924, p. 125-127. First appeared in the magazine PUNCH, Volume 152, April 4, 1917. Also printed in SMALL CRAFT, © 1917.

Here we have tribute to an old retired admiral, who during World War 1 has successfully persuaded the Admiralty to let him do his part in the war, even if it's to be the captain of a modest armed trawler.

Gordon Morris (UK) has adapted this poem for singing, and has recorded it with his partner Peter Massey on FULL SAIL: Inside the Lid, © 2002.

"Dugout" is evidently old Royal Navy slang for a retired officer.

"With her cuddy like a cupboard where a kitten couldn't swing" may be a reference to the old man-of-war sailor's saying: "Not enough room to swing a cat," a cat-of-nine-tails whip that was used for flogging miscreant sailors.

Charley Noble

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Admiral Dugout (C. Fox Smith)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 10 Feb 07 - 01:47 PM

Good stuff in "Sea Songs and Ballads." Just read "Let Her Go! a Tramp Shanty."

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Admiral Dugout (C. Fox Smith)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 10 Feb 07 - 01:59 PM


Very true! I find much of her nautical poetry addictive, and like other musicians, easy to adapt for singing.

Here's a link to the Oldpoetry website where I and Jim Saville have posted over 500 of her poems: Click here for website!

However, one word of caution, her early poetry books, published before she resided in British Columbia, are filled with very patriotic and jingoistic poems, characteristic of a young woman who spent too much time in libraries and museums. There are occasional precusors of poems to come, and which I find of interest.

Charley Noble

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Admiral Dugout (C. Fox Smith)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 10 Feb 07 - 02:03 PM


And I should have mentioned that "Let Her Go! a Tramp Shanty" was adapted for singing in 1995 by Alan Fitzsimmons, as recorded on SEABOOT DUFF & HANDSPIKE GRUEL by Pinch o' Salt in 2000.

Charley Noble

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