Naval Poetry

#1
Following on from Salty's poems... do you have any nautical poems you like?

I have a book of them called "Sea Verse", here are a few I like.

THE YARN OF THE NANCY BELL

'Twas on the shores that round our coast
From Deal to Ramsgate span,
That I found alone on a piece of stone
An elderly naval man.

His hair was weedy, his beard was long,
And weedy and long was he,
And I heard this wight on the shore recite,
In a singular minor key:

"Oh, I am a cook and a captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And a bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captain's gig."

And he shook his fists and he tore his hair,
Till I really felt afraid,
For I couldn't help thinking the man had been drinking,
And so I simply said:

"O, elderly man, it's little I know
Of the duties of men of the sea,
But I'll eat my hand if I understand
How you can possibly be

"At once a cook, and a captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And a bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captain's gig."

Then he gave a hitch to his trousers, which
Is a trick all seamen larn,
And having got rid of a thumping quid,
He spun this painful yarn:

"'Twas in the good ship Nancy Bell
That we sailed to the Indian sea,
And there on a reef we come to grief,
Which has often occurred to me.

"And pretty nigh all o' the crew was drowned
(There was seventy-seven o' soul),
And only ten of the Nancy's men
Said 'Here!' to the muster-roll.

"There was me and the cook and the captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig
And the bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captain's gig.

"For a month we'd neither wittles nor drink,
Till a-hungry we did feel,
So we drawed a lot, and accordin' shot
The captain for our meal.

"The next lot fell to the Nancy's mate,
And a delicate dish he made;
Then our appetite with the midshipmite
We seven survivors stayed.

"And then we murdered the bo'sun tight,
And he much resembled pig,
Then we wittled free, did the cook and me,
On the crew of the captain's gig.

"Then only the cook and me was left,
And the delicate question, 'Which
Of us two goes to the kettle?' arose
And we argued it out as sich.

"For I loved that cook as a brother, I did,
And the cook he worshipped me;
But we'd both be blowed if we'd either be stowed
In the other chap's hold, you see.

"'I'll be eat if you dines off me,' says Tom,
'Yes, that,' says I, 'you'll be,' --
'I'm boiled if I die, my friend,' quoth I,
And 'Exactly so,' quoth he.

"Says he, 'Dear James, to murder me
Were a foolish thing to do,
For don't you see that you can't cook me,
While I can -- and will -- cook you!'

"So he boils the water, and takes the salt
And the pepper in portions true
(Which he never forgot) and some chopped shalot,
And some sage and parsley too.

"'Come here,' says he, with a proper pride,
Which his smiling features tell,
' 'Twill soothing be if I let you see,
How extremely nice you'll smell.'

"And he stirred it round and round and round,
And he sniffed at the foaming froth;
When I ups with his heels, and smothers his squeals
In the scum of the boiling broth.

"And I eat that cook in a week or less,
And -- as I eating be
The last of his chops, why, I almost drops,
For a wessel in sight I see!

"And I never grin, and I never smile,
And I never larf nor play,
But I sit and croak, and a single joke
I have -- which is to say:

"Oh, I am a cook and a captain bold,
And the mate of the Nancy brig,
And a bo'sun tight, and a midshipmite,
And the crew of the captain's gig!"
 
#2
These are shorter but a lot more serious (also got these from the book),

The full sea rolls and thunders
In glory and in glee.
O, bury me not in the senseless earth
But in the living sea!

Ay, bury me where it surges
A thousand miles from shore
And in its brotherly unrest
I'll range for evermore.

William Ernest Henley

[hr]

Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.

O well for the fisherman's boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill:
But O for the touch of a vanish'd hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break,
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson
 
#4
dunkers said:
These are shorter but a lot more serious (also got these from the book),

The full sea rolls and thunders
In glory and in glee.
O, bury me not in the senseless earth
But in the living sea!

Ay, bury me where it surges
A thousand miles from shore
And in its brotherly unrest
I'll range for evermore.

William Ernest Henley

[hr]

Great poems Dunkers, loved all three :) Bob

Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.

O well for the fisherman's boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill:
But O for the touch of a vanish'd hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break,
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson
 

slim

War Hero
#5
The boy stood on the burning deck
Selling peas a penny a peck
Then along came Montegue
Quick lads, arses to the mast
Until Montegue has past
But Montegue the crafty sod threw the boy a fritter
The boy bent down to pick it up
Whoosh six inches up his ...........

Suggestions for a suitable word to finish the ode on a postcard please
 
#6
slim said:
The boy stood on the burning deck
Selling peas a penny a peck
Then along came Montegue
Quick lads, arses to the mast
Until Montegue has past
But Montegue the crafty sod threw the boy a fritter
The boy bent down to pick it up
Whoosh six inches up his ...........

Suggestions for a suitable word to finish the ode on a postcard please
A Stoker called Montegue? :? :roll:
 
#7
slim said:
Suggestions for a suitable word to finish the ode on a postcard please
How about "shitter"

The boy stood on the burning deck
Selling peas a penny a peck
Then along came Montegue
Quick lads, arses to the mast
Until Montegue has past
But Montegue the crafty sod threw the boy a fritter
The boy bent down to pick it up
Whoosh, six inches up his shitter.
 
#8
You guys are leaving out the ultimate seafaring poem:
"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"
Not naval, but very good.

"He holds him with his glittering eye,
the wedding guest stood still,
and listens like a three-years child,
the Mariner hath his will."
 
#10
I must go down to the sea again,to the lonely sea and Sky
and all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by
and the wheels kick and the winds song and the white sails shaking
and the grey mist on the seas face and a grey dawn breaking

I must go down to the seas again,for the call of the running tide
is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied
and all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying
and the flung spray and the blown spume and the sea gulls crying

I must go down to the seas again to the vagrant gypsy life
to the gulls way and the whales way where the winds like a whetted knife
and all I ask is is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow rover
a quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trips finally over

One of Masefields poems----- not sure what the title is but it rings true
with me--the lure of the sea!!
 
#11
The preacher in the dockyard church one Sunday morning said,
"Some dirty bastard shit himself - I'll punch his ******* head."
Then up stood Jack in the third row back and he spat a greasy gob:
"I'm the one who shit his ******* self, you can chew my carroty knob!
You can chew my carroty knob!"

Then Jenny Wren got up to sing and she warbled like a thrush.
The preacher in the pulpit said, "I think you're ******* lush."
"That's right," said she, "and I've got a fee - it is thirty bob a time."
Then a bosun in the back stood up, "Stand back you dirty bastard she's mine,
Stand back you dirty bastard she's mine."

The organist came down the aisle with the organ on his back.
The preacher in the pulpit said, "You can march that bastard back."
The organist played Heart of Oak, the choir sang Auld Lang Syne.
Then the preacher in the pulpit said, "You've had your ******* time,
You've had your ******* time!"

well it does rhyme
 
#12
I like Shep Woolley's...

Knobby Hall a young OD
Cleaned his suit in CTC
He hung it in the Mess to dry
His oppo lay asleep nearby
And all night long the fumes arose
And drifted up his oppo's nose.

When the Shaker's voice was heard
There was one that did not stir,
Knobby wept and whaled no end
To think that he'd killed his best friend!
The funeral was a grand affair
the RNBT rep was there.

So sailors please be ruled by me,
iIf you clean you suit in CTC,
Always take the greatest care
To hang it in the open air,
But MUCH BETTER if you can
Hang it by a WARDROOM FAN!!!

Were Sam to read this, he'd think he was being persecuted. And of course he'd be quite right. :wink:
 
#13
Greenie said:
I must go down to the sea again,to the lonely sea and Sky
and all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by
and the wheels kick and the winds song and the white sails shaking
and the grey mist on the seas face and a grey dawn breaking

I must go down to the seas again,for the call of the running tide
is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied
and all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying
and the flung spray and the blown spume and the sea gulls crying

I must go down to the seas again to the vagrant gypsy life
to the gulls way and the whales way where the winds like a whetted knife
and all I ask is is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow rover
a quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trips finally over

One of Masefields poems----- not sure what the title is but it rings true
with me--the lure of the sea!!
"Sea Fever" Most excellent poem!
 
#14
Here's one from this side of the pond:

"O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is one!
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
while follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;

But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
where on the deck my captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up-for you the flag is flung-for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths-for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

Hear Captain! dear father!
this arm beneath your head!
it is some dream that on the deck,
you've fallen cold and dead.

My captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse or will,
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;

Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

-Walt Whitman, (1865) an elegy on abraham Lincoln.
 
#15
I remember reading some of Walt Whitman's poems in the author's hand on a visit to NY in 1982, in their Library along 5th Avenue. I wish some of our local libraries staged exhibitions like that one. It was really interesting. I've never forgotten it! The trip was only spoiled by the fact that it was my 3rd visit, and on every visit the viewing platform in the Empire State Building was closed! Ended up looking down on it over coffee and crossants from the WTC! (Pricey too, by NY standards)
 

Father_Famine

Lantern Swinger
#16
Always_a_Civvy said:
I like Shep Woolley's...

Knobby Hall a young OD
Cleaned his suit in CTC
He hung it in the Mess to dry
His oppo lay asleep nearby
And all night long the fumes arose
And drifted up his oppo's nose.

When the Shaker's voice was heard
There was one that did not stir,
Knobby wept and whaled no end
To think that he'd killed his best friend!
The funeral was a grand affair
the RNBT rep was there.

So sailors please be ruled by me,
iIf you clean you suit in CTC,
Always take the greatest care
To hang it in the open air,
But MUCH BETTER if you can
Hang it by a WARDROOM FAN!!!

Were Sam to read this, he'd think he was being persecuted. And of course he'd be quite right. :wink:
I think that was one of Cyril Tawney's, not a Shep original.

If you can get hold of some of Cyrils CD's you'll find some crackers.

Diesel & Shale (Song about Boat people)
Stanley the Rat (A messdeck friend)

Chorus from another, (Chicken on Raft)

Chicken on a Raft on a Monday morning
Oh what a terrible sight to see
with the dabtoes for'd and the stokers aft
sitting there picking at a Chicken on a raft

excerpt from "Lean and unwashed tiffy)

Chorus
I'm a Lean and unwashed Tiffy
I come up from Plymouth town
I can fix it in a jiffy
If you pass that spanner down

Portland Girls are raving Beauties, specially in the Summer time
Makes you curse them weekend duties, making love to grease and grime

Chorus

I loved her standing, loved her lying and I called her Turtle Dove,
If I'd had wings I'd loved her flying thats the way I won my love

Chorus

I lost her to a wardroom chappy saying hes a better man
She needs wine to keep her happy all I drink is black and tan

Chorus.

I've just googled Cyril and discovered he passed away last year, a very sad loss.

Terry
 

FlagWagger

GCM
Book Reviewer
#19
Cyril Tawney There's a book available of Cyril's songs/poems called Grey Funnel Lines - I have a copy somewhere in one of the many packing boxes that currently occupy my home!

Send Down a Dove

I read a book a few years ago called "Send Down a Dove" with the storyline set on a WW2 submarine. It was written by Charles MacHardy and described by Alistair Maclean as "The greatest submarine story ever written" while another reviewer described it as "...not only one of the most thrilling submarine stories ever written: it is also an utterly truthful account of life as the lower deck saw it and lived it in the 1939-45 war".

The basic story line is that the submarine HMS SCORPION has its refit cancelled, and in April 1945, is sent on a poorly thought-out mission to patrol the Skaggarak with a captain that believes he will be passed over for promotion and a disaffected crew.

So where do the dove's come in? On the final page of the book is a fragment of verse which has stuck in my mind to this day:

O Lord above,
Send down a dove,
And give it wings of razors
To cut the throats
Of them there blokes
That sell bad beer to sailors.


I thought this verse was complete, but on Googling for it (plenty of copies of the book for sale, by the way), I found the following song on a site dedicated to sea shanties.

This dirty town has been my home since last Time I was sailing
But I'll not stay another day, I'd sooner be out whaling
Oh Lord above, send down a dove,
With beak as sharp as razors
To cut the throat of them there blokes
Who sells bad beer to sailors

Paid off me score and them ashore, me money soon was flying
With Judy Lee upon my knee in my ear a lying
Oh Lord above, send down a dove,
With beak as sharp as razors
To cut the throat of them there blokes
Who sells bad beer to sailors

With my newfound friends, my money spent just as fast as winking
But when I make to clean the slate, the landlord says, "Keep Drinking"
Oh Lord above, send down a dove,
With beak as sharp as razors
To cut the throat of them there blokes
Who sells bad beer to sailors

With me money gone and clothes in pawn and Judy set for leaving
Six months of pay gone in three days, but Judy isn't grieving
Oh Lord above, send down a dove,
With beak as sharp as razors
To cut the throat of them there blokes
Who sells bad beer to sailors

When the crimp comes round, I'll take his pound and his hand I'll be shaking
Tomorrow morn sail for the Horn just as dawn is breaking
Oh Lord above, send down a dove,
With beak as sharp as razors
To cut the throat of them there blokes
Who sells bad beer to sailors

So for one last trip from port I'll ship but next time back I'm swearing
I'll settle down in my hometown and go no more seafaring
Oh Lord above, send down a dove,
With beak as sharp as razors
To cut the throat of them there blokes
Who sells bad beer to sailors


Seems little changes in the world of runs ashore :)
 
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