Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. V. Nature
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume V. Nature.  1904.
 
VII. The Sea
Poor Jack
Charles Dibdin (1745–1814)
 
GO, patter to lubbers and swabs, do ye see,
  ’Bout danger, and fear, and the like;
A tight-water boat and good sea-room give me,
  And it a’n’t to a little I ’ll strike.
Though the tempest topgallant-masts smack smooth should smite,        5
  And shiver each splinter of wood,—
Clear the deck, stow the yards, and bouse everything tight,
  And under reefed foresail we ’ll scud:
Avast! nor don’t think me a milksop so soft
  To be taken for trifles aback;        10
For they say there ’s a Providence sits up aloft,
  To keep watch for the life of poor Jack!
 
I heard our good chaplain palaver one day
  About souls, heaven, mercy, and such;
And, my timbers! what lingo he ’d coil and belay;        15
  Why, ’t was just all as one as High Dutch;
For he said how a sparrow can’t founder, d’ ye see,
  Without orders that come down below;
And a many fine things that proved clearly to me
  That Providence takes us in tow:        20
“For,” says he, do you mind me, “let storms e’er so oft
  Take the topsails of sailors aback,
There ’s a sweet little cherub that sits up aloft,
  To keep watch for the life of poor Jack!”
 
I said to our Poll,—for, d’ ye see, she would cry—        25
  When last we weighed anchor for sea,
“What argufies snivelling and piping your eye?
  Why, what a blamed fool you must be!
Can’t you see, the world ’s wide, and there ’s room for us all,
  Both for seamen and lubbers ashore?        30
And if to old Davy I should go, friend Poll,
  You never will hear of me more.
What then? All ’s a hazard: come, don’t be so soft:
  Perhaps I may laughing come back;
For, d’ ye see, there ’s a cherub sits smiling aloft,        35
  To keep watch for the life of poor Jack!”
 
D’ ye mind me, a sailor should be every inch
  All as one as a piece of the ship,
And with her brave the world, not offering to flinch
  From the moment the anchor ’s a-trip.        40
As for me, in all weathers, all times, sides, and ends,
  Naught ’s a trouble from duty that springs,
For my heart is my Poll’s, and my rhino ’s my friend’s,
  And as for my will, ’t is the king’s.
Even when my time comes, ne’er believe me so soft        45
  As for grief to be taken aback;
For the same little cherub that sits up aloft
  Will look out a good berth for poor Jack!
 
 
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