What The Old Man Said

“Don’t you take no sail off ‘er,”
The Ol’ Man said,
Wind an’ sea rampagin’
Fit to wake the dead, —

Thrashin’ through the Forties
In the sleet and ‘ail,
Runnin’ down the Eastin’
Under all plain sail.

“She’s loggin’ seventeen
An’ she’s liftin’ to it grand,
So I’m goin’ down below
For a stretch off the land.

“An’ if it gits any worse. Mister,
You can come an’ call me,
But —  don’t you take no sail off ‘er,”
Said the Ol’ Man.
Said ‘e!

Them was the days, sonnies,
Them was the men,
Them was the ships
As we’ll never see again.

Oh, but it was somethin’
Then to be alive —
Thrashin’ under royals
South o’ Forty-five . . .

When it was — ” Don’t you take no sail off ‘er”
The Ol’ Man’d say,
Beard an’ whiskers starin’
Stiff with frozen spray —

“She’s loggin’ seventeen,
An’ she’s liftin’ to it grand,
An’ I mean to keep ‘er goin’
Under all she’ll stand.

“An’ if it gits any worse, Mister,
You can send an’ call me,
But — don’t you take no sail off ‘er,”
Said the Ol’ Man,
Said ‘e!

by Cicely Fox Smith, 1924

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