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Old 24-12-2012, 10:18   #1
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Christmas At Sea

Christmas At Sea

The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand;
The decks were like a slide, where a seaman scarce could stand;
The wind was a nor'wester, blowing squally off the sea;
And cliffs and spouting breakers were the only things alee.

They heard the surf a-roaring, before the break of day;
But 'twas only with the peep of light that we saw how ill we lay.
We tumbled every hand on deck, instanter, with a shout,
And we gave her the maintops'l, and stood by to go about.

All day we tacked and tacked between the South Head and the North;
All day we haul'd the frozen sheets, and got no further forth;
All day as cold as charity, in bitter pain and dread,
For very life and nature, we tacked from head to head.

We gave the South a wider berth, for there the tide race roared;
But every tack we made we brought the North Head close aboard;
So's we saw the cliffs and houses, and the breakers running high,
And the coastguard in his garden, with his glass against his eye.

The frost was on the village roofs as white as ocean foam;
The good red fires were burning bright in every 'longshore home;
The windows sparkled clear, and the chimneys volleyed out;
And I vow we sniffed the victuals as the vessel went about.

The bells upon the church were rung with a mighty jovial cheer;
For it's just that I should tell you how, (of all days in the year),
This day of our adversity was blessed Christmas morn,
And the house above the coastguard's, was the house where I was born.

O well I saw the pleasant room, the pleasant faces there,
My mother's silver spectacles, my father's silver hair;
And well I saw the firelight, like a flight of homely elves
Go dancing round the china plates that stand upon the shelves.

And well I knew the talk they had, the talk that was of me,
Of the shadow on the household, and the son that went to sea;
And O the wicked fool I seemed, in every kind of way,
To be here and hauling frozen ropes on blessed Christmas Day.

They lit the high sea-light, and the dark began to fall.
'All hands to loose topgallant sails,' I heard the captain call.
'By the Lord, she'll never stand it,' our first mate Jackson cried.
'It's the one way or the other, Mr. Jackson', he replied.

She staggered to her bearings, but the sails were new and good,
And the ship smelt up to windward just as though she understood.
As the winter's day was ending, in the entry of the night,
We cleared the weary headland, and passed below the light.

And they heaved a mighty breath, every soul on board but me,
As they saw her nose again pointing handsome out to sea;
But all that I could think of, in the darkness and the cold,
Was just that I was leaving home, and my folks were growing old.

-- Robert Louis Stevenson
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Old 24-12-2012, 10:25   #2
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Re: Christmas At Sea

Thanks, -a new one for me, but now on my list.
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Old 25-12-2012, 07:43   #3
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Re: Christmas At Sea

The agony of being torn between home 'n hearth, and a demanding mistress.(with all due respect to the ladies)
Merry Christmas to all.
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Old 25-12-2012, 10:15   #4
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Re: Christmas At Sea

although robert louis stevenson is one of the best and best known writers about the sea and sailing, he himself was not a merchant sailor, as were herman melville and joseph conrad. he went to sea for health reasons, on a chartered yacht. he eventually settled in samoa and died there at the young age of 44.
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Old 25-12-2012, 14:12   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onestepcsy37 View Post
although robert louis stevenson is one of the best and best known writers about the sea and sailing, he himself was not a merchant sailor, as were herman melville and joseph conrad. he went to sea for health reasons, on a chartered yacht. he eventually settled in samoa and died there at the young age of 44.
But he lived how he wanted so I'm sure he was alright with his fate. I think all of us who have set sail did so knowing what can happen.
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Old 28-12-2012, 08:55   #6
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Re: Christmas At Sea

Thought I'd read all of RLS's poetry. Where did you find that little gem? I, too, copied your post to slip into one of his books. Thank you for sending.

Fair winds for a bright new year
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Old 28-12-2012, 17:09   #7
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Re: Christmas At Sea

don't remember where i first saw it, but i decided to go to the local public library and find an rls poetry book. i xeroxed the page from that book, took it home, and put it on my computer using notepad.

got to be one of my favorites too.
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