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A Nautical Extravagance by Wallace Irwin (painting by Winslow Homer)

I stood one day by the breezy bay
A-watching the ships go by,
When a tired tar said, with a shake of his head:
"I wisht I could tell a lie !

"I've seen some sights as would jigger yer lights,
And they've jiggered me own, in sooth,
But I ain't wuth a darn at spinnin' a yarn
What wanders away from the truth.

"We were out in the gig, the Rigagajig,
Jest a mile and a half to sea,
When Capting Snook, with a troubled look,
He came and he says to me:

"'o Bos'n Smith, make haste forthwith
And hemstich the fo'ard sail;
Accordeon pleat the dory sheet,
For there's going to be a gale.'

"I straightway did as the capting bid
No sooner the job was through
When the north wind, whoof, bounced over the roof,
And, murderin' lights, she blew !

"She blew the tars right off the spars,
And the spars right off the mast,
Sails and pails and anchors and nails
Flew by on the wings o' the blast.

"The galley shook as she blew our cook
Straight out o' the porthole glim,
While pots and pans, kettles and cans
Went clatterin' after him.

"She blew the fire from our gallant stove
And the coal from our gallant bin,
She whistled apace past the capting's face
And blew the beard off his chin !

"'O wizzel me dead!' the capting said
(And the words blew out of his mouth);
'We're lost, I fear, if the wind don't veer
And blow awhile from the south.'

"And wizzel me dead, no sooner he'd said
Them words that blew from his mouth,
Than the wind switched round with a hurricane sound
And blew straight in from the south.

"We opened our eyes with a wild surprise,
And never a word to say
In changin' her tack the wind blew back
The things that she'd blew away !

"She blew the tars back onto the spars,
And the spars back onto the mast;
Back flew the pails, the sails, and the nails,
Which into the ship stuck fast.

"And 'fore we could look she blew back the cook
Straight into the galley coop;
Back dropped the pans, kettles, and cans,
Without even spillin' the soup.

"She blew the fire back into the stove
Where it burnt in its proper place
And all of us cheered as she blew the beard
Back on the capting's face.

"There's more o' me tale," said the sailor hale,
"As would jigger yer lights, in sooth,
But I ain't wuth a darn at spinnin' a yarn
What wanders away from the truth."

- Wallace Irwin

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Guest 02-Mar-2014 16:55
I read this poem years ago, in my youth.
In remembering some of the lines, I couldn't find any reminds
Or the whereabouts or the name of a literature sleuth
But my granddaughter smarts with an overflowed heart

She found the rime that I lost in time
And I'm happy as a big fat goose,
That I can hail the whimsical tale
"What wanders away from the truth."
Guest 13-Aug-2007 13:44
Twas on the bark the Madelin Stark 'bout a thousand mile to see

Accordion pleat the spanker sheet