Sunning ourselves in October on a day
Balmy as spring, though the year was in decay,
I lading my pipe, she stirring her tea,
My old woman she says to me,
“Feel ye, old man, how the season mellows?”
And why should I not, blessed heart alive,
Here mellowing myself, past sixty-five,
To think o’ the May-time o’ pennoned young
This stripped old hulk here for years may
Ere yet, long ago, we were spliced, Bonny Blue,
(Silvery it gleams down the moon-glade o’ time,
Ah, sugar in the bowl and berries in the prime!)
Coxswain I o’ the Commodore’s crew,–
Under me the fellows that manned his fine gig,
Spinning him ashore, a king in full fig.
Chirrupy even when crosses rubbed me,
Bridegroom Dick lieutenants dubbed me.
Pleasant at a yarn, Bob o’ Linkum in a song,
Diligent in duty and nattily arrayed,
Favored I was, wife, and fleeted right along;
And though but a tot for such a tall grade,
A high quartermaster at last I was made.
All this, old lassie, you have heard before,
But you listen again for the sake e’en o’ me;
No babble stales o’ the good times o’ yore
To Joan, if Darby the babbler be.
Babbler?–O’ what? Addled brains, they
O–quartermaster I; yes, the signals set,
Hoisted the ensign, mended it when frayed,
Polished up the binnacle, minded the helm,
And prompt every order blithely obeyed.
To me would the officers say a word cheery–
Break through the starch o’ the quarter-deck
His coxswain late, so the Commodore’s pet.
Ay, and in night-watches long and weary,
Bored nigh to death with the navy etiquette,
Yearning, too, for fun, some younker, a cadet,
Dropping for time each vain bumptious trick,
Boy-like would unbend to Bridegroom Dick.
But a limit there was–a check, d’ ye see:
Those fine young aristocrats knew their degree.
Well, stationed aft where their lordships
Seldom going forward excepting to sleep,–
I, boozing now on by-gone years,
My betters recall along with my peers.
Recall them? Wife, but I see them plain:
Alive, alert, every man stirs again.
Ay, and again on the lee-side pacing,
My spy-glass carrying, a truncheon in show,
Turning at the taffrail, my footsteps retracing,
Proud in my duty, again methinks I go.
And Dave, Dainty Dave, I mark where he
Our trim sailing-master, to time the high-noon,
That thingumbob sextant perplexing eyes and
Squinting at the sun, or twigging o’ the moon;
Then, touching his cap to Old Chock-a-Block
Commanding the quarter-deck,–“Sir, twelve
Where sails he now, that trim sailing-master,
Slender, yes, as the ship’s sky-s’l pole?
Dimly I mind me of some sad disaster–
Dainty Dave was dropped from the navy-roll!
And ah, for old Lieutenant Chock-a-Block–
Fast, wife, chock-fast to death’s black dock!
Buffeted about the obstreperous ocean,
Fleeted his life, if lagged his promotion.
Little girl, they are all, all gone, I think,
Leaving Bridegroom Dick here with lids that
Where is Ap Catesby? The fights fought of
Famed him, and laced him with epaulets, and
But fame is a wake that after-wakes cross,
And the waters wallow all, and laugh
Where’s the loss?
But John Bull’s bullet in his shoulder bearing
Ballasted Ap in his long sea-faring.
The middies they ducked to the man who had
With Decatur in the gun-room, or forward
Fighting beside Perry, Hull, Porter, and the