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Seafarin'
 
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THE FIGURE-HEAD
by
Crosbie Garstin

There was an ancient carver who fashioned a saint
But the parson wouldn’t have it, so he took a pot of paint
And changed its angel-garments for a dashing soldier rig
And said it was a figure-head and sold it to a brig.
The brig hauled her mainsail to an off-shore draught
Then she shook her snowy royals and the Scillies went abaft
And cloudy with the canvas she ran before the Trade
Till she came to the Equator where she struck a merry-maid.
A string of pearls and conches were all of her togs
But the porpoises and flying-fish they followed her like dogs
She had a voice of silver and lips of coral red
She climbed the dolphin-striker and kissed the figure-head.

The captain wore his blue coat with buttons of brass
The mate he greased his forelock at the cabin looking-glass
The bo’sun paced the fo-castle and coughed “Ah ha, ahem”
But the merrymaid she turned her back and wouldn’t look at them.
And every starry evening she’d swim in the foam
About the bows a-singing like a nightingale at home
She’d call to him and sing to him as sweetly as a bird
But the wooden-headed effigy he never said a word.
And every starry evening in the Doldrum calms
She’d wriggle up the bob-stay and throw her tender arms
About his scarlet shoulders, and fondle him and cry
And stroke his curly whiskers, but he never winked an eye.

She couldn’t get an answer to her tears and moans
So she went and told her Daddy, told the ancient Davy Jones
Old Davy damned his eyesight, and puzzled of his wits
Then he whistled up his hurricanes and tore the brig to bits.
Down on the ocean-bed, green fathoms deep
Where the wreck lies rotting and the great sea-serpents creep
In a gleaming grotto all built of sailors’ bones
Sits the handsome figure-head, listening to Miss Jones.
Songs o’ love she sings him the live-long day
And she hangs upon his bosom and sobs the night away
But he never, never answers, for beneath his soldier paint
The wooden-headed lunatic still thinks that he’s a saint.
 
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