Poem Hunter
Christmas Eve At Sea
AS (16th March 1943 / Portland, Dorset England)

Christmas Eve At Sea

Poem By Andrew Shiston

The sheets were frozen solid
And snow lay on the decks
The day was as cold as charity
As we tacked from east to west
We could see the shore lights bright and clear
With warmth in the streaming smoke
But we couldn't get close, or near
Or we would founder on the shore
The proud figure-head of our bounty
Had dove in the grey-beards before
But now her head stayed wet
As we heeled hard to the storm
The young-bloods were trying to reef
But the frappings were covered in ice
And to climb high above the decks
Would be the last of a young-bloods life
With a cannon-shot the topgallant went
We broadsided to the gale
With sheets ripped into pennants
Only time for the others to fail
From the shore we heard the church bells ring
Now it was Christmas day
And with all the crew in the forecastle
Now was the time to pray
The sailing master saw a shining light
It was the light at Portland Bill
With starboard rudder hard over
He clung to the steering wheel
The figure-head aimed for the opening
Between two massive great stone walls
And on Christmas day as the church bells rang
The anchor fell through the hawse
And our torn and shredded vessel
Swung at anchor
With cheers from townsfolk ashore.

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