A buckin’ wooden tramp and a dirty British coaster

Burt Franklin Jennes and John Masefield were contemporaries, the American poet was born about 1876, Masefield in 1878

Sea Traders

Droppin’ down to Rio on a buckin’ wooden tramp;
Takin’ water for’r’d till her rotten planks were damp;
Pitchin’ like a bronco from the time we left the Keys;
Listin’ like a kettle when she took the quarter seas;
Loaded to the gunnels, making four knots an hour;
Steadied with her stays’l, but swaying like a flower;
Half a crew o’ Cubans, an’ a pair o’ Swedish mates;
That’s the way we traded from Fuego to the States.

Callin’ at Jamaica for a scuttle-butt o’ rum;
Lazin’ at fiestas till we spent our shippin’ sum;
Stricken with the fever, from the islands where it grew;
Fightin’ for our rations in a lazy, drunken crew;
Reelin’ round the Indies, makin’ port or makin’ sail;
Beatin’ up to windward in a Carribean gale;
Dippin’ down to Rio, Buenos Aires or the Straits —
That’s the way we traded from Fuego to the States.

Burt Franklin Jennes


Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amethysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

John Masefield

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.