Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis

(7 September 1876 - 22 June 1938 / Auburn, South Australia)

A Chantey of Labor's Lost


There on the quay sobbed Bones, A.B.,
And he took me by the hand.
Says he to me, 'I've quit the sea
An' I'm huntin' a berth on land.
‘Er doom ‘as come; an' the days o' rum,
Salt-‘orse an' tar is over;
For these is the days of the popinjays
An' the end of the deep-sea rover
Oh,
Them tough ole, rough ole, rollicking lads
The shell-back, deep-sea rover.

'They've finished with me,' says Bones, A.B.,
'For they've finished with seamanship.
What they're shippin' of late is a milliner's mate
With a housemaid's mop on the ‘ip.
But ask ‘im the rig of a barque or a brig,
Or the toons of the chanteys sung
By a buck he-male in the days of sail
When me an' me mates was young
Oh,
Them mad ole, bad ole, rollicking days
When mates an' the world was young.

'Before ‘e was born I'd rounded the Horn
Ten times in ships o' sail,
Close-reefed an' fast in the bellerin' blast
Of the mother-in-law of a gale.
Bare-decked I been, an' wrecked I been,
Mate-hazed, marooned, shanghai-ed.
But shiver me gob, I knoo me job
In the days when the seas was wide
Oh,
Them reckless, feckless, rollicking days
When faith and the seas was wide.

'So I'm leavin' the sea,' says Bones, A.B.,
'For the sea don't need me now.
An' I'm shapin' a course to valet a ‘orse
Or coddle a milkin' cow.
All that they asks of shipboard tasks
Is a dood of a doll's-eye weaver;
An' I'm missin' ‘em bad; them mates I ‘ad
So lovin' the sea they leave ‘er
Oh,
Them tearin', swearin', devil-may-carin',
Lovable lads wot leave ‘er.'

Submitted: Tuesday, August 28, 2012

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