The Blazing Star [poem by E. J. Brady]

[Editor: This poem by E. J. Brady was published in The Ways of Many Waters (1899).]


The Blazing Star.

Blazin’ Star, from Boston city — Yankee goods and kerosene;
Foreign crew and cook and master; stout, old-fashioned brigantine.
Hamburg-built and rigged and coppered ’fore the flying days of steam;
Square in bows and starn, and steady; well-set spars and broad o’ beam.
Rolled across the rough Atlantic, round the Cape and round the Horn,
Been a famous ocean trader ’fore the younger age was born.
Carried corn and carried sugar, carried cotton, carried tea;
Sailed in every kind of water, weathered storm and wind and sea;
Been to Behring Straits a-whaling, been for rice to Singapore,
Been to North and South, and round it, but she’s never been ashore.
See ’er manifest, m’ hearties, piles and piles o’ hardware stock,
Case and crate and box and package — ram her, jam her chock-a-block.
So you’ll get them shore-lines ready, now they’ve run ’er numbers out,
And the man that isn’t willing he can face to right-about,
For the agent’s got to send ’er down to Callao with shale,
And we’ll empty and we’ll fill ’er in a fortnight — and she’ll sail.

Heave away, you damn Dutch devils! and we’ll heave away ashore.
She ’as lost a bit o’ canvas, and ’er planks is weather-wore.
Ease ’er ’ed and round her gently! Put the fenders out, I say!
Pass that line a trifle forrard; let ’er ’ave a bit o’ way!
By the livin’ ghost, M’Ginnis, if I ’ave to talk to you! . . .
Steady, steady! all together! ’Nother turn — there, that’ll do!

Round the Horn, and none the worse, sir; crew and captain safe and sound.
Bar a Swede — there’s plenty of ’em — he went over-board and drowned.
Bless my soul! there ain’t a vessel hardly ever comes to port,
Be the passage what it may be, but the list is someone short.
Someone slips from shrouds or mainyard; block hits someone on the ’ed —
What the devil does it matter ’long as Someone’s safely dead?

Get yer tackle right and ready! strip, ye lazy sinners, strip!
Blazin’ Star’s my boat, I reckon. I’m the boss of this yere ship.
I’m the foreman, don’t forget it! and begawd I’ll let ye know
Who is who and over hatches when the winch begins to go.
Cook ’as got some baked beans doin’, bit o’ pork to give ’em tone —
Foreign captain, fond o’ livin’, Blazin’ Star’s a boat to own.
Damn the duties! lots o’ bacca stowed in corners here and there;
Want to get it safe ashore, sir? foreman, e’s the man to square.
Customs cove is sharp and surly; won’t accept the mate’s invite
Down to dinner in the cabin, won’t “come back on board to-night.”
Friend o’ mine, e’s got a dingy — very dark, I guess, at ten —
’Ave the ’bacca ready forrard; see what we can do by then!

Blazin’ Star, from Boston city! Break the hatches fore and aft;
’T will not be the first occasion hatch was broke on this same craft.
Sailed the Star myself in ’60 — that was twenty year before
Women, booze, and seaman’s worries made me try my luck ashore,
Sailed the Star with Yankee captain round to New Orleans and back;
Blued a cheque among the French girls, got a touch o’ Yaller Jack.
Oh, she’s staunch and stout and steady, and she’s got the proper grit;
You should see ’er — reefed from royals — dip ’er damn Dutch nose in it!
You should see ’er, washed with waters from ’er bowsprit to ’er starn,
Rise and shake ’erself upon ’em ’s if she did n’t care a darn.

Pat M’Ginnis, put your coat on! PUT IT ON! you loafing sod!
Thought I was n’t looking, did you? but you can’t ’ave me, begawd!
Don’t I catch you broaching cargo? When I start to steal a hat
I won’t set about it, sonny, in a clumsy way like that.

Yes! she’s reckoned small and ugly, as they build ’em nowadays,
But she’s strong as ever floated from ’er keelson to ’er stays;
North and south and round about it, sail ’er near or sail ’er far,
Any flag you send ’er under, she’ll come back the Blazin’ Star.
East and west, and let ’er ’ave it; give ’er all the sail she’ll take,
Blazin’ Star will fetch ’er cargo, or ’er bloomin’ back will break.

Now, my lads, the Dutchman’s waiting — wants to see ’er on the go
’Fore he comes ashore on business — “choost for half-an-hour or so.”
Gets up town and drinking whisky, treating Sis and Sue and Kate;
“Half-an-hour” will spread till morning — boozy skipper, boozy mate;
Boozy crew, ashore till midnight; lots of ladies round the town;
Lots of foreign friends to meet ’em; lot o’ folks to take ’em down.
What’s the odds? The sailor’s happy; let him live a week or two;
Junk and biscuit make him moody — not the tack for me and you!
What’s the odds if someone robs him? Let the lady play her game;
Robbed he will be, soon or later, so you see it’s all the same.
Hi, there! Yonsen; move yer body! — I’m the foreman of this ship;
If you don’t — so help me scarlet! — up the gory hatch you skip!

Blazin’ Star from Boston city! port to port in ninety days,
With the sea salt, white and sparkling, crusted on ’er water-ways.
Rolled around the North Atlantic, tossed about by day and night,
Weather-wore, mayhap, a trifle, but she’s spar and timber tight,
Square o’bows and starn, and steady; she’s the proper kind o’ grit;
You should see ’er — clear to royals — dip ’er damn Dutch nose in it;
You should see ’er waller through ’em at a Flyin’-Dutchman’s speed,
With the winds o’ hell behind ’er, on the night they lost the Swede.
God o’ Glory! she’s a scorcher — mainyard under, decks swept clean —
Blazin’ Star ain’t built for sinking — good old-fashioned brigantine!

E. J. Brady, The Ways of Many Waters, Melbourne: Thomas C. Lothian, 1909 [first published 1899], pages 49-54

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