Recall
Tom Lewis

The War To End Wars ended and I told my friends at school:
"Someday I'll sail around the world!"; they laughed and called me: "Fool",
But even as a youngster I was stubborn as a mule,
I set out to be a sailorman.

I signed aboard my first ship with a bright and cheerful song,
They said I was a nightingale who eased the work along,
I learned the old mens' stories and the work-chants loud and strong,
That's how I became a shantyman..

I screamed just like a banshee to be heard above the gales,
To keep the watch in unison and help them reef the sails,
The crew were tough as whipcord, the Skipper hard as nails
Still they needed this young shantyman.

But days of sail were ending and steamships coming fast,
I watched them sail into the wind, no sail set at the mast,
Black coal to drive them onward and no more the cool, clear blast,
A cold wind blowing for the shantyman.

Sitting on the capstan as my mates walked round,
I fiddled to the rhythm of the pawl and ratchet sound,
But hissing steam and clanking piston need no music now,
Say goodbye to one old shantyman.

Long decades past without the worksongs roaring to the sky,
And sailormen upon the beach could only wonder why,
Those graceful ships of yesteryear no more would greet their eye,
Washed up like flotsam was the shantyman.

But now once more the great square-riggers sail the oceans wide,
Those tall ships filled with green, young sailors working side by side,
The old songs ringing-out again, the shanties never died,
Hoist Blue Peter for the shantyman,
Blue Peter's hoisted for the shantyman.