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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Poor Jack

By Charles Dibdin (1745–1814)

GO patter to lubbers and swabs, do you see,

’Bout danger, and fear, and the like;

A tight-water boat and good sea-room give me,

And it ain’t to a little I’ll strike.

Though the tempest topgallant-mast smack smooth should smite

And shiver each splinter of wood,

Clear the deck, stow the yards, and house everything tight,

And under reef foresail we’ll scud:

Avast! nor don’t think me a milksop so soft,

To be taken for trifles aback;

For they say there’s a Providence sits up aloft,

To keep watch for the life of poor Jack!

I heard our good chaplain palaver one day

About souls, heaven, mercy, and such;

And, my timbers! what lingo he’d coil and belay;

Why, ’twas just all as one as High Dutch;

For he said how a sparrow can’t founder, d’ye see,

Without orders that come down below;

And a many fine things that proved clearly to me oft

That Providence takes us in tow:

For, says he, do you mind me, let storms ne’er so oft

Take the topsails of sailors aback,

There’s a sweet little cherub that sits up aloft,

To keep watch for the life of poor Jack!

I said to our Poll (for d’ye see, she would cry

When last we weighed anchor for sea),

What argufies sniveling and piping your eye?

Why, what a young fool you must be!

Can’t you see the world’s wide, and there’s room for us all,

Both for seamen and lubbers ashore?

And so if to old Davy I go, my dear Poll,

Why, you never will hear of me more.

What then? all’s a hazard: come, don’t be so soft;

Perhaps I may, laughing, come back;

For d’ye see? there’s a cherub sits smiling aloft,

To keep watch for the life of poor Jack.

D’ye mind me? a sailor should be every inch

All as one as a piece of the ship,

And with her brave the world, without offering to flinch,

From the moment the anchor’s a-trip.

As for me, in all weathers, all times, sides, and ends,

Naught’s a trouble from duty that springs;

For my heart is my Poll’s, and my rhino’s my friend’s,

And as for my life, ’tis the King’s.

Even when my time comes, ne’er believe me so soft;

As for grief to be taken aback;

For the same little cherub that sits up aloft

Will look out a good berth for poor Jack.