The Crossing (With apologies to William Wordsworth)
I wondered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills
With cape wrapped round me like a shroud
I left the streets and setts and mills
And faced the wind and hills of Wales
To where the Irish Mail boat sails
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way
The waves, in giant, restless line
Broke heavily along the bay.
I went aboard with many a quail –
-“Twas going to be a fearsome sail!
The waves beneath us danced, but they
Were easily outclassed by we
And many a man who first was gay
In anguish gazed across the sea
Or feebly to the rail he clings,
And mutters strange, uncanny things.
And oft when in my bunk I lay
In vacant or in pensive mood
I cared not were I washed away –
And if I were left in solitude
Oh how I wished I’d stayed instead
- In some landlubbers homely bed!
When dawn broke cold and dull and grey
With light slow-gaining all the while
At last we calm and silent lay –
We’d reached the Emerald Isle
Now though my heart would fain forget
My mind o’er that night lingers yet
‘Twas sure the roughest night I’d met
A Lament (With apologies to Longfellow)
Lives of cyclists all remind us
Though now on ‘singles’ you will find
Eventually She rides behind us
Will She always ride behind?
When I scan my cycling brothers
As they at the meet appear
Though I now find many others
Some there are no longer here.
Happy faces I remember,
Always out, whatever the ride
New Year’s Day till bleak December
Morning’s dawn till eventide
Now they’re lost, and gone forever
Gone and no more to retrace
Leaving spaces we can never
In the hearts of us replace.
I wish them well – but would remind them
Ere the marriage knot they bind
That, though now She rides behind them
She won’t always ride behind! (This poem appeared in the Bolton DA
CTC Supplement in December 1928)