Poems 16

                    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

                                                                                July 1927


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)


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