Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, BLACK-EYED SUSAN, by JOHN GAY



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BLACK-EYED SUSAN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: All in the downs the fleet was moored
Last Line: "adieu!"" she cried; and waved her lily hand."
Variant Title(s): Sweet William's Farewell To Black-eyed Susan
Subject(s): Absence; Farewell; Sea; Separation; Isolation; Parting; Ocean


All in the Downs the fleet was moored,
The streamers waving in the wind,
When black-eyed Susan came abroad;
"O, where shall I my true-love find?
Tell me, ye jovial sailors, tell me true
If my sweet William sails among the crew."
William, who high upon the yard
Rocked with the billow to and fro,
Soon as her well-known voice he heard
He sighed, and cast his eyes below:
The cord slides swiftly through his glowing hands,
And quick as lightning on the deck he stands.
So the sweet lark, high poised in air,
Shuts close his pinions to his breast
If chance his mate's shrill call he hear,
And drops at once into her nest: --
The noblest captain in the British fleet
Might envy William's lips those kisses sweet.
"O Susan, Susan, lovely dear,
My vows shall ever true remain;
Let me kiss off that falling tear;
We only part to meet again.
Change as ye list, ye winds; my heart shall be
The faithful compass that still points to thee.
"Believe not what the landmen say
Who tempt with doubts thy constant mind:
They'll tell thee, sailors, when away,
In every port a mistress find:
Yes, yes, l believe them when they tell thee so,
For thou art present whereso'er I go.
"If to fair India's coast we sail,
Thy eyes are seen in diamonds bright,
Thy breath is Afric's spicy gale,
Thy skin is ivory so white.
Thus every beauteous object that I view
Wakes in my soul some charm of lovely Sue.
"Though battle call me from thy arms,
Let not my pretty Susan mourn;
Though cannons roar, yet safe from harms
William shall to his dear return.
Love turns aside the balls that round me fly.
Lest precious tears should drop from Susan's eye."
The boatswain gave the dreadful word,
The sails their swelling bosom spread;
No longer must she stay abroad:
They kissed, she sighed, he hung his head.
Her lessening boat unwilling rows to land;
"Adieu!" she cried; and waved her lily hand.




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