Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TOM DEADLIGHT, by HERMAN MELVILLE

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TOM DEADLIGHT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Farewell and adieu to you noble hearties
Last Line: And do'nt blubber like lubbers when I turn up my keel.
Subject(s): Death; Sailing & Sailors; Dead, The; Seamen; Sails

During a tempest encountered homeward-bound from the
Mediterranean, a grizzled petty-officer, one of the two captains
of the forecastle, dying at night in his hammock, swung in the
sick-bay under the tiered gun-decks of the British Dreadnaught,
9', wandering in his mind, though with glimpses of sanity, and
starting up at whiles, sings by snatches his good-bye and last
injunctions to two messmates his watchers, one of whom fans
the fevered tar with the flap of his old sou'-wester.
Some names and phrases, with here and there a line, or part
of one; these, in his aberration wrested into incoherency from
their original connection and import, he involuntarily derives, as
he does the measure, from a famous old sea-ditty, whose
cadences, long rife, and now humming in the collapsing brain,
attune the last flutterings of distempered thought: --

Farewell and adieu to you noble hearties, --
Farewell and adieu to you ladies of Spain,
For I've received orders for to sail for the Deadman,
But hope with the grand fleet to see you again.

I have hove my ship to, with main-top-sail aback, boys;
I have hove my ship to, for to strike soundings clear --
The black scud a' flying; but by God's blessing dam'me,
Right up the Channel for the Deadman I'll steer.

I have worried through the waters that are called the Doldrums,
And growled at Sargasso that clogs while ye grope --
Blast my eyes, but the light-ship is hid by the mist, lads: --
Flying-Dutchman -- oddsbobbs -- off the Cape of Good Hope!

But what's this I feel that is fanning my cheek, Matt?
The white goney's wing? -- how she rolls! -- 'tis the Cape! --
Give my kit to the mess, Jock, for kin none is mine, none;
And tell Holy Joe to avast with the crape.

Dead-reckoning, says Joe, it w'ont do to go by;
But they doused all the glims, Matt, in sky t'other night.
Dead-reckoning is good for to sail for the Deadman;
And Tom Deadlight he thinks it may reckon near right.

The signal! -- it streams for the grand fleet to anchor.
The Captains -- the trumpets -- the hullabaloo!
Stand by for blue-blazes, and mind your shank-painters,
For the Lord High Admiral he's squinting at you!

But give me my tot, Matt, before I roll over;
Jock, let's have your flipper, it's good for to feel;
And do'nt sew me up without baccy in mouth, boys,
And do'nt blubber like lubbers when I turn up my keel.

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