Billy in the Darbies
Good of the chaplain to enter Lone Bay
And down on his marrowbones here and pray
For the likes just o’ me, Billy Budd.—But look:
through the port comes the moonshine astray!
It tips the guard’s cutlass and silvers this nook;
But ’twill die in the dawning of Billy’s last day.
A jewel-block they’ll make of me to-morrow,
Pendant pearl from the yardarm-end
Like the eardrop I gave to Bristol Molly—
O, ’tis me, not the sentence they’ll suspend.
Ay, ay, all is up; and I must up too
Early in the morning, aloft from alow.
On an empty stomach, now, never it would do.
They’ll give me a nibble—bit o’ biscuit ere I go.
Sure, a messmate will reach me the last parting cup;
But, turning heads away from the hoist and the belay,
Heaven knows who will have the running of me up!
No pipe to those halyards.—But aren’t it all sham?
A blur’s in my eyes; it is dreaming that I am.
A hatchet to my hawser? All adrift to go?
The drum roll to grog, and Billy never know?
But Donald he has promised to stand by the plank;
So I’ll shake a friendly hand ere I sink.
But—no! It is dead then I’ll be, come to think.—
I remember Taff the Welshman when he sank.
And his cheek it was like the bidding pink.
But me they’ll lash me in hammock, drop me deep.
Fathoms down, fathoms down, how I’ll dream fast asleep.
I feel it stealing now. Sentry, are you there?
Just ease these darbies at the wrist,
And roll me over fair.
I am sleepy, and the oozy weeds about me twist.
This poem is in the public domain.