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Original Poctrp.


Original Poctrp. THE MAN BEFORE THE MAST. Dear land friends, when at times you stand In groups upon the shore, And watch a ship or steamer O'er the waters proudly soar, You may think a merchant seaman's got An easy pleasant life, And that his lot is happy- Quite free from care and strife. But ah, you are mistaken, friends, I have to let yon know, And some of his cruel grievances I now will try to show. So that in future when you see Some stately ship glide past. You'll know some of the troubles Of the Man before the Mast. Before he signs the owners try To cut his wages down, And if he speaks the shipping clerk Will darkly on him frown; They'll call him a sea lawyer If he only says a word, And ten to one won't sign him, Surely friends, this is absurd. He doesn't get sufficient pay To keep his babes and wife, While those he makes the money for Are wealthy in this life; And in the joys and sweets of earth Their lot is daily oast, Hard earned by the labour Of the Man before the Mast. The articles are then read out In domineering voice, He's told that while on board the ship His conduct must be nioe; He must obey superiors On board, in boats, on shore, Or if he don't the punishment He'll get will be most sore. He musn't dare to quit the ship without the j chief mate's leave, And if be takes a glass too much he logging will receive; In short, if any wrong is done the blame is on him cast, For they treat men worsa than dogs in British ships before the Mast. He's scolded when he's at the wheel, Though those who at him jeer If put to it not half as well As him the ship could steer, And if he hasn't eagle eyes When upon the look-out. And see alight before them They will at him loudly shout; ¡ And when his watch is ended, And he ought to get below, He's very often kept on deck The sails to reef or stow. His work is never ended, And his labour's never past, Men are nothing but machines In merohant ships before the mast. While every trade is clamouring For an eight hours' day ashore, A poor sailor often works Just sixteen out of twenty-four. And should his ship at night perhaps Be going to sail away It don't make any difference He has to work all day, Or should his ship in port At one or two a.m. arrive, Incredulous he's roused again From sleep at half-past five. And even on a Sunday, When his toil should all be past, He has to work till eight o'clock, The Man before the Mast. Oh, friends, you've no idea Of his wrongs that I could name, And surely in this Empire Of Great Britain 'tis a shame, To treat the men that sail our ships In such a shabby way; It is monstrous and inhuman, It is cruel and wrong, I aay, I challenge contradiction, Of my words I'm not afraid. And I say Jack is neglected By the British Board of Trade But I hope another Plimsoll Will right his wrongs at last, And that justice will be done to men That sail before the mast. Oh men of dear old England, Men of Scotland, Ireland, Wales, When the tempest in its violence Round your coasts most loudly rails, Think upon your friends the sailors Out amidst the ocean's roar, And who toil to bring their vessels With their cargoes safe to shore And don't despise a sailor If he is a little wild And foolish when he comes on shore, He's but an ocean child But when his spree is ended, And his boozing has gone past, The best fellow in the world Is the Man before the Mast. Barry Docks, May, 1904. JOE BRAY.




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