Harry Kemp Poems >>
When Ham And Sham And Japhet: A Sailor's Song

When Ham and Shem and Japhet
They walked the capstan round
Upon the strangest vessel,
Was ever outward bound,
The music of their voices
From wave to welkin rang:
They sang the first sea-chantey
That sailors ever sang:
They sang of towns they'd been to,
Of girls that they had known,
Of what they'd done as children,
Of how the years had flown,
Of fights they'd had, and friendships,
Of many a hearty spree —
The same as every sailor
That sails upon the sea . . .

Now Noah, he was sitting
Alone and glum, below,
A-puzzling just a little
Why things were ordered so,
(For, though his soul accepted
What God commanded still,
At times he knew misgivings
As every good man will) —
When up above he heard them
A-singing, outward bound,
And walking, walking, walking,
Walking the capstan round —
Then, just as quick, his worry,
Passed like a gust of wind,
And he shinned up the ladder
And left his doubts behind,
And with his great beard flowing,
His grey robe pulled a-skew,
He walked the capstan with them:
He started singing too!