I loved the rolling chalk downs
With the comfort of lush grass,
Sheep bleating and other sounds
Birdsong aplenty from larks rising
Sky high in faraway grounds.
I rarely ventured so far as the sea.
It was a foreign land of flinty folk,
Drenched with spume from the sea
Where even their brittle tongue
Was not as ours and hard on me.
From my drab life I was sent there
And bore their rough speech and looks
For which I did not care
Fashioned by the inclement weather
The seas stinging salt spray hard to bear
But there was something for me
The rough cry of nesting gulls
The pulsating beat of the sea
Barnacles resisting the sea’s pulls
Pebbles burnished by tides and…thee
The wind howled, and the salt spray
Stung the eyes so that vision was a blur.
All this, yet I wanted to stay
For the fisherman’s daughter. For her
Charms with my heart did play
She stood full square with a grin on her face
Beckoning tendrils of hair in disarray
One hand on hip and creel held in place
With fresh caught fish to sell on the quay
She looked at me and I took back a pace
No fish ever was so eager to be caught
A full bosomed wench with feet bare and brown
“What’s the catch?” I asked as I ought
“Me” she replied “Father will throw in a gown
When you take me; which he has bought.”
There were enough strong sons for him.
Daughters were the catch they could not sell
Considered unlucky at sea and weak of limb
So for us a seaside church tolled out its bell
And celebrations lasted until the light was dim
“Take her,” her father said “And treat her right.”
“I’ll be kind” I said. So we settled there
In our tiny house we fitted in snug tight
And quickly my wife children did bear
Truly this was love at first sight.
Yes, I loved the place of my birth
And the birds in the sky winging,
But there is nothing on this earth
To match the sound of my wife singing
And children playing for all they are worth.