Rhyme of the Youthful Mariner


A lighthearted version of National Service in the 50s published some years ago and which was originally written for a Nasho reunion. Note:

Though poetry in modern times
Must be, it seems, in prose,
It can’t replace the verse that rhymes
And with a metre flows.

It’s true that metred rhyme alone
Provides no guarantee
That efforts better than my own
Are really poetry.

And so dear reader you will see,
My words good, bad or worse
Are never claimed as poetry,
I merely call them verse.


(or Thank Heavens for the Airforce)

A while ago, I turned eighteen
With National Service due,
Because my Dad a tar had been,
I joined the navy too.

Ashore I did not have a care
No swell and I was swell,
Afloat I suffered mal de mer
Like Nelson I hear tell.

Our vessel was an old corvette,
The man o’ war Junee,
But just how small can warships get?
Below the wharf rode she.

Our greatest threat the Bofors gun,
One for’ard and one aft,
Became a threat ere we had done
Much more to our own craft.

We trained around the for’ard one
Towards the bridge you see,
Old salts may say it can’t be done,
Our captain won’t agree.

The armament was not a threat
More than a week or so,
We jammed them both and could not get
Them any more to go.

Still, while we roamed the boundless sea
Upon our fearless way,
Invaders we did never see
We scared them all away.

The skipper thought that Nashos must
Their brains now implement,
So set us all to chipping rust
‘Til through the deck one went.

We’re told when off Cape York’s top end
“The whalers learn to sail”
Though weather foul, they still did send
My group into the gale.

With wind astern we flew of course
But could not close haul tack
The ship blinked lamps like mad in morse
We waved a cap right back.

We lowered sail and oars then tried
One rowlock we were short
Around the oar some rope we tied
But could not hold it taut.

Downwind the ship its way did wend
To help us in our plight
No further Nashos did they send,
To drown us, ’twas not right.

We chipped more rust and painted side,
Before the ‘swain could blink
The heads we’d painted with great pride
A shocking shade of pink.

We sailed her home, not claiming fame
We mariners so bold
But Nashos will not take the blame
That, she for scrap, was sold.


By Mel Austin









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Posted by Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

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