A Swallow Tale

“Read this book” my mother said
Advice to take and so I read
She read me first a footnote penned
By Arthur Ransome, now my friend
Enchanting me in such a way
I flew to find what else he’d say
Discovering soon that not to fly
But sail was the thing, and also why

Adrift in adventures, marooned in the spell
I practiced my campfires, befriending the smell
The points of a compass, like Northwest-by-West
I practiced with wind, and did my best
To talk like a Swallow; tack and reef
And pemmican tins—not corned-beef
What natives call lemonade, now is grog
—And how to write a sailor’s log

The D’s convinced me to learn Morse code
And Roger: to “Indian” round the road
The halyards now are familiar to me
As Captain Flint and Timothy
I’m also learning Semaphore
And quite at home with sailboat-lore
So to these books who’ve stood the years
I now pronounce Three Million Cheers!