How many sailors to sail a ship?

How many sailors to sail a ship?
One with a broken heart
to weep sad buckets.

Two with four blue eyes
to mirror the sea.

One with a salty tongue
to swear at a pirate.

Two with four green eyes
to mirror the sea.

One with a wooden leg
to dance on a gangplank.

Two with four grey eyes
to mirror the sea.

Luff! Leech! Clew! Tack!
Off to sea! Won’t be back!

One with an arrowed heart
tattooed on a bicep.

Two with four blue eyes
to mirror the sky.

One with a baby’s caul
to keep from a-drowning.

Two with four grey eyes
to mirror the sky.

One with a flask of rum
to gargle at midnight.

Two with four black eyes
to mirror the sky.

Luff! Clew! Tack! Leech!
Off to sea! No more beach!

One with an albatross
to put in a poem.

Two with four blue eyes
to mirror the sea.

One with a secret map
to stitch in a lining.

Two with four grey eyes
to mirror the sea.

One with a violin
to scrape at a dolphin.

Two with four green eyes
to mirror the sea.

Luff! Leech! Tack! Clew!
Off to sea! Yo ho! Adieu!

One with a telescope
to clock the horizon.

Two with four blue eyes
to mirror the sky.

One with a yard of rope
to lasso a tempest.

Two with four grey eyes
to mirror the sky.

One with a heavy heart
to sink for an anchor.

Two with four black eyes
to mirror the sky.

Leech! Clew! Tack! Luff!
Off to sea! We’ve had enough!
Carol Ann Duffy

From The Thing that Mattered Most: Scottish poems for children edited by Julie Johnstone (SPL/B&W, 2006)

Reproduced by permission of the author.
Carol Ann Duffy

The first female, Scottish Poet Laureate in the role's 400 year history, Carol Ann Duffy's combination of tenderness and toughness, humour and lyricism, unconventional attitudes and conventional forms, has won her a very wide audience of readers and listeners. 

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