A Little Bit Of Blue

A poem by R. C. Lehmann

When the waves rise high and higher as they toss about together,
And the March-winds, loosed and angry, cut your chilly heart in two,
Here are eighteen gallant gentlemen who come to face the weather
All for valour and for honour and a little bit of blue!

Chorus.
Oh get hold of it and shove it!
It is labour, but you love it;
Let your stroke be long and mighty; keep your body on the swing;
While your pulses dance a measure
Full of pride and full of pleasure.
And the boat flies free and joyous like a swallow on the wing.

Isis blessed her noble youngsters as they left her; Father Camus
Sped his youths to fame and Putney from his grey and ancient Courts: -
"Keep," they said, "the old traditions, and we know you will not shame us
When you try the stormy tideway in your zephyrs and your shorts.

"For it's toil and tribulation till your roughnesses are polished,
And it's bitterness and sorrow till the work of oars is done;
But it's high delight and triumph when your faults are all abolished,
With yourself and seven brothers firmly welded into one."

So they stood the weary trial and the people poured to greet them,
Filled a cup with praise and welcome - it was theirs to take and quaff;
And they ranged their ships alongside, and the umpire came to meet them,
And they stripped themselves and waited till his pistol sent them off.

With a dash and spurt and rally; with a swing and drive and rattle,
Both the boats went flashing faster as they cleft the swelling stream;
And the old familiar places, scenes of many a sacred battle,
Just were seen for half a moment and went by them in a dream.

But at last the flag has fallen and the splendid fight is finished,
And the victory is blazoned on the record-roll of Fame.
They are spent and worn and broken, but their soul is undiminished;
There are winners now and losers, but their glory is the same!

Chorus.
Oh get hold of it and shove it!
It is labour, but you love it;
Let your stroke be long and mighty; keep your body on the swing;
While your pulses dance a measure
Full of pride and full of pleasure,
And the boat flies free and joyous like a swallow on the wing.

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