Tuesday, 4 January 2011
Like Bill Adams I came fresh to sea life from an English public school where I wore a tophat and carried a silver topped cane. 'China'
Lowry appears to have been an avid reader of sea stories before he went to sea in 1927. It is easy to see why Malc would identify himself with Bill Adams who had gone off to sea himself at 17 as had Malc at the same age in 1927. Bill Adams also used his sea experiences as a source of inspiration for his writing. Similarly, Malc was used his experiences from his Far East voyage in 1927 for his early short story 'China'.
Bill Adams would have also appealed to a young Malc with his mentions of windjammers, Liverpool and the Mersey.
Bertram Martin Adams (Bill Adams)(1879–1953)
Bill Adams was born in England to American parents. He left college to go to sea at age seventeen in a career that lasted four or ﬁve years and logged seven passages around Cape Horn.* Before his sailing career was ended by ill health, he had attained the rank of mate. After retiring from the sea, he lived in the San Francisco area, where he became involved in the socialist movement and found inspiration in Jack London’s* writings of the sea. In 1921 Adams began a modest literary career of his own, culminating in 1937 with an autobiography, Ships and Women.
His early sea stories were collected in Fenceless Meadows (1923), and he published a volume of sea verse,Wind in the Topsails, in 1923. In the late 1920s and early 1930s he published several good sea stories. Although they appeared in such excellent magazines as The Atlantic Monthly andEsquire, and there were enough for another volume of stories, he never collected them. At least three of his stories appeared in O. Henry collections of best short stories of the year: “Jukes” (1927), “Home Is the Sailor” (1928), and “The Lubber” (1933). “The Foreigner” appeared inBest Short Stories of America (1932). As ex- pressions of his socialist values, his stories often celebrate the lives of working sailors, and they are notable for their frequent inclusion of sea songs.
Many of his poems were previously published in magazines such as ADVENTURE, THE OUTLOOK, PICTORIAL REVIEW, THE SATURDAY EVENING POST, SHORT STORIES, McCLURE'S, PREMIER, LONDON, NEPTUNE'S LOG, HEARST'S INTERNATIOAL, and BLUE PETER.
You can read a complete list of published poems here
A three-skysail yarder with her hatches battened down,
And the grey sky up above her, and the Mersey's muddy brown
A-rippling at her forefoot. The red stack tug's ahead,
And the chanteyman is singing in a voice to wake the dead.
The windlass pawls are clanking. The mate shouts "Heave away!
Heave a pawl there! Rouse and lift her" Out beyond the bar the spray,
The wheeling gulls, and the cold green water
Are waiting for the coming of the sea's tall daughter.
We've lowered away Blue Peter, and the anchor's off the mud,
And there's cheering, and there's laughter, and the tide is at the flood.
"Heave away there! Loose those tops'ls! Stamp and run!"
Bawls the chief mate. Comes a glimmer from the sun,
And her lofty spars are shining through the smoke a-blowing past,
While a little sea apprentice chap is running up each mast.
Now he's out along the footrope, now he's casting loose her sail,
And the pilot shakes the skipper's hand and clambers o'er the rail.
Now we're hauling in the hawser, for her six big tops'ls draw,
And her white wake trails behind her. Ho, we're running from the shore!
A three-skysail yarder with her holds jammed full,
And a cheer from the pierhead for the pride o' Liverpool!
Read more poems here