Scottish Poetry Selection
- On The Quay

This poem is by the journalist and author John Joy Bell (1871-1934), known professionally as J J Bell. Born in Glasgow, Bell attended the University of Glasgow, where he studied chemistry.

After taking up journalism, he worked for the Glasgow Evening Times and as sub-editor of the Scots Pictorial. His articles depicted the life of working-class Glaswegians and were often written in the vernacular. He created the character of "Wee MacGreegor" for his Evening Times articles. The stories were so popular that they were published in book form and later made into a film. For example, see Wee Macgreegor Enlists.

      On The Quay

I've never traveled for more'n a day,
   I never was one to roam,
But I likes to sit on the busy quay,
   Watchin' the ships that says to me -
"Always somebody goin' away,
   Somebody gettin' home."

I likes to think that the world's so wide -
   'Tis grand to be livin' there,
Takin' a part in its goin's on. . . .
   Ah, now ye're laughin' at poor old John,
Talkin' o' works o' the world wi' pride
   As if he was doin' his share!

But laugh if ye will! When ye're old as me
   Ye'll find 'tis a rare good plan
To look at the world - an' love it too! -
   Though never a job are ye fit to do. . . .
Oh! 'tisn't all sorrow an' pain to see
   The work o' another man.
'Tis good when the heart grows big at last,
   Too big for trouble to fill -
Wi' room for the things that was only stuff
   When workin' an' winnin' seemed more'n enough -
Room for the world, the world so vast,
   Wi' its peoples an' all their skill.

That's what I'm thinkin' on all the days
   I'm loafin' an' smokin' here,
An' the ships do make me think the most
   (Of readin' in books 'tis little I'd boast), -
But the ships, they carries me long, long ways,
   An' draws far places near.

I sees the things that a sailor brings,
   I hears the stories he tells. . . .
   'Tis surely a wonderful world, indeed!
'Tis more'n the peoples can ever need!
   An' I praises the Lord - to myself I sings -
For the world in which I dwells.

An' I loves the ships more every day
   Though I never was one to roam.
Oh! the ships is comfortin' sights to see,
   An' they means a lot when they says to me -
"Always somebody goin' away,
   Somebody gettin' home."

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