A Boat on the Sea by Ethel Turner

A boat on the sea, my boat,
Eager and frail!
Sweet skies, smile as you look
On that fairy sail.

Waves, great waves, many years
You have worked your will.
Just while she passes through,
Kind waves, be still.

Winds—and I may not ask
That you never blow,
But spare her the moaning note
That the old boats know.

Ethel Turner twoEthel Turner


I found this little poem  in The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse, edited by Walter Murdoch, (1918 edition online courtesy of Bartleby.com) None of the other poems I looked at in this book grabbed at me..but there was something about this one. I noticed it was also extant on other sites and wondered why.  And then something clicked and I looked up the author. Ethel Turner was/is known mainly for her children’s work and most especially for

Seven Little Australians 

180px-SevenLittleAustralians16thEdnCvrCover of the 16th edition: 1912 Publisher Ward Lock & Co Illustrations by J. Macfarlane

Born in England in 1870, Ethel Turner came to Australia with her mother and sisters when she was 10 years old. She showed a great love of literature while at school and in her late teens launched a literary and social magazine in Sydney with her sister Lilian.  In January 1893 she recorded in her diary, (which she wrote for 62 years!) “Night started a new story that I shall call Seven Little Australians.”

Since its first printing in 1894, the book has sold over 2 million copies in the English language and has been reprinted over 50 times. It has been translated into at least 11 languages, performed as a stage play, and been made into a film, a BBC television series in 1953, and a 10-episode television series for the ABC in 1973. Ethel Turner went on to write over 40 books in her lifetime, including children’s stories, short stories and poems, many of which appeared in the Town and Country journal and in the Sun Herald newspaper. Seven Little Australians has been read and loved by children all over the world, and it has been continuously in print for over 100 years.

Thanks to Penguin Australia for the bulk of this paragraph of biographical information.

Before you leave take a look at the beautiful post by Editor: Mary McCallum, which features Patrick White, on The Tuesday Poem Hub.

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