Posted by Edward Coppinger in Features.

Dark is the night and the moon asleep
In an empty dock it’s a lonely beat,
Eerily quiet the abandoned quay
With an icy wind that has no lee.

The cranes are silent all ships long gone,
No one seeing passengers off or on,
No more boat trains with passengers full,
No famous liners with black hulls.

Gone the loco engines hissing steam
And railway lines with a silver gleam,
Where thousands used to disembark or sail
By stacked cargo and bags of mail.

The rusting lines with grass so green
Where proudly moored great ocean queens,
Here was once worked night and day,
Now decadent with terminal sad decay.

Where was heard all tongues on earth
So badly blighted by the kiss of death,
How proud we were of the famous Docks
That now is home to the prowling fox.

Emigrant ships bound ‘down under’
Their sirens goodbye loud as thunder,
We saw the tears hidden by smiles,
On a voyage of eight thousand miles.

History was made along them quays
By departing armies and refugees.
When half a million left for war,
And twice that number returned no more.

Once again I’m back on my old beat
And smelling cargo that’s bitter sweet,
If only it could be like it once had been—
Now just an old man’s recurring dream.

Edward Coppinger

Note: The Author was a policeman in Southampton Docks in the great years. Part of the Port was sold off in the seventies and eighties for development. Black hulls was the livery of the United States Lines, French Lines and Cunard etc. Modern cruise liners use different berths.