When the cabin port-holes are dark and green

(notes by Philip Holberton)


First published in Just So Stories for little children, 1902, following the story “How the Whale got his Throat” . Listed in ORG as No. 789.

Also collected in:

  • Inclusive verse (1919)
  • Definitive Verse (1940)
  • The Sussex Edition vol xiii and xxxiv (1939)
  • The Burwash Edition vol xii and xxvii (1941)
  • The Cambridge Edition (2013) Ed. Pinney, p. 890

The poem

This verse tells what it is like on a liner in stormy weather in the North Atlantic. The seas (waves) are so high that they cover and darken the port-holes; the steward (who is one of the crew and should be used to rough weather) falls into the tureen (basin) of soup he is bringing to the table; the ship is rolling enough to make the trunks (luggage) slide across the cabin floor; Nursey and Mummy only want to lie down and neither of them is looking after you.

Fifty North and Forty West: short for Latitude Fifty Degrees North and Longitude Forty Degrees West. In her Notes to the story, Lisa Lewis places this

roughly 550 miles east-north-east of St. John’s, Newfoundland, a deep-water area between the Grand Banks (scene of R.K’s Captains Courageous) and the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

©Philip Holberton 2017 All rights reserved