"Eyes In The Boat!"

So let’s see one of R.E. Swartwout’s light poems that HTBS wrote about the other day. Swartwout, who was a constant contributor to The Granta, the Cambridge undergraduate’s magazine, published his Rhymes of the River in 1927. Here is one of his poems,

The Bicycle

From age to age we change our ways;
We must turn History’s course back
If we would seek the nobler days
When coaches rode on horseback.

Of course, we may at any time
Observe at our discretion
Sir Henry* riding by sublime,
Head of a proud procession;

But riding prancing, snorting bays
Is not much the liking
Of those who coach in Lents or Mays-
The mostly stick to biking.

O push-bike, what a help are you
In tow-path demonstrations,
Explaining to each budding Blue
The coach’s inculcations!

“Observe how with a rapid poke
I keep this bike-wheel spinning;
That’s what I mean, my worthy stroke,
By getting the beginning.”

And if he has a proper lack
Of feeling, he’ll exclaim,
“Bow, the roundness of your back
Would put this wheel to shame!”

A certain coach one time I knew
Who was forever shouting,
“Eyes in the boat!” until his crew
Dreaded the daily outing;

His really thoughtful two-wheeled steed
Threw him, by Baitsbite Locks;
When he emerged, all mud and week,
“Eyes in the boat!” cried cox.

* Sir Henry Howard, the well-known Trail Eight and lady Margaret coach. It is perhaps unnecessary to explain that “Eyes in the boat” as a means of attracting attention to something on the bank is a venerable joke on the Cam.

R.E. Swartwout
(Cox in Cambridge’s winning 1930 crew)

See also No. 15 on the following link.

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