2012 Poetry Theme Challenges

#09 Sailing Away

Shiver me timbers it be challenge time again! Be it a cruise on an ocean liner, a paddle steamer on a great river, or a barge on a canal boats seem to capture an air of romance in our imaginations and a sense of tragedy when things go wrong. Arthur Ransome captured a wild spirit of adventure in 'Swallows and Amazons' and even pirates have been given a fantasy image by the likes of Johnny Depp. So for this challenge we are hoisting the main sail me 'earties for poetry about boats, sailing and all things nautical.

Oh Captain! My Captain!

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up-for you the flag is flung-for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths-for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Happy Quilling!


Sailing Away

Cathy Anderson

Sun Sets

Divena Collins

Drunken Sailor
Lost to the Sea

Jem Farmer

A Devon Lass
My Ship
Sea Winds
Wild and Free

Ryter Roethicle

Fantasy Island
Sailors Death

Peter Willowdown

A Rainbow Has Formed

Kathy Anderson

Sun Sets

Sun sets
At end of day
To sail away on dreams
Meditate new schemes upon waves
Sun sets
Every day
Old dreams renew their weft
And tack the breezes as they furl
Sun sets

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Divena Collins

Drunken Sailor

There was a jolly sailor man
His name was Sam Mcphee
His ship was docked at Dover
From a long time out to sea.

Both Sam and his shipmate
Were all geared up for fun
They stepped out in Dover
With their bellies full o`rum.

Sam he was a handsome lad
And did meet a wench to woo
But the ladies in those parts
Were nought they would view.

Now he was taken up with her
And promised he would wed
When she gave her all to him,
He went off to sea instead.

She was left their with child
Barely managed on her own
Praying for that special day
When Sam would come home.

Now two years had gone by
She heard from Sam Mcphee
When he pleaded he was sorry
She was ne'er the wench for he.


Lost to the Sea

On a Scottish isle a woman of past
Sat spinning on her wheel
Spinning the fleece of her sheep to last
While her man stood on the keel.

She had cast her weary eye to sea
Thro` the mist to sight his ship
Will he e're come back home to me
For the sea was rough this trip.

There's many a man has drowned
Many a widow to grieve
As she spun her yarn and frowned
Please God to beg reprieve.

As the thick night mist turned colder
A tear rolled down her cheek
Her shawl wrapped round her shoulder
For it was cold dark and bleak.

She sadly walked towards the shore
The mist was slowly lifting
For she would see her man once more
His ship was homeward drifting.

So knelt down on the land to pray
Tonight they would be together
For she had thought him, many a day
Lost to the sea forever.

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Jem Farmer

A Devon Lass

A Devon lass was Mary Read,
Raised as a lad the pirate queen,
All for her mother's wish to succeed,
To the world a boy was she seen,
Elizabethan trews were her screen,
So male in dress, in thought and deed.
A Devon lass was Mary Read,
Raised as a lad the pirate queen,
Avast, she swapped the widow's weed,
The pirate's code became her scene,
The woman's world that might have been,
A place she felt she didn't need.
A Devon lass was Mary Read,
Raised as a lad the pirate queen.


My Ship

Beneath the deep blue sky, my ship,
Its curving timbers bend and bow,
Upon a mast flapping about,
Are white sails all eager to go.

A voyage over distant seas,
Beneath the deep blue sky, my ship,
The rigging whistling in the wind,
Is music playing to my ears.

For me a life upon the wave,
Oceanic winds my only guide,
Beneath the deep blue sky, my ship,
On its journey around the world.

Ahhh! A brave captain I be
Sending my crew this way and that,
Until mum calls us in for tea,
Beneath the deep blue sky, my ship.


Sea Winds

Gaff rigged she leaves the bay
White sailcloth upon the mast
Captures the breath of wind
As waves chase the tide

Towards the horizon
Gaff rigged she leaves the bay
Billowing with the breeze
She tacks a sailor’s dream

White horses break gently
Upon the fine wooden keel
Gaff rigged she leaves the bay
To find the distant lands.

An in the air there comes
The sound of mermaid song
Echoes of destiny
Gaff rigged she leaves the bay


Wild and Free

There comes a pirate ship a-sailing by,
Its shameless crew all wicked vagabonds,
They sail the seas where’re skull and bones fly,
From near and from far to the great beyond.
Each pirate marked by ink upon his back,
Will make their victims walk the deathly plank,
Their lost souls are blacker than any black,
To all the countless ships their crimes have sank.
Yet should a pirate ever fall in love,
He will treat his dame with gentle measure,
Such beauty his heart has nothing above,
Except, maybe, his lust for his treasure,
On movie screens pirate is wild and free
Not the feared nightmare found from history.

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Ryter Roethicle

Fantasy Island

Let me take you on my ship, to a place where we can live
Our love, our hopes and our dreams. A place where we
Can live in peace, fulfilling our fantasies.
Fantasy Island.

On that island is only pleasure and love
There we will love and make love from wake to sleep
And in that sleep peace will come, the peace only
Love, true love, can bring.

We can stay a week, or a month, perhaps a year
Starting right now close your eyes and feel my kiss
And with that kiss, surrender yourself to me
For Eternity.


Sailors Death

And only the sea shall know them
No wind will tug the wet shrouds hem
The ocean depth will be their grave.
Like a farewell flag, the waters wave.

There is no church with bells to ring
And only the sea shall know them.
No choir with caring hymns to sing
Finally without a padre to say "Amen".

No flowers cover the hallowed site
Nor moon to shine its blessed light.
And only the sea shall know them
There shall be no-one to condemn.

Neptune has claimed them all
And to his bosom they are gone
Till Armageddon makes its call
Then not only the sea shall know them.

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Peter Willowdown

A Rainbow Has Formed

A rainbow has formed over the Sea.
Down it numberless prismatic Angels are streaming,
diving joyfully and flamboyantly into the waves
to rescue the souls of drowned sailors
where they rot and repine in Davy Jones' Locker.

How long have I lain here on this kelp-festooned Sea-bed with only fish and crustaceans for company, where the only lights in heaven are the eerie gleaming eye-stalks of hideous, near-blind predators that would happily gnaw the flesh from my bones if the Sea, and their countless carniverous cousins had not already done so two centuries ago? I long to walk again in green and sunlit fields and smell the new Spring grass excite my senses and soul. I yearn to feel the early morning sunlight upon my hands and neck and watch with timeless delight as brightly coloured butterflies skip from flower to flower, intoxicated with heaven-infused dews, drunk on decoctions of pollen skilfully manufactured through arcane alchemy of sun and rain and time, to feel a gentle breeze that sets young trees to dancing and calls forth songs of pride and simple ravishment from tiny birds' taut throats. O simple daisies and marigolds, I dream of you as an incarcerated lover dreams of his sweetheart. Dandelion and bramble, my phantom heart weeps for the simple sight of you sitting sweetly in a field of emerald weeds or housing little creatures in a thousand intricate hedgerows. But the only breeze that blows through my spare and fleshless bones are the dark and timeless currents of the Sea's submerged rivers on which my own lament is but a tiny bubble of song bandied about with leisurely malice, with that of all my drowned brothers and their Captains as we rail against the Ocean and the foolishness that made us first set sweet and dainty foot to beguiling and treacherous plank.

It is two hundred and four years and thirty-seven days since the Golden Hesperides last set sail from Portsmouth, bound for the Molucca's. I had brought myself a brand-new tri-corn hat for the voyage, decorated with little lozenges of mother-of-pearl and a glittering Peacock's feather. My sweetheart said I looked like a dandy as she pressed her lips to mine and squeezed my manly arm. Now she rots in good clean soil and her soul, perhaps, has ascended to Heaven, where even chattering barrow-girls with rosy-apple cheeks and careless tongues are welcome; whereas I have long since mouldered on the dank Sea-floor, but still remain, a prisoner, behind the cold, gleaming white bones of my own rib-cage. Nor do I have the dubious privilege om spending my incarceration alone: a family of eels has made its nest in what used to be my chest, and in the small round caves that used to house my eyes a tiny squid has taken up temporary residence next to something I do not know the name for. They are not great conversationalists.

But not everything is unrelieved gloom; not one hundred and twenty-six years ago I acquired a companion with whom to share my morbid reminiscences (there is little else to do here on the bleak, un-lit Sea-bed), a young boy, Tom, former cabin-boy to the Silver Apples of the Moon (a whimsical name for a ship!), who lost his life not to the false and perfidious trickery of the waves but to his own boyish curiousity. It had been his first voyage to warm and tropical seas and he was excited by the sight and sounds of what he took to be a school of young mermaids swimming alongside the Silver Apples of the Moon. As it was it was merely a group of highly inquisitive young porpoises who, for their part, had probably never seen a handsome young cabin-boy like Tom before. Delighted by their friendly fluttering song, young Tom leaned too far over the rails and joined his erstwhile friends in a proximity closer than that wholly desirable. By the time he'd gained his wits the Silver Apples of the Moon. was a good half league away and nobody would miss young Tom for several hours to come. Listen! there he is now, singing a little ditty I taught him:

"Boomers break and Sea-dogs quake
and leap on old tin-legs,
and monsoon winds make lanterns shake
and rip good sails to shreds.

I never thought in Portsmouth town
I'd be as one unwilling to down a jug of good thick rum
or rue that thoughtful April day
I took the good King's shilling.

But boomers break against bleak rocks
and carve fantastic shapes
of monsters that might seem to mock
the Gods with sculpted japes -

I swear I saw a human face
carved by the wind and waves
peer from a headland tall and high
and crowned with dark grey cloud

and thick lips seemed about to speak
to warn us of some peril:
but then the heaving boomers broke
and bore us to the Devil!

Boomers break and Sea-dogs quake
and leap on old tin-legs,
and monsoon winds make lanterns shake
and rip good sails to shreds.

Should ever I meet Davy Jones
upon the Ocean floor
I'll smash each window in his house
and rattle his front door.

The scoudrel took my life from me
without a by-your-leave
when I was but twelve years and four
and thirsty for much more;

I'd spit into that damned rogues eyes
and curse his family line
and sew the cutlass mark I'd leave
across his guts with twine

- and in his guts I'd place the stone
my sweetheaert gave to me
when last I kissed her fine red lips
in church of Coventry.

But now the only bells I hear
are ringing 'neath the Sea
and Davy Jones has stole my ring
without a by-your-leave..."

He's a good lad, Tom, but his main concerns are marbles and his old dog Tozer - not enough really to occupy the mind of a man whose flesh fell off his bones two hundred years ago but still thrills to the thought of a pint of Old Rusted Anchor, or the sight of a well-turned ankle...
Ah, but why do I torment myself with such beautiful and savage memories, when the last ankle I saw was that of our cantankerous old bo's'n floating past in a swirl of crimson, whilst the rest of him was rapidly disappearing down the hungry maw of a shark, when the last eight pints I drank were nowt but the foaming salt sea-water that drowned me, with bits and pieces of me crewmates a'floating in it like bits of discarded pork saltings dribbled from a sea-dogs chin.
But hark! what be all that commotion of colour above young dead Tom's skull like a flurry of wind-blown petals settling to the sea-bed? What faery wind is blowing in the Deep this way?
Blow me if it ain't a packet of Angels with spears and halos and harps and look you, one of 'ems my own sweet Nell from Coventry with rosy apples still in her cheeks and wings upon her back like a cherub in the cathedral!
Is that really you, old Nell? - have you come to rescue me and young Tom from a life of fleshless damnation beneath the ocean waves?

And is that young Tom's dog Tozer a'yapping at your heels?
Who'll be looking after your barrow in Heaven today, my Nellie?
Come here and let me hug you, wings and all, and plant a dead mans kissupon your bright red lips...

A rainbow has formed over the Sea.
Down it numberless prismatic Angels are streaming,
diving joyfully and flamboyantly into the waves
to rescue the souls of drowned sailors
where they rot and repine in Davy Jones' Locker.

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