Now off to the pub.....
Being bored this Easter Sunday I thought I would type up a couple of
poems for the List. I have thought Padraic Fallon's a great poem since
I first saw it in PN Review many years ago. It haunts me. So I put it
beside the great James Elroy Flecker on a similar theme. I wanted a third
poem to complete the triptych but couldnt think of one offhand so I insert
one of my own as finale.
"Argo left" by Padraic Fallon
Up river, silting over, dies
The crestfallen craft, the global outrigger
Shelved and forgotten,
Concerned no more with large affairs
In this world or another;
And no one knows exactly where.
The shag can perch upon a wooden head
That once upon a time was rampant god
And no accomplice to mere matter.
This sailor had its living furniture,
Heroes in trim,
Before the flag died on the flagstaff and
The sea forgot to swim
And the rainbow went back into the water.
Friends, what happened? Is the halo of the martyr
No headgear for a man?
Will nobody carry on, be blind
And deaf to all save a mad prompting when
The reason for the trumpets lies behind?
"The Old Ships" by James Elroy Flecker
I have seen old ships sail like swans asleep
Beyond the village which me still call Tyre,
With leaden age o'ercargoed, dipping deep
For Famagusta and the hidden sun
That rings black Cyprus with a lake of fire;
And those ships were certainly so old
Who knows how oft with squat and noisy gun,
Questing brown slaves or Syrian oranges,
The pirates Genoese
Hell-raked them till they rolled
Blood, water, fruit and corpses up the hold.
But now through friendly seas they softly run,
Painted the mid-sea blue or shore-sea green,
Still patterned with the vine and grapes in gold.
But I have seen,
Pointing her shapely shadows from the dawn
And image tumbled on a rose-swept bay,
A drowsy ship of some yet older day;
And, wonder's breath indrawn,
Thought I -- who knows -- who knows -- but in that same
(Fished up beyond Aeaea, patched up new
-- Stern painted brighter blue --)
That talkative, bald-headed seaman came
(Twelve patient comrades sweating at the oar)
>From Troy's doom-crimson shore,
And with great lies about his wooden horse
Set the crew laughing, and forgot his course.
It was so old a ship -- who knows, who knows?
-- And yet so beautiful, I watched in vain
To see the mast burst open with a rose,
And the whole deck put on its leaves again.
"Citadel" by Douglas Clark
The grey ships are pulling out on the dawn tide.
The grey ships are leaving.
You sit in your citadel by the sea
Watching the grey ships leaving.
The city is burning all around you
Buildings crashing down, men dying
And the fighters are leaving.
Grey ships slipping out to sea on the morning tide,
The fighters are leaving.
As you sit in your citadel by the sea
Grey ships leaving.
The barbarians are over the wall
There are men dying
And the city is burning.
You weave your patterns on the page
Recording details of grand events
Watching the fighters leaving.
The barbarians are in your citadel
They took your heart long years ago
As you sat in your citadel weaving,
And the fighters are leaving.
Grey ships pull out on the dawn tide
Sliding swiftly over the sea
While you sit in your citadel
I climb on the last ship and wave goodbye,
Sorry I couldnt think of a third poem. My kettle has boiled dry while I
have been typing this up but apart from a smell of raw plastic and
steamed-up windows all is ok. I am listening to a John MacCormack CD
to try and track down the lines:
I saw a lady passing by
And I will love her till I die
I cant remember the song. Must be Tom Moore. If anybody knows please
And I should add that James Elroy Flecker is only great for three poems.