Sunday, June 22, 2014

Tuesday Poem - Cargoes by John Masefield


Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.
Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amythysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.
Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

Because I am reading 'Now All Roads Lead To France' by Matthew Hollis,
which is about the last years of Edward Thomas, my mind has turned back
to the poets of that time. Edward Thomas seemed to be right in the thick
of the scene, (he reviewed poetry before he began writing it himself -
encouraged on by Robert Frost, who was visiting England with his family),
and all the poets I have ever heard of from that time are in the book. 
Walter de la Mare, Eleanor Farjeon, Yeats, Pound, Abercrombie 
Lascelles etc etc, and Masefield.
'Cargoes' is a poem I came upon at a very young age, and liked very 
 much, I became almost drunk on the sound of the words and the beating
 rhythm, and that final triumphant shout of – 'cheap tin trays'! In my found 
object art making stage I did a piece called 'Cheap Tin Tray”. I've chosen 
'Cargoes' this week because I thought maybe these days the work of 
Masefield and his ilk are not so easily come across. Maybe some people 
don't know it.

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