Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Sea Song by Allan Cunningham

A Sea Song

A wet sheet and a flowing sea,
A wind that follows fast
And fills the white and rustling sail
And bends the gallant mast;
And bends the gallant mast, my boys,
While like the eagle free
Away the good ship flies, and leaves
Old England on the lee.

O for a soft and gentle wind!
I heard a fair one cry;
But give to me the snoring breeze
And white waves heaving high;
And white waves heaving high, my lads,
The good ship tight and free—
The world of waters is our home,
And merry men are we.

There’s tempest in yon horne´d moon,
And lightning in yon cloud;
But hark the music, mariners!
The wind is piping loud;
The wind is piping loud, my boys,
The lightning flashes free—
While the hollow oak our palace is,
Our heritage the sea.
--Allan Cunningham

I found this poem two or three years ago in a book I got for a dime at a library book sale. I liked the picture of a ship on the dust jacket, and intended to cut it out and stick it to one of the side panels of my loft bed where I had lots of other pictures of ships (my pride and joy being a very large version of this one that I got from a store in New Zealand). Anyway, after I cannibalized the cover, I looked inside the book. Nothing really stood out except this poem, which I also cut out and attached to my bed.

I reminds me of how in the Aubrey-Maturin books, Jack loves to drive the ship before a gale. The words Cunningham chooses really give the sense of the exhilaration of the wind singing in the rigging and the waves racing along the side. I want to go sailing.

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