Cargoes

I’ve been writing happily for the last few weeks but not very efficiently for my Inn, mostly because I’ve been finding it difficult to allocate my time properly.  I work on my stories, or I write in a journal, or I write letters to my friends, and sometimes I forget to write on here.  So today, even though I don’t have enough time at the moment to write anything much, I thought I would pass on a small poem, the second of the twelve I am attempting to learn by heart this year.

It’s called 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, amethysts,
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-rail, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.
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2 thoughts on “Cargoes

  1. Do you know, I was thinking it only did one thing, too, but then I started thinking about what lies behind the contrasts in it: Why Nineveh, of all places in the ancient world? And Spanish galleons: they both make me think of gold and grandeur, but also the incredible barbarism of the people, and the slavery and misery that lay beneath the opulence and beauty and romance. Whereas the British steamers are ugly and full of ugly things; yet at least the attempt was (and is) being made to be available to all, not just the rich and noble. But yet the one is ugly and the others beautiful in results . . . .

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