new sea poem
- worked up a nautical bit of a poem, and wanted it a bit different so it's from the perspective of a lighthouse keeper. It's set in the 1500's in Ireland.
As always, commentary and suggestions are welcomed. I'm working up a batch of stuff for Gulf Wars 20 and Pennsics, so Ill post more here in the next week or so.
The Sinking of the Carrie-Anne
Twas in the dark of the night and the cold candlelight
While the storm raged out on the lee
And my bonny wee wife who shared my life
Was there on those long nights with me
For a lighthouseman's nights are marked by the light
That shines out from the towers tall lens
And his day is all wrong, from dusk until dawn
No daylight he sees for his sins.
A luckier man was never born in this life
When she went with me across the kirks floor
For a lighthouseman's life is loneliness and work
And held slave to the rocky sea shore
A fine little wife, her hair so red and so fine
She was a wee thing and so small of hand
And we worked that light together each night -
Till the stormy night of the doomed Carrie - Anne
So it was on that cold night, the upper light bright
And we listened while the wind howled and sung
When over its cry we heard the hard sounds
The sounds made by the caravels guns
For the storm took its toll, in sailcloth and men
A toll that's always paid to the sea
And the Carrie-Anne was foundered, pressed on the shoals
Aground on the point of the lee
Her bowsprit held high, pointed to the heavens
Hard on the rocks her keel had been dashed,
Broken in two and her deck was awash
Her foremast was gone, her mizzen was smashed.
Twenty brave souls were aboard her then
Three more had been washed out to sea
As they sounded the guns and made for their boats
Their lives fell to Mary and me
She ran up the tower and sounded the bell
So the sailormen would know that we heard.
And I got out the oilskins, the ropes and the corks
And we went into the storm with never a word.
We threw on our oilskins and slung on our ropes,
Grapnels and lanterns held high
And we crossed that beach out onto the rocks
While the wind made our cloaks fly.
We knew the shore well, in fair weather or foul
We walked it nigh at least twice a day
And from below the lighthouse and against the west side
Was the dingy docked at the quay.
Into the boat we leapt, tackle and all
We oared hard against the seas grasp.
As the caravel groaned and the cruel waves pounded
The Carrie-Anne was going down fast
I worked at the oars with Mary in the bow
And the Carrie-Anne's longboat was away
But on a masthead clung, being swept out to sea
Were three men soon for a watery grave.
Now don't let lubbers fool you, for they don't know
What all keepers and sailormen ken -
That the sea is a beauty, a mystery to love
But fickle and hungry for men
Mary flung her grapnels far and true,
They flew to the full length of her ropes
And those sailors all cheered and heaved on it sure
For she had in flinging returned them their hope.
But as she cleated the ropes the seas swelled hard
The ropes parted from out the men's grasp
And I bore hard on my oars to pull nearer still
As the grapnels pulled loose from the mast.
She kissed me then, all salty and wet,
Her eyes alight though her face was set firm.
"I love you, dear" was all that she said
And she stepped past me and jumped over the stern.
She swam hard as she could, like a fish in a pond
As if the waves weren't dashing and growling
And taking that rope she swam to the men
And tied them off with the winds howling.
She tied them off sure and tight as could be
And the mast I took into tow
When suddenly a great wave swelled like a beast
And came down and dealt a cruel blow.
It pushed us ashore, the dinghy capsized on the rocks
And as I beached I pulled the mast in
But when the waves washed it up on the shore
Twas naught but mast and men.
Rough handled they'd been, half drowned to a man
But they went with me as we tried not to tarry
But we all knew, as sailormen must
That the sea had taken my Mary.
We searched that beach when the longboat was ashore
For three days after the storm had expired
The town's fishermen for days went out in their boats
But eventually the search was retired.
Ne'er again did I see my bonny wee lass
Or feel the soft touch of her hand
For the sea took her as price for those men
That sailed on the poor Carrie-Anne.
Of that ship is naught but the barrels
Or driftwood that comes ashore with the tide
And like the saltwater that laps these shores
Are the many lonely tears I have cried.
We raised a small stone, years ago on the point
So long ago it seems like a dream.
And the sailormen one and all of that ill-fated ship
Raised a cross there from one of its beams
Inscribed on that cross, faded by weather,
Carved deep in the wood with their hands
Are the words: "Mary O'Hanlon, always remembered-
The Captain and Crew of Carrie-Anne"
Once a year, for many long years they all still come
Now often bringing their children and wives
To put out flowers or wreaths that wash out to sea
And give thanks to Mary for saving their lives
But grey haired I sit, after all of these years,
I sit, smoke my pipe and stare at the sea
And I stay here manning the lighthouse still
Alone on the point of the lee
The lighthouse is silent; it seems cold as a grave
The sea is colder now; the nights are all grim
And tomorrow they will be coming again
And together at the cross, the grass there we'll trim.
And we'll all look out to sea, as the flowers wash out
And remember Mary as we all hold our hands
As the sailors children sing hymns, to remember that night
The night the storm sank the Carrie- Anne.
I remember my Mary, the only wife I will have
Who I remember as I walk the beach at high tide
Because there will yet come I pray God the day
When I will again stand by my bonny wife's side.
And always I think on that simple cold fact
What all keepers and sailormen ken -
That the sea is a beauty, a mystery to love,
But fickle and hungry for men.