Thursday, April 30, 2009

poem in your pocket day

Today (the last day of National Poetry Month) is Poem in Your Pocket Day, a day to share poetry however you see fit. I had a hard time choosing a poem for today, which is kind of surprising, as I'm not really a huge poetry person. I decided to go with an old family favorite. It was in a poetry book that belonged to my great-grandmother. When my mom was a kid, she and her siblings would read the poem whenever they visited Memere's and when Mem passed away, my mom inherited the book, and would often share this (and other) poems with us. This is one we all loved. I'm not really sure why, maybe the fact that we got to say "Oh Christ!" when reading it, or maybe because of the gruesome picture of a hand reaching up out of the water, with a drop of blood hanging off its finger (the picture below, Inchcape Rock by Gerry Lazare, isn't the exact one from the book, but it's pretty close). Regardless, to this day if you say to anyone in my family "Oh Christ!" they'll reply "It is the Inchcape Rock!" This poem isn't very fancy or sophisticated or modern. It just tells a story; it doesn't really have any deep meaning, but it's kind of fun and I like it, so I'm going to share it. And so without further ado, I present

Inchcape Rock by Robert Southey

No stir in the air, no stir in the sea,
The Ship was still as she could be;
Her sails from heaven received no motion,
Her keel was steady in the ocean.

Without either sign or sound of their shock,
The waves flow’d over the Inchcape Rock;
So little they rose, so little they fell,
They did not move the Inchcape Bell.

The holy Abbot of Aberbrothok
Had placed that bell on the Inchcape Rock;
On a buoy in the storm it floated and swung,
And over the waves its warning rung.

When the Rock was hid by the surge’s swell,
The Mariners heard the warning Bell;
And then they knew the perilous Rock,
And blest the Abbot of Aberbrothok

The Sun in the heaven was shining gay,
All things were joyful on that day;
The sea-birds scream’d as they wheel’d round,
And there was joyaunce in their sound.

The buoy of the Inchcpe Bell was seen
A darker speck on the ocean green;
Sir Ralph the Rover walk’d his deck,
And fix’d his eye on the darker speck.

He felt the cheering power of spring,
It made him whistle, it made him sing;
His heart was mirthful to excess,
But the Rover’s mirth was wickedness.

His eye was on the Inchcape Float;
Quoth he, “My men, put out the boat,
And row me to the Inchcape Rock,
And I’ll plague the Abbot of Aberbrothok.”

The boat is lower’d, the boatmen row,
And to the Inchcape Rock they go;
Sir Ralph bent over from the boat,
And he cut the bell from the Inchcape Float.

Down sank the Bell with a gurgling sound,
The bubbles rose and burst around;
Quoth Sir Ralph, “The next who comes to the Rock,
Won’t bless the Abbot of Aberbrothok.”

Sir Ralph the Rover sail’d away,
He scour’d the seas for many a day;
And now grown rich with plunder’d store,
He steers his course for Scotland’s shore.

So thick a haze o’erspreads the sky,
They cannot see the sun on high;
The wind hath blown a gale all day,
At evening it hath died away.

On the deck the Rover takes his stand,
So dark it is they see no land.
Quoth Sir Ralph, “It will be lighter soon,
For there is the dawn of the rising Moon.”

“Canst hear,” said one, “the breakers roar?
For methinks we should be near the shore.”
“Now, where we are I cannot tell,
But I wish we could hear the Inchcape Bell.”

They hear no sound, the swell is strong,
Though the wind hath fallen they drift along;
Till the vessel strikes with a shivering shock,
“Oh Christ! It is the Inchcape Rock!”

Sir Ralph the Rover tore his hair,
He curst himself in his despair;
The waves rush in on every side,
The ship is sinking beneath the tide.

But even is his dying fear,
One dreadful sound could the Rover hear;
A sound as if with the Inchcape Bell,
The Devil below was ringing his knell.
. . . . .

Also, I'd like to say thanks, Amy for making me read some poetry this month- it is kind of fun, and for posting some great poems to your blog- while raising three kids single-handedly no less!