Thursday, October 15, 2015



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-rails, pig-lead,
               Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

I was sitting in my car Tuesday evening, waiting for class time, when this train went by in front of me. As I took pictures, this poem of Masefield's came to mind.

My fondness for Masefield's poetry marks me as hopelessly old-fashioned. (I first met him when young and impressionable and reading my mother's college textbooks from the Thirties.) But what a word lover he is! And I'm a sucker for a good beat.


Ms. A said...

Perfect for your photos!

Barbara Rogers said...

What form of poetry cadence is the rhythm of train wheels along tracks? Yes!

Jim Egerton said...

Thanks again Vicki, I just Wikipediaed Mr. Masefield. What a wonderful productive life of poems and books. He has the beat down on the restless heart. What trains carry today resemble the English cargo not the Persian cargo.

Frances said...

Vicki, aren't our minds full of surprises. To have those spare moments before your class, to have your camera with you and see the train pass by, and to remember this very fine poem, make such a beautiful circle. Thank you also for kindly sharing this experience with us.

Truly lovely autumn gift. xo

Stella Jones said...

... And I love the graffiti on the train.

jennyfreckles said...

Oh, we used to sing that in music lessons in school. Someone obviously put it to music. I loved the rhythm of it... 'dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smokestack'.

jennyfreckles said...

Ooh, just found someone singing it on YouTube too! [Google 'Cargoes Masefield song'] I remember it as slightly more lyrical, sung by a choir, but it had a wonderfully fast last verse and an abrupt ending that we loved!

Martin Hodges said...

Box of Delights has been a seasonal favourite with us, for many years.