A note on reading this poem:
Please don't try to force this poem into a rhythm. While I admit
that I used one as a framework when I wrote it, it's only loosely connected
to that skeleton. Instead, I recommend you read it as you would read
prose, remembering that, as the sea rolls smoothly, so must poetry.
O Give Me a Ship
O give me a ship! O’er the ocean I’ll slip,
with a foaming-froth wake at my back.
‘Tween the blue of the sky and the green of the sea,
with sails full of air, never slack,
I’ll cut through the waves. As the deck gently sways,
and the salty wind blows in my face,
the stars in the sky will be my guides,
smiling above me from space.
Then up comes the sun, and the day has begun
in a fiery, blazing red dawn.
Then it climbs in the sky ‘till it’s gotten quite high,
and now the day is half gone.
Then downward it sinks, as if seeking a drink
from the mossy green hills of the sea,
Until, out of sight, it is gone, and it’s night,
and the stars once again shine on me.
As gulls soar and wheel overhead, dolphins squeal
and leap up in showers of spray.
Giant whales flash from the deep, and then crash
back into the water again.
Shimmering shoals of bright fish below
dance in a graceful ballet.
As they whirl and they spin, a dolphin cuts in,
and the little fish scatter away.
Sometimes at night, if conditions are right,
and I happen to look from the stern,
I see a light trail, very dim, very pale,
of light where no fire can burn.
My ship, as it sails, is making that trail
by stirring up plankton below.
And so I sail on, straight on until dawn,
surrounded by that eerie glow.
O give me a ship! Through wavetops I’ll slip,
with the salty-sharp wind in my hair.
‘Tween the green of the sea and the blue of the sky,
and the sails full and catching the air.
With the moon and the stars shining through the dark hours,
and the sun shining all through the day,
I’ll spend all my days with the wind and the waves,
sailing forever, away.