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Here are two poems by the award-winning poet Lesley Saunders. One was specially written for the launch of the tender for Swing Cat on 17th October 2010. The other is Lesley's translation of the famous poem by Catullus - My Boat. Below are some of my favourite poems to do with the sea and sailing. There is Sea Fever by John Masefield, Crossing the Bar by Alfred Lord Tennyson,Casabianca by Felicia Hemansand another by John Masefield, Cargoes.

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It's the sky's reflection in the grey gaze
of the sea, the mile-deep look of love
    you'd cross a freezing ocean for, the eyes

of all those you'll remember. It's a feather
of gathering cloud, the year's first plumage
    or its last leaves, restless as birds before

the great winter voyage. It's the penny
you touch for luck before you embark,
    it's the skin of your teeth, it's an offer

that won't be refused, the rising breeze
in the evening, the shivery rushes of water
    that born things drown in. It's the faint

taste of salt that will be with you all the way
like the sound of your name in our minds
    or the steady arrow of geese overhead.

But tenderer still was the feel of the wood
giving in to the curve, turning to sinew and flow,
    and the hull growing hollow with yearning.

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Sea Fever by John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray dawn breaking.

I must down go to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

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Stormy Weather

Casabianca by Felicia Hemans

The boy stood on the burning deck
    Whence all but he had fled;
The flame that lit the battle's wreck
    Shone round him o'er the dead.

Yet beautiful and bright he stood,

     As born to rule the storm;

 A creature of heroic blood,
    A proud, though child-like form.

The flames rolled on–he would not go
    Without his Father's word;

 That father, faint in death below,

     His voice no longer heard.

He called aloud–'say, Father, say
    If yet my task is done?'

 He knew not that the chieftain lay
    Unconscious of his son.

'Speak, father!' once again he cried,

     'If I may yet be gone!'

 And but the booming shots replied,
    And fast the flames rolled on.

Upon his brow he felt their breath,

     And in his waving hair,

 And looked from that lone post of death
    In still yet brave despair.

And shouted but once more aloud,

     'My father! must I stay?'

 While o'er him fast, through sail and shroud,
    The wreathing fires made way.

They wrapt the ship in splendour wild,

     They caught the flag on high,

 And streamed above the gallant child,

     Like banners in the sky.

There came a burst of thunder sound–
    The boy–oh! where was he?
Ask of the winds that far around
    With fragments strewed the sea!–

With mast, and helm, and pennon fair,

     That well had borne their part–

 But the noblest thing which perished there
    Was that young faithful heart.


My Boat
A bird
on the flashing water,
swifter than anything afloat,
she left 'em all standing!

Look, friends, look now
on this boat
(my boat) -
and listen to what she says:

'Shore of the glooming Adriatic,
shining Cyclades and pillared Rhodes,
the bluster in the Dardanelles,
the Black Sea
and his black savage bays,
witnesses all
to my quicksilver flight.

Before my ribs
turned to gunwales
I stood in a wood,
branches swaying,
my leaves
sibilant mouths whispering
green secrets
at the wind.
Oh Amastris, Cytorus,
where the boxwood
still coifs the ridge,
you remember me -

from sparked seed
I grew to fullness
on your cliffs,
first dipped oar
in your green-glass waves.
I cradled my captain
through numberless seas,
over surging singing surf,
tacking fast first port
then starboard
then running straight
as the sky-god
wheeled round and favoured me.

to the shore-gods
gave sacrifice for safety,
not I!
I rode high in all weathers
and out on the farthest ocean
fear never felled me.'

All this is past,
her time is come
and gone.
She'll grow old here
on this unruffled lake,
drowse and dream in anchored age,
then give herself to you at last,
brother-gods, sky-twins
who watch on every crew and craft.

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sunsett off Islay

Crossing the Bar by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Sunset and evening star
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.

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battle of Trafalgar
battle of Trafalgar from mizzen mast

Cargoes by John Masefield

Quinquereme 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, amythysts,
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.

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