Home          Why?         What?         How?         Tender        Cettia        Articles       Poems         Links         Contact
    
old gaffer
Poems

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.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional

Tender

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.

Top of Page

lesley





My Boat

A bird
on the flashing water,
swift,
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.


Never
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.


Top of Page