“All the unhappiness of men,” wrote Blase Pascal, the 17th-century French philosopher, “arises from one single fact, that they cannot stay quietly in their own chamber.” The statement rings true especially in today’s hyperconnected world. Many people hate to be alone. They feel a constant need to be in the company of others, even if only virtually through their smartphones and social media.
Death comes in myriad ways to both men and ships. Some ships meet their end through an act of God; others, because of human folly. Many succumb to old age.
Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). is the foundational document for all human rights laws, including ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006. Any discussion on the rights of seafarers and other maritime workers must hark back to it. So how has the shipping world fared in observing its tenets?
Flogging and other harsh shipboard punishments may be a thing of the past, but it would be naive to think that it’s the best of times for seafarers. A litany of sins is still being committed against them — some blatant, others subtle. Major changes in existing laws as well as societal values are in order.
Paintings of the pilot boats of yesteryear can be a great visual delight. The grace and energy of these small sailing vessels as they brave the waves make one think of a ballet at sea. Such artworks, however, are also a reminder of the challenges and dangers faced by maritime pilots even today as they perform their duties.
“They don’t make them like they used to.” The clichéd expression does not only apply to consumer goods. It is true as well for modern-day love songs, many of which are full of platitudes and paltry emotions. In contrast, the romantic ballads of old usually told a narrative and often used poetic language.
Anita Malfatti occupies a special place in the history of Brazilian art. She was the first Brazilian painter to introduce Modernism to Brazil. In a country so used to old forms of realistic art, she ushered in the brave new world of Expressionism, defined by Tate UK as “art in which the image of reality is distorted in order to make it expessive of the artist’s inner feelings or ideas”.
Unless one is an atheist, it seems natural for people facing imminent death in a tempestuous sea to turn to God for help. In the following pair of poems, faith comes to the fore as humans grapple with their mortality…
The Titan submersible that imploded on 18th June 2023, killing all five of its passengers, has led to voluminous talk about what exactly happened and why. While many of the published accounts are interesting, I wanted to get a different perspective on the mishap. And what better source for this than Frankie?
Salty water covers much of the earth’s surface, and salt has been a part of the diet of humans since time immemorial. So why wouldn’t the word “salt” find its way into the world of English idioms?
Retirement can be tough on body and spirit. To be cut off from the workaday world and former colleagues can be jarring. It can usher in a period of loneliness, stress and anxiety. For some folks, however, to retire is to embark on a new voyage in calmer seas. It is a time of personal freedom, peace and self-fulfillment.
It does not have the dramatic flair of Ezra Pound’s translation of The Seafarer nor the lyricism of John Masefield’s Sea-Fever. Yet, The Indifferent Mariner by American poet Arthur Macy (1842-1904) is compelling in its own right. Consisting of seven stanzas of four lines each, the poem paints an unvarnished portrait of a mariner.