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A powerful poem about the sea and the seagoing life

I have sometimes wondered: how many choose to be seafarers, not just for the money, but for love of the sea and the seagoing life? Like the ocean tide, the question rose up again in my mind when I recently came across a poem by Edward Clement Cruttwell (1888–1938), a Royal Navy lieutenant who served in World War I.

The last farewell: Four memorable sailor poems

I have known a number of old salts who are no longer around. They have made their final voyage. To them I dedicate the following poems which are memorable on account of their moving imagery and heartfelt words. I trust that others will be touched as well by these beautiful verses.

‘The Wellerman’: A version that beats others hands down

The 1830s New Zealand whaling song ‘The Wellerman’ (full title: ‘Soon May the Wellerman Come’) has been interpreted by many artists. Obviously the most popular version is by Scottish singer Nathan Evans, whose upbeat rendition went viral on TikTok in late 2020. But a talented singer-musician from Canada, in my view, blows the rest of the pack out of the water.

Some juicy facts about The Banana Boat Song

The popularity of The Banana Boat Song (aka ‘Day-O’) seems not to have waned a bit since Harry Belafonte recorded it in 1956. The calypso craze may have died down, but this traditional Jamaican folk song looks destined to live forever. Belafonte’s version has been downloaded more than 14,000 times from Marine Café Blog.

Hymn to the Pilot: A poem written by a harbour pilot

A maritime pilot from Morocco recently sent me a poem entitled ‘Hymne au Pilote’ (Hymn to the Pilot). It’s not everyday that one comes across a pilot who writes poetry, so I thought I should share the piece with the readers of Marine Café Blog.

The author’s name is Mohammed Rida El Mariky, a senior pilot at Tangier Med Complex. He has 14 years pf pilotage experience in various Moroccan port and holds a Ph.D in Admiralty Law from the prestigious Paul Cézanne Faculty, Aix-en-Provence, France. He has published a collection of short stories (‘L’Odeur du luzin’) as well as a collection of poems (‘Les mot qui tanguen’)

The Wellerman song & the bloody business of whaling

It comes as no surprise that millions have been hooked on the whaling song ‘The Wellerman’. The tune is bouncy and the lyrics have a quaint charm: “Soon may the wellerman come/ To bring us sugar and tea and rum/ One day, when the tonguin’ is done/ We’ll take our leave and go”. But behind this viral song dating back to the 19th century lies the savage and bloody world of whaling.

River romance: The Seine in poetry, song and painting

The Seine River in France runs for 780 kilometres (485 miles) — shorter than the country’s longest river, the Loire (1,020 kilometres or 634 miles). But it is the beloved river of Paris and one of Europe’s great historic rivers. And like other great rivers such as the Volga and the Mississippi, it has, through the centuries, held a strong fascination for creative spirits — poets, musical composers and artists. The stream of inspiration has never stopped flowing.

The Wellerman song: Putting the lyrics in context

Knowing the historical and cultural context of a song can lead to a better appreciation of it. In the case of Soon May the Wellerman Come (The Wellerman, for short), it is in fact necessary . This whaling song which has gone viral (it is not a sea shanty) makes specific references to the whaling tradition of New Zealand and to whale hunting in general. To know the meaning of some of the words and phrases used is to understand what the song really tries to convey.

Behold the ghost ship! (in poetry and art)

Yes, there are real ghost ships. Phantom ships they are usually called, drifting at sea with their crew missing or dead. Amongst such mysterious vessels was the schooner Carroll A. Deering, which was found run aground off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina in 1921 minus its crew. But equally mysterious are the ghost ships of legend and folklore, the most famous being the Flying Dutchman. These spectres of the sea live on through the works of writers and artists.

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