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Sally Odgers

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by Sally Odgers
Saturday, October 11, 2003

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           >> View all 116

I wrote this some time ago for a competition... it was published but I couldn't afford to cash the cheque!

Funny, eh?


They said the sea couldn't hold them
as they sailed from their cold north harbours
Vikings, bearded and laughing
men of the living sagas.

They said the sea couldn't hold them
they challenged the salt and the storm
and the men of skin and sinew
plied the sweeps and the helm
but the thunderer heard and hurled his bolt
down through the steel-grey waves
and the northmen screamed defiance
as the longships turned to graves

They said the sea couldn't hold them
as they left old England's shores
the privateers in cap and hose
to fight an old queen's wars

They said the sea couldn't hold them
as they challenged the Spanish might
and the men of fur and velvet
went sailing into night
but the stormlords heard and blew them down
down through the foaming depths
and the gentlemen cheered defiance
as the galleons went to death.

They said the sea couldn't hold them
as they left the cheering port
the rich, the bright and the youthful
of a modern floating court

They said the sea couldn’t hold them
“She’s unsinkable!” they vowed
and the rich, the bright and the youthful
were confident and proud
but the ice of the deep north heard them
and set a sentinel there
and the bright ones cried in disbelief
as Titanic groaned despair.

They said the sea couldn’t hold them;
yet hold them all it did
deep in the crypt of the ocean
they’ve found their final bed

But there! Where the sea-mist gathers
in swathing, opaque tendrils
hear how the gullls are crying
see how the seagrass trembles.

Hark to the breath of a windless night
and hist to the murmuring words
feel the stir in the dank night air
watch as the spring tide turns.

Stand on the spray-swept beach
lift your awestruck head
watch with disbelieving eyes
as the sea gives up its dead.

Northmen and seadogs, privateers,
passengers and sailors through the years
sea-swept, press-ganged, pleasure seekers,
racers, adventurers, laughers, weepers
see them rise from the sea’s embrace
their footprints leave no earthly trace.

Eerie, holy, hold your gaze
watch the shrouds of mist enfold them
close your eyes and be amazed
that the deep salt sea couldn’t hold them.

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Reviewed by SARA QUEST 10/13/2003
"...close your eyes and be amazed
that the deep salt sea couldn’t hold them" -- such a haunting, exquisite and eery tribute to The Titanic, that beautiful, doomed work.
Reviewed by Jackie Brooks 10/12/2003
Quite an eerie poem, the thought of all those drowned people wandering ashore in the sea-mists. I am a bit puzzled by your summary statement. Jackie <> <
Reviewed by Ch'erie de Perrot 10/11/2003
Woohoo, no wonder that one was a winner.
I can just visualize as I read, what and excellent write, IMHO, and ne'er a truer told story of the depths and its inhabitants.
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