Sailing Ships  – Victoria Sackville West

Lying on Downs above the wrinkling bay 

I with the kestrels shared the cleanly day, 

The candid day; wind-shaven, brindled turf; 

Tall cliffs; and long sea-line of marbled surf 

From Cornish Lizard to the Kentish Nore 

Lipping the bulwarks of the English shore, 

While many a lovely ship below sailed by 

On unknown errand, kempt and leisurely; 

And after each, oh, after each, my heart 

Fled forth, as, watching from the Downs apart, 

I shared with ships good joys and fortunes wide 

That might befall their beauty and their pride; 
Shared first with them the blessed void repose 

Of oily days at sea, when only rose 

The porpoise’s slow wheel to break the sheen 

Of satin water indolently green, 

When for’ard the crew, caps tilted over eyes, 

Lay heaped on deck; slept; mumbled; smoked; threw dice; 

The sleepy summer days; the summer nights 

(The coast pricked out with rings of harbour-lights), 

The motionless nights, the vaulted nights of June 

When high in the cordage drifts the entangled moon, 

And blocks go knocking, and the sheets go slapping, 

And lazy swells against the sides come lapping; 

And summer mornings off red Devon rocks, 

Faint inland bells at dawn and crowing cocks; 
Shared swifter days, when headlands into ken 

Trod grandly; threatened; and were lost again, 

Old fangs along the battlemented coast; 

And followed still my ship, when winds were most 

Night-purified, and, lying steeply over, 

She fled the wind as flees a girl her lover, 

Quickened by that pursuit for which she fretted, 

Her temper by the contest proved and whetted. 

Wild stars swept overhead; her lofty spars 

Reared to a ragged heaven sown with stars 

As leaping out from narrow English ease 

She faced the roll of long Atlantic seas. 
Her captain then was I, I was her crew, 

The mind that laid her course, the wake she drew, 

The waves that rose against her bows, the gales,– 

Nay, I was more: I was her very sails 

Rounded before the wind, her eager keel, 

Her straining mast-heads, her responsive wheel, 

Her pennon stiffened like a swallow’s wing; 

Yes, I was all her slope and speed and swing, 

Whether by yellow lemons and blue sea 

She dawdled through the isles off Thessaly, 

Or saw the palms like sheaves of scimitars 

On desert’s verge below the sunset bars, 

Or passed the girdle of the planet where 

The Southern Cross looks over to the Bear, 

And strayed, cool Northerner beneath strange skies, 

Flouting the lure of tropic estuaries, 

Down that long coast, and saw Magellan’s Clouds arise. 
And some that beat up Channel homeward-bound 

I watched, and wondered what they might have found, 

What alien ports enriched their teeming hold 

With crates of fruit or bars of unwrought gold? 

And thought how London clerks with paper-clips 

Had filed the bills of lading of those ships, 

Clerks that had never seen the embattled sea, 

But wrote down jettison and barratry, 

Perils, Adventures, and the Act of God, 

Having no vision of such wrath flung broad; 

Wrote down with weary and accustomed pen 

The classic dangers of sea-faring men; 

And wrote ‘Restraint of Princes,’ and ‘the Acts 

Of the King’s Enemies,’ as vacant facts, 

Blind to the ambushed seas, the encircling roar 

Of angry nations foaming into war.


About भण्डारी2013

Has a reflective and idealistic types of personality. Loves to participate in Social activities. Extremely loyal by nature. Laid back unless a strongly held value is threatened and a talented writer too.
This entry was posted in Poem and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s