Cheap Tin Trays!

Imagine.
A bored child
In Sussex
By the sea.

Poetry.
Rhythm
Music
Imagination.

Rhyme
Dance
Playful
exotics.

Today guests arrive for an ‘intensive retreat’, with a difference. Here is the write up on our website introducing the retreat.
One of the themes of this retreat is around seeing the reading and writing of poetry as a potential ‘path of awareness’. In finding ways to express what seems unsayable, poetry can reveal and clarify our understanding of ourselves. During the retreat, there will be talks/discussions on this topic, which will be integrated with sitting periods.

Those coming to the retreat were encouraged to bring a poem. Below is my poem.

‘Cargoes’
Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amethysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

John Masefield

Everything from the exotic, hard to pronounce words, to those cheap tin trays, pig lead and firewood captured my bored wandering attention. Sitting at my desk I could picture that dirty British coaster filled with earthy items, contrasting with emeralds, amethysts, peacocks and palm-green shores. How unlike Sussex by the sea! The poem fired my imagination and pointed to a distant world beyond the waves I knew. It probably set me yearning to see the world.

There is something to be said for poetry.

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6 thoughts on “Cheap Tin Trays!”

  1. Rev Master,I haven’t read that poem since I was a teenager- thank you for bringing it back to me. I used to read the Oxford book of poetry every day.

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