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Friday, 17 May 2013

On Sailing

By Judith Dubin

I built the clipper ship,
secured rock elm to iron frame
with tiny brass-like bolts,
raised fore, main, and mizzen masts,
hoisted her flaxen canvas sails,
and carved the black-haired
bare-breasted Nannie Dee
in her cutty sark
(or as we might say,
in her short chemise)
holding the grey mare’s tail.

I dreamed of steering her
through calm and stormy seas
to bring Australian wool and Chinese tea
to England’s outstretched hands.
I dreamed the race with Thermopylae
and fixed her broken rudder.
I dreamed of winds and clouds
and days of stifling drift,
of private thoughts and splendored hopes,
and the freedom of confinement
that such a life conceives.

And despite some minor obstacles,
like being a girl a century too late,
the only thing that kept me back
was I never learned to swim.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Having a husband who has built three-foot-long detailed models of Cutty Sark, Sea Witch, The Constitution, Thermopylae and others, our home has been a virtual dry dock at times!

The great three and four- masted ships do inspire dreams of the great era of sail. NASA's rockets inspire youngsters today but they certainly lack the heart-stopping beauty of Cutty Sark and Thermopylae.

Thanks for a *lovely* poem. Sadly many of us never learned in our youth to swim in whatever sea we are attracted to at a wiser age. :)

I appreciate your excellent poem. I was fortunate to live nine years on a sailboat cruising the ocean. I can swim, but never had to involuntarily. Do go sailing, perhaps on a Tall Ship cruise.

Modern education ought to teach EVERY child to swim, as an essential basic life skill. How can that not be?

I love your poem. Thanks for sharing it.

Very nice poem Judith. I am a sailor and you don't need to know how to swim in order to go sailing. Just stay in the boat.

I had a goal to build a ship in a bottle when I was a freshman in high school. I loved reading stories about sailing ships too. My dream is to go sailing in a "Tall Ship". Love your poem about the Cutty Sark......
(and I did learn to swim...wouldn't want to fall in a cold sea tho.

Thank you for your comments. It's interesting, too, that the Cutty Sark was named after the nickname of the fictional character Nannie Dee in Robert Burns' poem Tam o'Shanter. In the poem, she wore a linen sark that she had been given as a child. The erotic sight of her dancing in such a short undergarment caused Tam to cry out "Weel done, Cutty-sark", which subsequently became a well-known catchphrase in 1791 Scotland.

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