Where two next?

Antipodean travelogue through the eyes of two - one textile and one building lover. It'll be hard to differentiate the two!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sailing the world

Inspired by Loose Yarn & UFO's post about New Zealand poetry day, here's a poem that I will always associate with our decision to come to New Zealand for the year. I googled NZ poets looking for inspiration before we left and when the poem "Sailing the world" by a NZ poet named Kevin Ireland came up, I thought it was a real sign!

Sailing the world.

It was high time for him, at his great age,
to take stock of how things were
in the world and where he had got to,
and the course to take from here on in.

So he decided to shift his chair as he
thought about this and that, in the usual
way of it, and in only a moment or two
he heard the woodwork creak below him.

It became the heavy strain of a ship at sea —
the way the timbers rub like an old cat
against the waves and the hull begins
to scratch itself and wheeze and groan —

and he sailed on with no thought of where
he was going, though for a long while
he stood with one arm raised to the skies,
because experience had taught him

that storms, or the wrath of the gods,
or whatever worse thing it was,
usually came hurtling down on him
from that direction. It was no more

than a frail gesture, yet anyone looking
at him might well have guessed he was
pointing at the death of the sun, shadows
crossing the face of the waters, or the moon

holding its breath at the edge of the world.
A pity they missed his smile as at last
he settled back into the dark anchorage
of his chair just across the room.

Kevin Ireland

I thought at the time that the poem was about regret, perhaps that's what I wanted it to be about. But the more I read it and especially the last three lines, I think, perhaps, it is about the opposite which suits me just fine!


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  • At 8:35 PM, Blogger EnnaVic said…

    What a lovely poem! I like Kevin Ireland's writing - I recently rediscovered a book of his poems (the Dangers of ART)on my shelf that had kind of slipped down the back (oops :) ).

    Have a good week :)

  • At 8:45 AM, Anonymous juliet said…

    Another Kevin Ireland fan here - also check out some of the poetry by Ruth Dallas (my favourite by her is Milking before Dawn). Many years ago when I was sitting my school cert english back home in Chch, there was a poem by each of them in the paper to write about - I was so happy I almostforgot to bother with the rest of the exam! Anyway greetings from a kiwi in Scotland

  • At 8:25 AM, Blogger Sharon in Ireland/NZ said…

    Hi Juliet, good to get a comment from someone new. It's funny that your living in Scotland as my favourite poem was written by a Scottish poet, WS Graham! It's called the Alligator Girls, but I cannot find it on the net and my poetry books are back in Ireland. Seamus Heaney is probably my favourite poet though, he's a genius! Hope you're enjoying Scotland, make sure to get over to Ireland! Cathal


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