Location: Sacramento, California

I am a retired lawyer and administrative law judge, aged but active, with a variety of interests.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Poem, Cape Horn Incident

Cape Horn Incident

The Grace Harwar, short-handed, full-rigged ship,
sunk scupper-deep with Aussie grain, had borne
a weight of storm so wroth we scarcely knew
that she would live, as we approached Cape Horn.
A dame of forty years, with only hand
machinery, she had no steam or heat.
A falling spar had killed a man two days
before, and made our misery complete.

As night was coming on, a heavy sea
swept youthful Jaakko Sjöberg overboard.
The helmsman threw the wheel hard down, and brought
the vessel, shiv’ring, to the wind and toward
the place the boy was seen to grasp the ring
thrown out thereat his parting shriek was heard.
We would not yield Cape Horn another man,
and all our vessel’s meager crew bestirred!

We’d lashed our boats against the stormy sea,
with davit tackle blocks unroved, so straight
with frenzied speed we rove new rope, and set
a boat afloat, six oarsmen and the mate,
the Frenchman in his underwear and John
still stiff and sick, and all in train to freeze.
We dropped astern, and presently we lost
the ship in failing light and roiling seas.

We feared to lose ourselves, as happened in
a case we knew, but pulled about and guessed
where he’d be found. At length, a miracle!
When we had thought to quit, atop a crest
three troughs away we saw his bobbing head.
The while, it seems, the ship had us in sight,
and now ran slowly down as we retrieved
a living boy, and foiled Cape Horn aright!

-James M. Moose


Blogger William said...

Very nice maritime poem, well composed!

March 11, 2016 at 9:09 PM  

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