Cargoes by John Mansfield
I woke up the other morning with an old verse I’d learnt at school — not sure which year, but it was at least half a century ago — playing in my head like on a tape recorder. And the rhythm was still there!
I’m sure some of my readers will have also known this poem from school days: “Cargoes” by John Masefield?
Even the foreign words were still intact and popping up out of the subconscious like bubbles from a geyser.
It took me some days before I got around to Googling the poem and finding oral renditions of it on YouTube. I think what I liked about the poem (and still do) was the exotic-sounding words, not to mention the rhythm of the seas, and the sense of the wind in the sails. It lifted me out of the dreary classroom and into exotic faraway places .
The contrast of the last stanza, with the two preceding ones, always enchanted me in class. That’s when the rhythm changes to mimic the type of sturdy, industrial-age “coaster” vessel and its more prosaic cargo.
I read somewhere that the cargo items in Stanza 2 were taken directly from the Bible.