The Galleon

Image: Voyage by Paranoimiac on Deviant Art

The Galleon
CJ Levinson

In my dreams I see a distant land
Surrounded by a vast ocean and shadows
On the sands of that desolate place
Lies the wreck of an old galleon
Tall and shattered, all that remains
Is its weathered and half-buried frame
A relic from an ancient past
That no one remembers

What brought it here I do not know
Nor what became of its prized cargo
Of gold, sandalwood and cinnamon,
And slaves taken far from their homes
It seems a sad fate; but if you listen carefully
Sometimes you can still hear its stories
Whispered on the wind
Whilst it stands sentry over the night

Far in the distance a small cemetery
Marks the last resting place of the dead,
A wooden cross beside each grave
Watching over their nameless remains
How many survived and for how long
Is something only the sands can know;
I can only imagine how it must have felt
To be destined to die alone

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9 thoughts on “The Galleon

  1. Both are amazing! Did you write this after seeing the picture or find the picture after writing it?
    After reading it I just want to know more – sign of a great work for me!
    Were the slaves buried too? Who put up the crosses? Would the last one to die go to the cemetery to do it so that he wouldn’t be alone in death? Did he just lie down and wait to die after he became the last to survive? What’s the rest of the story????

    I think everything has a story. Every piece of land, every place, every thing. Being able to tell that story in a way that makes someone else want to be a part of it and know more is an amazing ability.

    p.s. I went to Deviant Art and added that to my favorites!

    CJ: Thanks Jule! I’m so glad you liked it. And the picture too. I saw the picture after writing the poem and they seemed like a perfect fit. They really compliment each other very well.

    The poem started as an idea for a story, which is why it feels very detailed. Originally I wanted to write several short stories charting the shipwreck and ending with the last of the survivors, but after starting a few projects I put it aside.

    I liked the idea, though, and decided to turn it into a poem for now. I had to condense it, which is why some of the details like the slaves and crosses raise more questions… the original story was meant to end with the last survivor burying the dead and looking out at the ocean as he waits to die, but the poem’s a little different. I quite like that; it leaves it up to the reader to tell their own story.

    Basically I just wanted something to expand upon later, but it’s become its own story now too… it’s interesting just how many directions one idea can take you in. Thanks for the kind words; now I’ll just have to try and tell the rest of the story! 😉

  2. I’m with 911jule but I know that is what poetry is about to make you yearn for more…is this a prelude to a story CJ?

    CJ: Thanks MQ. I think a good poem gives you a glimpse into the world but leaves the reader to interpret exactly what’s happened… I love John Masefield’s poetry and that’s the kind of effect I wanted here.

    It was going to be a story but I decided to put it aside while I worked out the details. The idea was so visual, though, that I really wanted to capture it while it was still fresh. I wrote a few lines and the poem just sort of came together after that.

    I’ll come back to it at some stage; just need to finish a few things first. 😉

  3. Oh, do, do, do, tell the rest of the story! It is such a pleasure to read your poetry, cj, and this is particularly evocative. A short story beautifully phrased. In those few lovely lines you made me care.

    CJ: Muse, thank you so much for the compliment. I enjoy telling a story in different forms and that’s what attracted me to this poem, telling a story in a few short lines… I’m so glad you liked it.

    I’ll definitely come back to the story at some stage. It’s just interesting how an idea can be taken in different directions and still have the same emotion. It came from a real dream I had of a man staring out at the ocean, waiting to die… that’s the feeling I wanted to create in the poem, but there’s a real story there too. Now I’ve just got to write it. 🙂

  4. Beautifully written CJ…It reminds me of the Acadian story.. French colony of Acadia in what is now Nova Scotia..Nova Scotia is one of Canada’s provinces located East…Many Acadians were deported to the States and Europe and died en route…

    Thank u for this very nice poem…

    CJ: Thanks, CV. I had a hard time getting the pace just right, so I’m so glad it touched you that much. Thank you for the kind words.

    I didn’t know that about the Acadians but that’s interesting because when I started to write it, I was thinking about the ships that sailed to Canada and Australia. It ended up being different but it still makes me think of that too.

    And what’s more, they found the HMAS Sydney yesterday just hours after I posted it. It’s amazing how things happen like that sometimes…

  5. That was beautiful and made me feel very sad for those who died alone. The image from the picture brought your words to life even more.
    🙂 Maribeth

    CJ: Thanks Maribeth. I felt sad writing those last few lines too, but they were the reason I wanted to write the poem as well, so I’m glad it touched you that much.

    I was very lucky with the picture. I was looking for something for hours and just stumbled upon it… now it seems perfect. I guess it was meant to be. 😉

  6. I open my mind and i can see the bones of the ship, perhaps a twinkle of gold in the sand, hear the wind whistling over the stump of the mast….what stories those ghosts would tell if we could stop and listen…


    CJ: I love that mental image; the wind passing over the ship, parting the sand, whispering its stories… I can still see the final scene in my mind, the graves, each with their own sad story. It’s changed a little but I can’t imagine it any differently now.

    Thanks for the kind words, Amanda, and for stopping by. 😉

  7. Great poem, hauntingly beautiful. And as the others have already said, it leaves you yearning for more. I like the second stanza alot, especially the last 3 lines.

    And it kind of reminded me of John Masefield’s poetry. 😛

    CJ: Thanks Bharat! Those last few lines are some of my favourites too; I just had this idea of the wind whistling through the wreck and it stuck in my mind… it took some fiddling but it conveys the feeling quite well in the end.

    Masefield is my favourite poet and I love Cargoes; that and Shelley’s Ozymandias inspired a lot of this. But if you can’t be inspired by the greats, what’s the point of reading, eh? 😉

  8. That was awe inspiring. Quite possibly your best piece of writing I’ve yet read.

    Sorry for not commenting earlier.

    That was the best poem I have read for some time.

    CJ: Thanks Bobby! Wow, that’s such a wonderful compliment. I’m still quite new to writing poetry compared to my fiction, so receiving all this feedback is quite overwhelming.

    And I’m just happy whenever people have time to drop around. I’ve been busy the last week myself, so I’ve got to get back into the swing of commenting and posting again.

    Thanks again for the kind words. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. 😉

  9. Excellent writing. Once I finished I couldn’t help but shiver from the awful sense of loneliness that I gained…

    Very Nice.

    CJ: I’m glad you liked it, Phyxius. I wanted that sense of loneliness to reverberate at the end of the poem; it’s not just the deaths of these people but also of an entire world that is forgotten and I found that haunting… I can’t help but wonder if it’ll be the same for our world, one day…

    Thanks for stopping by, and for the kind words.

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