Results 1 to 4 of 4

Thread: Stately Spanish Galleon

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2000
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    2,359

    Post

    .
    I've just been re-reading my all-time favourite Masefield poem, Cargoes, The visual imagery he paints is magnificent, and I thought I'd like to share it.

    There are only three stanzas. Here's the first, in an unhurried pulling stroke and painted in yellows and golds and ochres --

    Quinquereme of Nineveh from distant Ophir
    Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
    With a cargo of ivory,
    And apes and peacocks,
    Sandalwood, cedarwood, anf sweet whitre wine.


    And then the pure romance of the tropics in the second stanza. The long gentle ocean swell, perfectly matched by the lilting rhythm of the words he chooses, and the almost over-powering sense of jade-green and aquamarine water sparkling under a tropical sun --

    Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
    Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
    With a cargo of diamonds,
    Emeralds, amethysts,
    Topazes, cinnamon, and gold moidores.


    And then finally -- crunch -- straight into an equnoctial gale in the English Channel, all greys and deep deep blues, flecked with white. Note his use of short staccato words to emphasise the motion of the boat and the everyday utility of her cargo by comparison with that of the galleon in the second stanza --

    Dirty British coaster with a salt-stained smoke stack
    Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
    With a cargo of Tyne coal,
    Road-rail, pig-lead,
    Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.


    Magic, pure magic.
    .

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    VA
    Posts
    14,791

    Post

    When I was a kid there was much controversy about the arrangement oars on Triremes and Quinqueremes.
    I think the Trireme issue has settled down a bit but AFAIK, how quinqueremes worked is still in dispute. The term means 5 banks of oars. If they are arranged as in a trireme the upper oars become impossibly long so some other arrangement must have been used.

    I agree that Masefield's writing is pretty heady stuff but were I in charge of such things I'd have to revoke his poetic license! Quinqueremes were warships not cargo ships.
    With that cargo of apes they'd sure enough need the perfumed sandalwood and cedar. It would have been an entertaining voyage though. I can imagine that the shrieking peacocks and the apes running amok would soon induce the crew to sample that wine!
    Recovering Atheist

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2000
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    2,359

    Post

    .
    [img]smile.gif[/img]
    .
    Sam, the trouble is that "trireme" wouldn't scan properly....
    .

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 1999
    Location
    Peterborough, UK
    Posts
    1,120

    Post

    Originally posted by Sam F:
    Quinqueremes were warships not cargo ships.
    Only Greek Quinqueremes,,,,,,, in Nineveh and Tyre they were used as fast transport for high value perisable cargoes,,,,, like peacocks.
    Water skiing too.
    IanW

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •