One moonlight night a ship drove in,
A ghost ship from the west,
Drifting with bare mast and lone tiller;
Like a mermaid drest
In long green weed and barnacles
She beached and came to rest.
All the watchers of the coast
Flocked to view the sight;
Men and women streaming down
Through the summer night,
Found her standing tall and ragged
Beached in the moonlight.
Then one old woman stared aghast:
“The Alice Jean? But no!
The ship that took my Ned from me
Sixty years ago –
Drifted back from the utmost west
With the ocean’s flow?
“Caught and caged in the weedy pool
Beyond the western brink,
Where crewless vessels lie and rot
in waters black as ink,
Torn out at last by a sudden gale –
Is it the Jean, you think?”
A hundred women gaped at her,
The menfolk nudged and laughed,
But none could find a likelier story
For the strange craft
With fear and death and desolation
Rigged fore and aft.
The blind ship came forgotten home
To all but one of these,
Of whom none dared to climb aboard her:
And by and by the breeze
Veered hard about, and the Alice Jean
Foundered in foaming seas.
Thought I would try a little something different. This is a poem written by Robert Graves (hence the title). I bought today a book titled New Poetry Workshop (Edited by N. Russell and H.J. Chatfield, 1983). It is designed to be a thought provoking book for Year 9 and 10 students, but here I am intrigued by it’s questions and poetry.
The questions posed by the book are: why do you think the ship is called “blind”? Which line in verse five offers you a ‘gap in the plot’ which your imagination must fill? Personally I would like to hear your answers.
I pose another question to you too, that I postulated after reading and thinking about the poem. Is the poem about a ship or a person?
Also if anyone could find a “study guide” or other material that analyses the poem it would be greatly appreciated.