Sunday, June 15, 2008

Low Tide on White Strand Fuday Barra

Low Tide on the White Strand

Twice daily
on that desert isle
the mighty prow,
the dragon’s head,
festooned with sea wrack,
by ebbing tide,
a sinuous vision
of massive wooden ribs,
comfortably bedded,
diagonally rested,
in gentle curves
across the long white strand.
Onward it voyages,
this solid vessel,
of heavy blackened wood
four inches thick
grafted to ribs
with one inch doméd dowels,
this hallowed hull
where time,
is stilled.

Collapsing cliffs of sand enclose the beach and from their edge hangs matted yellowed grass, curly hair waving in the wind, hiding so many shrunken, blackened skulls, watching. Watching the caressing tide return to kiss each rib in little lapping waves, till only the prow remains and like a seal’s bobbing head is gone, submerged again in silence, sea and sand beneath a headland where wind and currents rule a dark green sea. 

I paddled to the island and stayed the night, returning a week later to take the photos, though this time the tide wasn’t low enough to expose all the ship. I would like to find out more information on this shipwreck but here are a few references with pictures of Viking ships:

If you liked my poem then you will like this one by Robert Stephen Hawker. As with the wreck I’ve just discovered it.

The Figure-Head of the Caledonia at her Captain's Grave.

We laid them in their lowly rest,
The strangers of a distant shore;
We smoothed the green turf on their breast,
'Mid baffled Ocean's angry roar;
And there, the relique of the storm,
We fixed fair Scotland's figured form.

She watches by her bold, her brave,
Her shield towards the fatal sea:
Their cherished lady of the wave
Is guardian of their memory.
Stern is her look, but calm, for there
No gale can rend or billow bear.

Stand, silent image! stately stand,
Where sighs shall breathe and tears be shed,
And many a heart of Cornish land,
Will soften for the stranger dead.
They came in paths of storm; they found
This quiet home in Christian ground.

Robert Stephen Hawker

"Parson Hawker,” as he was known to his parishioners, was something of an eccentric, both in his clothes and his habits. He loved bright colours and it seems the only black things he wore were his socks. He built a small hut (that became known as Hawker's Hut) from driftwood on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, where he spent many hours writing his poems and smoking opium. This driftwood hut is now the smallest property in the National Trust portfolio. Other eccentricities included dressing up as a mermaid and excommunicating his cat for mousing on Sundays. He dressed in claret-coloured coat, blue fisherman's jersey, long sea-boots, a pink brimless hat and a poncho made from a yellow horse blanket, which he claimed was the ancient habit of St Pardarn. He talked to birds, invited his nine cats into church and kept a huge pig as a pet.
Harvest Festival that we know today was introduced in the small village of Morwenstow in 1843 by Hawker. He invited his parishioners to a Harvest service. He wanted to give thanks to God for providing such plenty in a more fitting way. This service took place on the 1st of October and bread made from the first cut of corn was taken at communion.


Anonymous Maayan G said...

I love the photos, even submerged, and I think especially so ... like a veil of mystery, like it reveals itself to just a lucky few. Making your poem as our eyes. Thank you John.

1:23 am  
Anonymous John Pendrey said...

Thanks for you kind comment. It is a delighfully mysterious wreck, as a local historian said with a chuckle, 'It comes and goes.'

11:09 am  
Anonymous Maayan G said...

Yes, that is very funny and so apt a description.

By the way, photos and write up on Melaka is posted on my page, John. You might recognise some of the photos.

12:45 pm  
Anonymous Danny Sillada said...

Magnificent images and powerful words.

2:53 am  
Anonymous mark kristofferson said...

"massive wooden ribs,
comfortably bedded"

Yes. I see it...

9:48 pm  
Anonymous John Pendrey said...

I'm making progress on identifying the wreck. One local man in his 70s says it was a wreck when he was a boy and was a schooner called the 'Wellington'. There is a rock nearby near the Pollochar pub called Wellington Rock.

11:39 am  
Anonymous Gulivia Aservonta said...

Find Love, Friendship and Fun Near!1

2:31 pm  
Anonymous Gulivia Aservonta said...

Find Love, Friendship and Fun Near!1

2:31 pm  

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