I remember one poem from high school. One.
Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.
Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.
Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.
Cargoes – by John Masefield
Quinquereme – ancient Roman galley with five banks of oars on each side;
Nineveh – ancient city located on the outskirts of Mosul in modern-day northern Iraq, on the eastern bank of the Tigris River. Nineveh was the largest city in the world for some fifty years until the year 612 BC;
Ophir – A city mentioned in the Bible (1 Kings 10:22) from where King Solomon got treasure every three years: gold, silver, sandalwood, pearls, ivory, apes and peacocks! Could have been anywhere; many places have been suggested, from Great Zimbabwe and Ethiopia in Africa, to the East, to the Americas.
Spanish galleon –
moidores – Portuguese gold coins
British coaster –
Another poem by Masefield became a favourite and I mentioned it in a tribute here.
I like his wishes for after his death. He wrote:Let no religious rite be done or read
In any place for me when I am dead,
But burn my body into ash, and scatter
The ash in secret into running water,
Or on the windy down, and let none see;
And then thank God that there’s an end of me.
We also did Shakespeare in the Vrystaat – Antony & Cleopatra. I only remember one line:
‘He ploughed her and she cropped’
Long after school I learnt some better lessons. One of them: