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Lyr Add: Cargoes (John Masefield)

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Charley Noble 22 Oct 09 - 09:11 AM
Charley Noble 22 Oct 09 - 09:17 AM
Artful Codger 28 May 11 - 05:34 PM
Charley Noble 29 May 11 - 10:15 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: Cargoes (John Masefield)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 22 Oct 09 - 09:11 AM

There have been a number of musical setting for this John Masefield poem and it's been mentioned several times on Mudcat as a poem which one tends to remember. I'd be curious if anyone can provide a link to any musical setting and if there have been any new verses, or choruses added. Here's the original poem with some notes from the Oldpoetry website:

By John Masefield, 1902
First published in SALT-WATER BALLADS, by John Masefield, © 1902


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,
Emeralds, amethysts,
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,
Road-rails, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

Here's a critical note from one Oldpoetry member:

Beautiful but Dumb

The poem, particularly the first verse, is lyrical and romantic. Unfortunately it's completely ridiculous.

"Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir"

Quinquireme of Nineveh? Nineveh was destroyed many centuries before any quinquiremes were built. Only the Romans and Carthaginians ever built them, to use in the Punic Wars. As to Ophir, no one now knows where it was, if it existed at all.

"Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine"

What would a Nineveh ship be doing rowing "home" to Palestine? Nineveh was in what is now Iraq, just across the Tigris from present-day Mosul. You can take a ferry over to see the ruins -- a long way from Palestine.

"With a cargo of apes and peacocks, etc."

If you understand what a quinquireme was, you know it could not carry any cargo. It was a naval vessel, a fighting ship powered by five decks of oarsmen, hence the name. Obviously there's no room for cargo on such a ship. The rowing decks are completely taken up by the benches the rowers sat on; the top deck was crowded with soldiers ready to hurl spears or launch arrows at the enemy -- no place for cargo on a quinquireme!

So the beautiful first verse is to giggle at. The other verses make sense, of course; it's just the first one that blows one up into gales of laughter.

Oh, and here's an extra verse suggested by another Oldpoetry member as a contemporary update:

By John Hyatt

Undermanned Dutch Panamax sailing from Shanghai,
Wallowing past the buoy with containers piled eight-high,
With a cargo of cell phones,
iPods and ear buds,
White plastic chairs and fake porn DVDs.

Yes, there is a rhyme missing at the end of the last line but the first two lines do rhyme.

Comments and other extra verses welcome!

Charley Noble

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Cargoes (John Masefield)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 22 Oct 09 - 09:17 AM

Oh, here are references to some early musical arrangements for this poem:

Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

By Sydney Burkinshaw (1911-) , "Cargoes" [unison boys' voices and piano]

By Robert Coningsby Clarke (1879-1934) , "Cargoes", published 1920 [voice and piano], from Three Sailor Songs

By Tom Dobson (1890-1918) , "Cargoes", published 1920. [any voice except high, light soprano, and piano]

By William Parks Grant (1910-) , "Cargoes", op. 12. [medium voice and piano]

By Samuel R. Lewis , "Cargoes", published <<1940.

By Easthope Martin (-1925) , "Cargoes", published 1919 [medium voice and piano], from Five Poems by John Masefield

By Martin Edward Fallas Shaw (1875-1958) , "Cargoes", published 1924. [unison voices and piano]

By Martin Edward Fallas Shaw (1875-1958) , "Cargoes", published 1935. [SATB and piano]

By Philip Tomblings , "Cargoes", published 1936. [unison voices and piano]

I note that Easthope Martin also set some C. Fox Smith poems to music.

Charley Noble

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Cargoes (John Masefield)
From: Artful Codger
Date: 28 May 11 - 05:34 PM

A setting by Tom Johnson sung by Nelson Eddy:

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Cargoes (John Masefield)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 29 May 11 - 10:15 AM



Charley Noble

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