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CFS Poetry Challenge

bradfordian 17 Mar 14 - 01:04 PM
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Subject: CFS Poetry Challenge
From: bradfordian
Date: 17 Mar 14 - 01:04 PM

During the course of my research into things relative to Cicely Fox Smith poetry, I came across this original CFS poem AND, to which, there had been a topically related response, which I found intriguing.
This led me to wonder if anyone else was moved to write a related response to a specific poem, or indeed if anyone might be up for a challenge to do so. I am particularly interested in anything associated with a CFS poem, but I could extend it to other poets.
Something in the manner of this example (for which writer of the response has given her permission to reproduce it here)


Ghosts In Deptford by Cicely Fox Smith

If ghosts should walk in Deptford, as very well they may,
A man might find the night there more stirring than the day,
Might meet a Russian Tsar there, or see in Spain's despite
Queen Bess ride down to Deptford to dub Sir Francis knight.

And loitering here and yonder, and jostling to and fro,
In every street and alley the sailor-folk would go,
All colours, creeds, and nations, in fashion old and new,
If ghosts should walk in Deptford, as like enough they do.

And there'd be some with pigtails, and some with buckled shoes,
And smocks and caps like pirates that sailors once did use,
And high sea-boots and oilskins and tarry dungaree,
And shoddy suits men sold them when they came fresh from sea.

And there'd be stout old skippers and mates of mighty hand,
And Chinks and swarthy Dagoes, and Yankees lean and tanned,
And many a hairy shellback burned black from Southern skies,
And brassbound young apprentice with boyhood's eager eyes,

And by the river reaches all silver to the moon
You'd hear the shipwrights' hammers beat out a phantom tune,
The caulkers' ghostly mallets rub-dub their faint tattoo —
If ghosts should walk in Deptford, as very like they do.

If ghosts should walk in Deptford, and ships return once more
To every well-known mooring and old familiar shore,
A sight it were to see there, of all fine sights there be,
The shadowy ships of Deptford come crowding in from sea.

Cog, carrack, buss and dromond — pink, pinnace, snake and snow —
Queer rigs of antique fashion that vanished long ago,
With tall and towering fo'c'sles and curving carven prows,
And gilded great poop lanterns, and scrolled and swelling bows.

The Baltic barque that foundered in last month's North Sea gales,
And last year's lost Cape Horner on her sails,
Black tramp and stately liner should lie there side by side
Ay, all should berth together upon that silent tide.

In dock and pond and basin so close the keels should lie
Their hulls should hide the water, their masts make dark the sky,
And through their tangled rigging the netted stars should gleam
Like gold and silver fishes from some celestial stream.

And all their quivering royals and all their singing spars
Should send a ghostly music a-shivering to the stars —
A sound like Norway forests when wintry winds are high,
Or old dead seamen's shanties from great old days gone by, —

Till eastward over Limehouse, on river, dock and slum,
All shot with pearl and crimson the London dawn should come,
And fast at flash of sunrise, and swift at break of day,
The shadowy ships of Deptford should melt like mist away.

THE RESPONSE:
Future ghosts in Deptford: a warning

If ghosts should walk in Deptford they'd find it very hard
In all the yuppie towers that cover the King's Yard
To even find their bearings, to weigh their anchors well,
Or feel they're not forgotten in some foreign concrete hell.


And sighing in their sadness, they'd gather to lament
The gated, cold "communities" that smother in cement
The green and lovely acres of John Evelyn's Sayes Court,
The buried docks and slipways of Deptford's once-great port.


The riverside apartment blocks stare vacant at the shore
Accumulating value with their backs turned to the poor,
Whose ancestors would shuffle, stretching out their hands
For token recognition in an unfamiliar land.


And all the skilful shipwrights and all the weathered crew
Would stand on the street corners not knowing what to do,
But turn up their coat collars and huddle in the wind
If ghosts should walk in Deptford, whose history was binned.

brad.


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