The Poetry of Brian Langley
I was inspired to write this poem by the erection of a plaque near where I live, listing the various ships that have been wrecked in the vicinity, the most famous of which was the Dutch East Indiaman "Vergulde Draeck" ("Gilt Dragon") wrecked in 1656. There were some survivors from this tragedy, some of whom managed to sail a longboat to Batavia, Upon the return of a rescue party several months later, no trace was found of those that had remained behind.
3 other similar Dutch Shipwrecks have been found along our coast, the Batavia, Zuytdorp and Zeewick but there are at least three others that left Capetown in Africa, headed for Batavia (now Jakarta), never to be seen again.
Perhaps this poem is the story of one of them
It's been a week, we've seen no sun.
The howling gales persist.
Our ship is driven by the wind
Into the spray and mist
It almost seems she'll not survive
Each wave that thunders by.
The boiling foam is all around.
We cannot see the sky
We've no idea where we are.
We fear we'll soon be dead.
And all that we can do is pray
There are no shoals ahead.
We've lost three men, swept overboard.
Their cries we could not hear
Above the howling of the wind
We watched them disappear
Into a watery, unmarked grave,
No priest to watch them die.
Forever, as an albatross
Their souls are doomed to fly.
And still our ship is driven on
Toward the distant shore
And all we see are monstrous waves.
Their sound, a constant roar.
We've scarcely eaten for a week,
The galley's washed away.
Just salt beef and some biscuits
Are all we have each day.
Our sails are gone, torn into shreds,
We've two men on the wheel.
They fight to keep our ship afloat
As on each wave we heel.
Then as we crest a giant wave
We see a sight we dread.
There’s no escape - God save us from
The line of rocks ahead.
© B.Langley 28/3/00
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