Ballad Written After Visiting Lindisfarne.

For my poetry class I needed to write a ballad in traditional style. I was really stumped for a subject until I had two strokes of luck. The first was finding this gravestone:


The second was a stroke of “writer’s luck” – I thought I had finished but maybe a final verse would work? It turned out the best of the poem, I think!

Holy Isle churchyard bears a stone
For the Holmbrook none could save
All of its eleven crew undone
And lost to a sailor’s grave.

Baines was captain, man of good stead
Master of tide and shoals
But he grounded on false Emmanuel Head
So now the sad bell tolls.

And sadder still on that shared stone
For whom no mourner cried
The eleventh a sailor name unknown
Save for one unidentified.

But he like his master was a mother’s son
He like Baines was taken
By peril of the seas his soul undone
And by his name forsaken.

Lonely is the drown’d sailor’s wife
And wrecks deserve ill fame
But lonelier still a man’s lost life
As a ghost who bears no name.

(March 2014)


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