Poems Without Frontiers

Poems in Translation

David Paley




 This Site  Web



No Harbour
David Paley

Our bold assurance leaves no doubt
That we can sail from coast to coast
And turn our lives to good account,
Although aware that we are haunted.
For, we are merely marking time
Before the surging oceans claim us;
And know that we must sink or swim
Throughout the lease that we are granted.

We prove our youth with striking oars,
Unperturbed by billowed tower,
As we plough the seas in trials of strength
Against the gale that bends our mast.
We throw our lives in fortune's scales
And tip the balance to advantage
Assured that no disaster can occur
Despite the force of mighty blast.

Across the water glides our clipper,
Ample matron with bonnet flying
And portly gent in evening stroll,
Who race the clouds as fast as wind,
The captive of their outspread arms.
Sweet music plays within the rigging
That throbs with merry sound
Of pouring golden treasure
And siren song of tropic charms.

Our well-proportioned ocean liner
With sparkling bridge and clean, bright hull,
Famed throughout the shipping world,
Thrusts through walls of warring waters
Parted by majestic motion.
All the clients, rich and famous,
Strive to be among the fashion
And whirl through night until the morning
When they secure another fortune.

But, beyond the bay with blackened funnel,
A rusting steamer, limping slowly,
Far from port of registration,
Hugs the coastline near at hand
Fearful of the boundless ocean.
She steams with wheezing boilers
That have known a better youth,
And beats against the flow,
Well aware of time's erosion.

Then, the sleeping deep awakes
As driving surf from blowing gales
Thrusts the ship upon the beach
To lie amid the dried up shells
That from untold depths were cast.
They have known their million years
Scoured by rolling currents
And seek to merge, midst sounding knells,
All our futures with their past.

But also, now, the leaping tide
That laps the foot of man,
Is maddened by the moon
And, in search of easy prey,
Floods too fast for his slow run.
Thus, is he persuaded
By the ever flowing sea
That eternal youth is gained
Where Neptune's will is done.

From roaring deeps with lion manes,
Come waters fierce that maul the strand
With crashing weight of winter waves
To race across the shelving sand
And claw at cliffs to find their lair.
They follow swiftly in pursuit
And hunt their prey with untamed rage
Devouring all along the coast,
Who bewail their fate in deep despair.

Consigned at last to meet their doom
And swept away on watery wastes,
Mortal souls are lost to light
Whilst reputation floats awhile
Until it sinks from worldly sight.
As in fog that shrouds the shore,
Engulfing all that goes before,
They are trapped within the gloom
Of deepest sleep in silent night.

As wide as the heavens, as blue as the sky,
As deep as a philosopher's mind
And smooth as a salver holding the stars,
Where diamonds glisten on polished glass,
The sea remains whilst man departs.
Those merry sprites of summer spray,
Dance once more throughout the day
Without a thought for ages past
That witnessed all those treasured hearts.

But other crews with other moods
Are born to newer dawns,
Who sound their songs
And float on buoyant sparks
To sway with proud endeavour.
Now the sea bears one more craft
That proves again the pulse of life,
At least, until it meets the wave
That sweeps it swiftly to the grave
Where sails are furled forever.

David Paley




Poems Without Frontiers

Poems in Translation

David Paley




 This Site  Web



No Harbour
David Paley

Our bold assurance leaves no doubt
That we can sail from coast to coast
And turn our lives to good account,
Although aware that we are haunted.
For, we are merely marking time
Before the surging oceans claim us;
And know that we must sink or swim
Throughout the lease that we are granted.

We prove our youth with striking oars,
Unperturbed by billowed tower,
As we plough the seas in trials of strength
Against the gale that bends our mast.
We throw our lives in fortune's scales
And tip the balance to advantage
Assured that no disaster can occur
Despite the force of mighty blast.

Across the water glides our clipper,
Ample matron with bonnet flying
And portly gent in evening stroll,
Who race the clouds as fast as wind,
The captive of their outspread arms.
Sweet music plays within the rigging
That throbs with merry sound
Of pouring golden treasure
And siren song of tropic charms.

Our well-proportioned ocean liner
With sparkling bridge and clean, bright hull,
Famed throughout the shipping world,
Thrusts through walls of warring waters
Parted by majestic motion.
All the clients, rich and famous,
Strive to be among the fashion
And whirl through night until the morning
When they secure another fortune.

But, beyond the bay with blackened funnel,
A rusting steamer, limping slowly,
Far from port of registration,
Hugs the coastline near at hand
Fearful of the boundless ocean.
She steams with wheezing boilers
That have known a better youth,
And beats against the flow,
Well aware of time's erosion.

Then, the sleeping deep awakes
As driving surf from blowing gales
Thrusts the ship upon the beach
To lie amid the dried up shells
That from untold depths were cast.
They have known their million years
Scoured by rolling currents
And seek to merge, midst sounding knells,
All our futures with their past.

But also, now, the leaping tide
That laps the foot of man,
Is maddened by the moon
And, in search of easy prey,
Floods too fast for his slow run.
Thus, is he persuaded
By the ever flowing sea
That eternal youth is gained
Where Neptune's will is done.

From roaring deeps with lion manes,
Come waters fierce that maul the strand
With crashing weight of winter waves
To race across the shelving sand
And claw at cliffs to find their lair.
They follow swiftly in pursuit
And hunt their prey with untamed rage
Devouring all along the coast,
Who bewail their fate in deep despair.

Consigned at last to meet their doom
And swept away on watery wastes,
Mortal souls are lost to light
Whilst reputation floats awhile
Until it sinks from worldly sight.
As in fog that shrouds the shore,
Engulfing all that goes before,
They are trapped within the gloom
Of deepest sleep in silent night.

As wide as the heavens, as blue as the sky,
As deep as a philosopher's mind
And smooth as a salver holding the stars,
Where diamonds glisten on polished glass,
The sea remains whilst man departs.
Those merry sprites of summer spray,
Dance once more throughout the day
Without a thought for ages past
That witnessed all those treasured hearts.

But other crews with other moods
Are born to newer dawns,
Who sound their songs
And float on buoyant sparks
To sway with proud endeavour.
Now the sea bears one more craft
That proves again the pulse of life,
At least, until it meets the wave
That sweeps it swiftly to the grave
Where sails are furled forever.

David Paley