Poems Without Frontiers

Poems in Translation

David Paley




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Reaching the Harbour
David Paley

The full moon is sailing; the crests and the troughs
Grow steadily greater as wind starts to howl
And drives all before it in the billowing sea
Where none can restrain it from filling the sail
That is tossed by the gale as the strand looms ahead
With the storm ever louder thumping the breast.

Searching in darkness for the flash of the lighthouse,
Eager for haven as eyes are striding the deep,
Caressing the contours that dip to the cove,
The bow runs for the coast battling fast rushing currents
With the headlands above and the river mouth open
And the signal to enter inviting the desperate in.

Tempestuous nature descends on the land
As torrents are thrashing on shingle and sand
The spring tide is rising; the waters are heaving
And white horses race with their rider at gallop
As rollers are forming to high breaking surf,
Crests long withholding their crash on the cliffs.

The offing is near and cleared for approach,
The lights on the cliff top sparkle in welcome
As the crew seize the moment to mount on the flood
Guided by hands that steer through the breach
And thrusts into harbour crossing the bar
To enter the warmth of the dockyard out of the wind.

Now it rocks with the motion riding the swell
Settling on soft yielding sand
Where far away oceans under the keel
Moan from the depths and recede;
And the timbers groan as they move
Pressed by the weight of the hull.

The moon is reflected in the ripples of movement
As the boat sinks and rises to the rhythm of waves
For the breakers are rolling before they subside
And the shore is receiving the thrust from the bay
That drives ever forward pressed by the flow
'Till unstoppable surge shoots into the cave.

The quay is before them; the goal has been reached
And the cries of the rescued are heard.
The sails are atremble with anticipation
Before their release with a crash on the deck
When the mast is dismounted and shipped
And silence returns with a sigh.

But the ropes are secured and the craft is afloat
And rests without movement secured by the anchor
Grappled securely to moorings below.
But there in the morning the outlook is calm
With the debris of night-time strewn on the beach
Where all is disordered as proof of the blast.

Two creatures now lying in the quiet of home,
No longer engulfed by the pounding and foam,
Wake to the morning with thoughts on the lightning
And whether the sky will rage once again
The one with impressions of earth that was moving
The other of tumult he bestrode in the night.

David Paley