Poems Without Frontiers

Poems in Translation

David Paley






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The Final Port of Call
David Paley

We play the merchant on a voyage
Throughout our role in life;
And stretch our billowing sails
Toward the land of unknown trials
Where furthest dawns are still in shade.
We seek our fortune in the markets
And our endeavours prosper;
No blast can prove its strength against us
When gold is pouring through our pockets.

Spurred on by wildest aspirations,
We seize propitious moments
In hope of further contracts;
And trade with other nations
Pursuing all that life may promise.
Investment shows return
And leads to greater contact
With the mighty fleets of shipping
And the beating heart of commerce.

Thus, we pay our entrance fee
That sets us on our way
To build our ship of dreams
In search of further gain
Whereupon, we bathe in glory
Before we journey to the stars
And crown success with smiles
Or lose determination
And drown our loss in tears.

But all our toils lead on apace
Through the reefs and shoals
And all the gales that we must face
As we rise from far horizons
No longer with our banners furled;
And, like the eagle in our souls,
We stretch our spreading wings
Across the trackless void,
To greet the challenge of the world.

Onwards to the furthest realm,
We ply between the oak and palm
With steady hand to hold the helm
To beat the storm or ride the calm
And, thus, to bask in climate balm.
We keep the vessel free from harm
Forestalled of need to sound alarm
And enjoy the captain's table charm
With delightful lady on our arm.

Proud are we of our new possession,
The yacht with large proportioned stateroom,
Tethered in the new marina,
A sleek gazelle that crowns ambition
With which we cruise the seven seas.
She serves as rich man's status symbol
And proof of our accession
Displayed to all our fellow magnates
In whom we take delight to tease.

But the wind has no respect for compass
And drives with wild, tempestuous motion
Toward the windward shore.
We struggle vainly with the flood,
Through spray from rocks ahead,
Our fear of untamed open sea
Replaced by that of ocean floor
That sends a welcome greeting
Long postponed by gods ashore.

Thus, we drift devoid of power
Far beyond the harbour bar
Majestic, yet, and free as air
With great regard for vasty deep
Now that day has yielded to the night.
No longer drawn by hidden teams
That plough a furrow in the sea,
No forward move can be discerned;
And too wide the gulf from distant quay
To spend the fortune we have earned.