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Mar 2014
Canto I: Exposition

A dampened quill and wrist unstill
Dare gallop ‘cross the page
Scribbled lines in black do shine
With much and fervent rage

And without fail, they tell their tale:
A passage tried and true
Lasting years, through hopes and fears
On page of yellow hue

Epic tales and loss at sea
Are listed in its text
The hand that writ this hallowed script
Can be no less than hexed

It begged, it sailed, it led a crowd,
It took a lady’s life
It stole, it smote, and always wrote
In volumes more than rife

He took this hand to unknown land
To carve a profound path
He set the sail for times to come
Yet tore himself in half

He lay awake in warm Toulon
In misty-morning May
The yellow birds in shrillest words
Alert him to the day

For too long days and longer nights
He’s waited for the word
The morrow here will mark the first
Of correspondence heard

Bonaparte has rallied here
To Toulon’s bustling bay
Three-fourths a score of battleships
To Egypt make their way

Before the high and mighty men
Joined with the water’s ebb
A note was slipped beneath the door
Assigned to M. Lefèbvre

Finally, a true decree
Has blest his merry course
Soon, eagerly, he’ll set to sea
Lost time his one remorse

Canto II: Aleron

Out to sea are thirty-three
That with me sail the tides
With these men, I trust my life
They follow where I guide

And so we’re gone from warm Toulon
Just days from the decree
Noble men off far ahead
And me with bourgeoisie

Bonaparte has aimed his fleet
To Egypt’s sandy shores
Through pirate gangs and ill intent
His roaring cannons tore

We follow in this taintless route
As far as we can trail
But soon we’ll turn half-way to stern;
To Gibraltar we shall sail

Days upon the Aleron
Are short but riveting
My men maintain their cheery air
And working still, they sing

No more of cloudy restlessness
No more of shady days
The blazing sun and windy waves
Have chased off my malaise

We pull our sheets and head from east
To curve around southwest
Past Ibiza, whose northern shore
Our Aleron caressed

The choppy sea grows thinner
And our nerves become unstill
The pirates of the Barbary Coast
Could leap in for the ****

And now, a sign above the line
Where water meets the sky
A tow’ring plume of certain doom
Is growing ever high

The heavens choke with blackest smoke
As fires burn a boat
The raw, impending fear of Death
Is clawing at my throat

Canto III: Skull and Bones

‘Tis hours later and we’re chased
Beneath the star-dogged moon
We tried to break away to north
But broke away too soon

Unknown, we tailed the pirate ship
Then saw the far black dot
The crow’s nest signaled skull and bones;
We held onto our knot

We much too late had turned around
My Aleron spun slow
Sheets so white in plain of sight
Had sold us to our foe

Our heaviest of itemry
Into the sea we cast
Rusty tools and iron spools:
Submerged, and sinking fast

Yet still we could not make a pace
To lose the rotten crew;
On our backs, they sailed our tracks
And split our wake in two

And so the misty moon is here
And watches like a ghoul
As we divorce our southern course
For Pillars of Hercule

The flick’ring light behind us
Like a glimmer in an eye
Stares and preys upon us
In cover of black dye

It grows and throws upon our ship
A light of fear and blood
It digs into our drowsy eyes
With sharpness of a spud

We hold on to our frantic pace
Till night invites the day
When to our right, in bright sunlight,
An ally heads our way

With Godly sound the cannons pound
The scoundrels far in back
Our brothers there in ship so fair
Repelled the foul attack

Canto IV: Gibraltar

In safer seas, our Aleron
Met with Le Taureau Bleu
We buy and sell and trade our stock
And praise and thank the crew

For safety’s sake, along we take
Two cannons of our own
We’ll stand a better chance against
The skull and crosséd bones

On we sail, on more and more
On through the placid day
No longer faced with poor intent
We make our merry way

Finally, from the vociferous chum
Upon the tall crow’s nest
“Land **! Land **!” Enthused, we know
Gibraltar’s over the crests

I decide to park (good-will flag on ark)
At the British colonial base
With cannons in stow, civilians are we
Attacking is surely bad taste

Just then, as I stood face-front on the deck,
A shrill squawking was cast
To the back I turned, and quickly discerned
A yellow bird up on a mast

How dare it perch there! I’d **** it, I swear
But I’d fire not a gun
Britons who spy me would surely deny me
Fair entrance, if that’s what I’d done

Instead I’ll sit tight; my crew is all right
They don’t mind the bird at all
I’ll listen and bear it, and try to forget
That the bird is the cause of my fall

Closer we draw to Gibraltar’s port
The Britons are within clear view
With a wave of a flag, they accept us in
But my anger cannot be subdued

I ready my gun; to the bird I have spun
And fire my shots to the air
The Britons, upset, rush onboard and get
Me constrained; and ensued despair

Canto V: The Crimson Owl

Silver chains kept me detained
As questioning carried on
Was I a spy for whom I ally?
Or was I simply a con?

I kept face as the questioner paced
And the brute slapped me around
Lastly, I smiled, as after a while
They had no evidence found

With regret, they set me free
Determining I was no harm
But seconds before I went through the door
A fellow rushed in with alarm

Cannons, found inside my ship
As rifles point at me
Again, they had me cuffed and chained
And threatened hostilely

“Smuggling arms to enemy ships”
Was written in their book
Chained and gagged and stowed was I
No better than a crook

Between the pillars I was passed
But not as I had hoped
Both my arm and legs were bound
My fragile neck was choked

In the bowels of The Crimson Owl
I slept in dark distress
No other day, with truth I say,
Had I known such duress

The days had passed and I’d amassed
A hunger, fierce and true
All my thought was set aside
To find something to chew

When suddenly, the shrillest sound
Came flying from afar
A cannon shot had hit its mark
The mainmast it would mar

Sounds of death came all around
And finally toward me
My blind removed, I held in view
The pirates of this sea

Canto VI: Captain Riceau

I stepped aboard by point of sword
And left the burning Owl
“Bienvenue à Le Chat Fou”
Said a fellow through his scowl

But when I talked, they stopped and gawked
Surprised at me they were
A fellow French, I was embraced;
The Crazy Cat could purr

They brought me on, my captors gone,
And took me as their own
And for the time, I went along
And made this Cat my home

I was kept live, and was used for
My knowledge of the sea
For vengeance ‘gainst the Britons
I complied happily

For months - perhaps three seasons passed
I rode upon this ship
Captain Riceau valued me
He named me second skip

For cause unknown, we crossed the sea
Old Captain held his tongue
He would not tell us why we trekked
And chased the setting sun

He brought us ‘round the chilly tip
Of Chile’s southern shore
No reason from his crazy lips
Though long did we implore

Then at last, the day had passed
When Riceau caught a cold
His eyes were red, his limbs were dead
His breathing: hoarse and old

I became the skipper then
And buried him at sea
We cut up north to flee the cold
But at a loss were we

Confused and crazy we’d become
Just like the Cat, rode we
I thought to keep Old Captain’s path
And that meant mutiny

Canto VII: Mutiny

Two days it’d take for them to make
The foul and bitter plan
That I’d be through with Le Chat Fou
And they’d return to Cannes

I lay asleep, in sleep so deep
Dreaming of Calais
The maiden fair with yellow hair
Who one day would betray

In this dream, I heard her scream
And went to touch her cheek
But standing as a statue does
Her gaze was still and bleak

They dragged me back into this world
Then dragged me off the port
My lungs too filled with shockéd air
To object to this tort

They threw my pants and diary,
And sandals, as they laughed
For shoes could serve no purpose
On the ocean’s liquid draft

The flick’ring light before me
Like a glimmer in an eye
Stares but grows more distant
And retreats into black dye

An injury had placed me in
A lesser swimming league
Then again, it’d only serve
To cause me great fatigue

Three days, I had rode the tide
Of the western ocean’s waves
No shark, no squid, no slimy thing
For my flesh did crave

The crests came up like daggers
And fell like hulking trees
I prayed to God almighty
I survive the vicious seas

Finally, I set my stare
Upon the northwest sky
Far away, but clear as day:
An object in my eye

Canto VIII: Abyss

Although I swam me ‘cross the sea
As fast as my arm can
Dry throat and sun win victory
O’er me: a fainted man

Trapped in darkness once again
I spy my fair Calais
Screaming, shrill in bleakness then
With not a word to say

Over me her head hangs low
Her arm is slightly raised
Blood drips off her elbow
Her expression leaves me dazed

She’s gone; the air is hard to breathe
The wind is biting cold
A canopy of restless leaves
Is stirring uncontrolled

Lost inside this world of wood
I struggle to emerge
Feels like years have I withstood
While searching for the verge

No chirpings from my yellow bird
No noises all around
Not a sound is to be heard
But footsteps at the ground

No rodents gnawing at the bark
No insects in the trees
Alone I sleep in brush so dark
With nobody but me

In the drying mud I’m laid
Despondent of my fate
Looking through the verdant shade
The sun does penetrate

Streaming down, the light is rich
Bespeckled on the floor
Dancing ‘round without a hitch
Its presence I implore

I call upon the pouring light
To lift me from this hell
To nullify the chilly blight
Incite the warmth to swell

Canto IX: Land Forgets Itself

The burning light lends me its faith
Yet suddenly absconds
The dulling light projects a wraith:
My soul from the Beyond

The day retreats and turns to night
The moon in place of sun
Mute, and without touch or sight
I desperately run

Fleeing from my fading soul
Myself, I do berate
For no such being should extol
Escaping from my fate

Luscious leaves all turn to brown
They wither and fall fast
Suddenly, upon the ground
A dune of sand’s amassed

Crawling on the desert floor
And shaking from the cold
I hate and bitterly abhor
The night’s begrudging hold

In the distance, at the line
The land forgets itself
The beaming rays of light do shine
And warmth indeed does swell

Basking in the drenching sun
My coldness is expelled
Frigidity that night had won
Has fully been repelled

In the sands, I’ve laid to rest
To steal the heat of day
Yet no sooner had the sun caressed
Than sourly betray

Melted on the scorching sands
My body burned and scarred
I cannot lift my torrid hand
My feet have both been charred

The burning heat has ripped my lust
For life and will to live
My last resolve is brutely ******
Through Death’s unyielding sieve

Canto X: L’Oiseau Jaune

I coughed and spat the water that
I swallowed with my snores
Upon the sand my hand did land;
I’d made my way to shore

The beach was bright with fiery light
My skin was hot and red
I tried to get out of my head
Those visions that I dread

A novelist I once had been
Writing was my joy
With pen in hand, I could withstand
Each plot set to destroy

Yet Calais came and stole my heart
But also my free time
We wed and had a baby boy
Our life was too sublime

I raised my pen to write again
To feed the family right
I spent my days filling the page
And toiled all the night

When finally, she’d lost her mind
She needed to be loved
I tried to calm her shrill attacks
With no help from Above

My raging wife had grabbed a knife
And stabbed my writing hand
Yet somehow I had speared her eye
I couldn’t understand

At the elbow, I was chopped
And no more could I write
The widespread fact I’d killed my mate
Had augmented my plight

I beached onto an island;
This was no Chilean land
I walked around the grainy ground
And found nothing but sand

But soon a rescue ship had come
I was not too long gone
I read the name upon the port;
It was l’Oiseau Jaune
This was my senior thesis in high school, primarily inspired by "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Coleridge.
Edward Alan
Written by
Edward Alan  New York, NY
(New York, NY)   
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