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Southern Cross - The Old Lady of the Sea

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The Southern Cross in her heyday above and below at her final resting place in Chittagong, Bangladesh where she ended her fifty years of service as the Ocean Breeze in a ship-breaking graveyard. Built in the same shipyard as the Titanic in 1954 till her sad end in 2004, but she had a far more fortuitous career transporting immigrants across the British Empire as well as pleasure seekers. She was the first passenger liner to be launched by a reigning monarch. Not a big ship by today's standards but as a boy to me she was huge - I thought she was magnificent! It was on board this ship in 1968 that my family and I left our home in Trinidad and headed for a new life in New Zealand stopping in Curacao, Panama canal, Tahiti, and Fiji along the way.

   Built in a Belfast shipyard
 for the Shaw Savill 'n Albion Line.
   On her flagstaff wind 'n lee
 flew the Southern Cross ensign;
   down a slipway to the sea
 launched afar by Her Majesty

   Behold her pale eau de nil
 green 'n pale painted hull of grey;
   at twenty knots her rate
 at twenty thousand tons aweigh.
   On the seas a ship of fate
 the world to circumnavigate

   To sail the Empire far 'n wide
 out of Southampton to Trinidad,
   where from ship to shore
 I waved goodbye as a young lad;
   till in the distance I saw my
 island home to be nevermore

   Smoke from her aft funnel
 into the big Caribbean sky blew,
   then set a course westerly
 by her merchant captain 'n crew,
   and to every port 'n quay
 across the ocean carried me

   I remember gazing in awe
 up 'n down her length 'n beam,
   at the mighty waves below
 and how sea 'n ship did gleam.
   Thru canal gates under tow
 winding our way lazy 'n slow

   Crossing the equator I saw
 ole Davy Jones 'n King Neptune;
   rising up out of the deep
'neath a high December moon,
   till in safe passage 'n keep
 back to the depths they leap

   Out on Oceania as a boy
 in the lido deck pool I did dive.
   The Southern Cross 'n me
 would our long voyage arrive,
   on in all her hope 'n glory
 this grand old lady of the sea
   On Far East final voyage
 alas her end would not be long;
   beached on a tidal seaway
 sold 'n scrapped in Chittagong.
   A line flagship in her day
 stripped bare where she lay.

             May 2017

Copyright © | Year Posted 2017

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Date: 8/6/2017 3:32:00 PM
Great write Keith was very interesting story line also, with some interesting phraseology, great rhymes worthy of a nice shared win!
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Keith Trestrail
Date: 8/7/2017 6:46:00 AM
Thanks John. It all seems like yesterday!
Date: 5/31/2017 12:57:00 AM
Love the dialect used in this one. It made it so authentic, Kieth. Well done and so nice to see you posting a new poem!
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Keith Trestrail
Date: 5/31/2017 7:58:00 AM
Thanks Andrea. It was a fun write. Ciao!
Date: 5/29/2017 5:14:00 AM
Oh LOL, sorry for laughing I didn't mean to laugh, the LOL is more because I was so used to you not posting new poems, that I am surprised to find one today :) Coincidentally I was watching a documentary this morning about a British Cruiseship that is now resting somewhere in California as a 5-star hotel. Beautiful tribute/ballad for a wonderful ship.
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Keith Trestrail
Date: 5/29/2017 7:26:00 AM
Cheers Darren. Aye, my muse has been sailing in the doldrums of late but I got a fair wind in my sails for this one. Nice to hear from ya, Happy Feet!
Date: 5/26/2017 9:39:00 PM
Winding our way, lazy n' slow. Lovely piece... so FULL. Eau de nil-- so rarely used in poetry. Thought I'd drop by and I'm glad I did. Makes no sense that nobody else commented? This is good, Captain. Thought I'd let you know that I've opened a pub... but I know you're frustrated... hopefully, things will blow over. ~ Cyndi
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Keith Trestrail
Date: 5/26/2017 10:14:00 PM
Glad you liked it even though it rhymes! I did have a comment which has since been deleted. I hope that its author returns. I hardly ever comment (and I know that's not good) on other posts so I don't expect a lot in return. Life is full of frustrations - the Soup is the least of mine. Will stop by your blog. Cheers.