Old Sea Dogs & Herringbone

Of Old Sea Dogs and Herringbone is the third work by Genevieve Wood to be introduced in the Purple Scooter Poetry website.  It was written in the 1950s when we lived in a completely different world.  It’s a personal favorite of mine.

This ballad has quite a serious theme at one level.  But it’s also clever, outrageously funny, and full of delightful surprises.  Although a poetically demanding work, it should appeal to all kinds of readers — serious students of literature, those who get a kick out of the sound of words and rhyming, those with a sense of adventure and fantasy, people who simply enjoy a good laugh, anyone drawn to the ocean, and all who are fascinated by Winston Churchill, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

The title of the work is straightforward enough.  Its meaning will be clear from the tale itself.  But the author always presented the title with this secondary parenthetical phrase:  (in old Churchillian rhyme).   As the publication’s editor, I felt obliged to look into whether in fact there is such a thing as “old Churchillian rhyme.”  I found nothing to confirm that there is, but decided to retain its use anyway–because it was written that way, and because it’s playful.

However, it would be interesting, maybe even instructive, to hear what others have to say about the matter.  Anyone who wants to speculate — in a serious vein or just for fun — on what the author’s intent might have been when she spoke of “old Churchillian rhyme” is encouraged to do so.

Please also feel free to share any other thoughts you may have about Sea Dogs.  To say the least, it is a true original!

And feel free to comment on any other elements of the Purple Scooter website that interest you, or to suggest poems that you think should be considered for inclusion.

[Gail Spangenberg, Editor]

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6 Responses to Old Sea Dogs & Herringbone

  1. Susan W says:

    When I was a student at Adelphi University in 1952, I was selected by one of my teachers to represent the college at a poetry reading festival held at a downtown Brooklyn hotel. Students from different colleges were allowed to select two poems to read at the festival – and two well-known poets would be there to hear us read. One of the poets was Marianne Moore, who then was living in Brooklyn, where I grew up. My eye caught an entry on your PSP website about the poet Elizabeth Bishop, where you mention that she and Marianne Moore were good friends.

    That got me to thinking about the poems I’d read at the festival, both by Edwin Arlington Robinson, I looked but couldn’t find one of them online, so Saturday morning I went over to my local library and with the help of the very determined reference librarian went on a merry online chase trying to find it. She finally looked into some obscure old poetry magazine/journal, which listed Robinson’s poems. We discovered that the spelling of the poem was Flammonde – a double-m, not one as I had remembered it. (You’d think Google would have thought to give us that double-m option, but it didn’t.) Anyway, the dear librarian printed it out for me, I blew her a kiss, and I had a good time reading the poem after so many years.

    You see, Marianne Moore had given me (and probably all the festival participants) a copy of her book of collected poems. She inscribed my copy, said she’d enjoyed my reading, and tucked a photograph of herself into the book. She said she had particularly appreciated that I had read the poem so that the thoughts were uppermost and not end-of-the-line rhyming. At one time I had tucked my papers with the festival info and my poem into Ms. Moore’s book. They were not there when I looked into the faded-pink-covered book on Saturday, but that’s where this new copy will go for future reference.

    What a nice way to end a Friday–roaming around on the Purple Scooter website. Thanks for your invitation to take a ride, which led to that unanticipated pleasant scoot down memory lane.

    BTW, Edwin Arlington Robinson is America’s poet laureate of unhappiness. In patiently crafted verse of great sonority, he portrays men and women suffering from life’s ordeals yet striving to understand and master their fates. Robinson’s tragic vision had its roots in a youth spent in the small town of Gardiner, Maine. So sensitive that he claimed he came into the world “with his skin inside out,” he once told a fellow poet that at six he sat in a rocking chair and wondered why he’d been born.

  2. Katharina M says:

    It is quite amazing what you have done with this website and I am in awe of Gen’s writing and poetry.

  3. Bess H says:

    I’m not sure if there’s a difference between “old” Churchillian rhyme and “new” Churchillian rhyme, but I think in this context the rhyme refers to Churchill’s famous poetic way with words that inspired people, especially during the war. I happened to come upon an article that discusses this very subject, Churchill’s way with words, that could add to this topic. http://www.ashbrook.org/publicat/onprin/v9n5/hayward.html

    But no matter what rhyme, Sea Dogs is rollicking good fun.

  4. Joy P says:

    I love the way the website is organized and the poetry is presented, with a lovely profile of the writers and multiple photos of them along with their poetry. And we can add our own poetry! I think that this website would be a treasure trove for teachers and workshop leaders focused on poetry. What a wonderful, inspiring, easy-to-use resource! It makes me want to start a poetry workshop.

  5. Valeria Gula says:

    I like the helpful information you give in your articles. I’m bookmarking your weblog and will check here regularly. I’m learning so much. Good luck.

  6. E.Busbey says:

    I think other website proprietors should take this site as a model. It’s very clean and has an excellent user-friendly style and design, let alone the content.

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