Tacking Ship Off Shore
By Walter Mitchell
The weather-leech of the topsail shivers,
The bowlines strain, and the lee-shrouds slacken,
The braces are taut, the lithe boom quivers,
And the waves with the coming squall-cloud blacken.
Open one point on the weather-bow,
Is the light-house tall on Fire Island Head.
There 's a shade of doubt on the captain's brow,
And the pilot watches the heaving lead.
I stand at the wheel, and with eager eye
To sea and to sky and to shore I gaze,
Till the muttered order of "Full and by!"
Is suddenly changed for "Full for stays!"
The ship bends lower before the breeze,
As her broadside fair to the blast she lays;
And she swifter springs to the rising seas,
As the pilot calls, "Stand by for stays!"
It is silence all, as each in his place,
With the gathered coil in his hardened hands,
By tack and bowline, by sheet and brace,
Waiting the watchword impatient stands.
And the light on Fire Island Head draws near,
As, trumpet-winged, the pilot's shout
From his post on the bowsprit's heel I hear,
With the welcome call of "Ready! About!"
No time to spare! It is touch and go;
And the captain growls, "Down helm! hard down!"
As my weight on the whirling spokes I throw,
While heaven grows black with the storm-cloud's frown.
High o'er the knight-heads flies the spray,
As we meet the shock of the plunging sea;
And my shoulder stiff to the wheel I lay,
As I answer, "Ay, ay, sir! Ha-a-rd a-lee!"
With the swerving leap of a startled steed
The ship flies fast in the eye of the wind,
The dangerous shoals on the lee recede,
And the headland white we have left behind.
The topsails flutter, the jibs collapse,
And belly and tug at the groaning cleats;
The spanker slats, and the mainsail flaps;
And thunders the order, "Tacks and sheets!"
Mid the rattle of blocks and the tramp of the crew,
Hisses the rain of the rushing squall:
The sails are aback from clew to clew,
And now is the moment for "Mainsail, haul!"
And the heavy yards, like a baby's toy,
By fifty strong arms are swiftly swung:
She holds her way, and I look with joy
For the first white spray o'er the bulwarks flung.
"Let go, and haul!" 'T is the last command,
And the head-sails fill to the blast once more:
Astern and to leeward lies the land,
With its breakers white on the shingly shore.
What matters the reef, or the rain, or the squall?
I steady the helm for the open sea;
The first mate clamors, "Belay, there, all!"
And the captain's breath once more comes free.
And so off shore let the good ship fly;
Little care I how the gusts may blow,
In my fo'castle bunk, in a jacket dry.
Eight bells have struck, and my watch is below.
Tax Day was yet another glorious spring day in the DC area. I got to have lunch with gblvr, rant about baseball in Washington disrupting my UPN-watching, read lots of articles and watch lots of video clips of the Enterprise wrap party for an article summarizing it, discover that Lupin is still not going to let me write about Lockhart, become the meanest mother in the world (again!) because I made my son start reading the book due Monday that he has put off for a week rather than letting him go over to a friend's to play Runescape, remain the meanest mother in the world (again!) by telling my other son that his father's grounding of him from video games still stands when he is not home, have dinner with my parents, review Enterprise and watch a few minutes of the Mind Meld DVD, which is every bit as much of a slasher's dream as I had hoped and I'm not even a quarter of the way through it yet.
Speaking of Enterprise, here is my very, very scathing "Bound" review at TrekToday, and I didn't even set phasers on kill; I didn't feel like there was any point in unleashing the full feminist rant on something so obvious. It was worse than any episode of the original series, because the original series was the original series and has being made in the '60s as an excuse for some of its stupidity; Enterprise has NO excuse, not with so many fans still trying to save it even though the sets have been packed away and the actors are out auditioning for other shows. In fact, there was only one thing that amused me in "Bound". I have my own theory on why Tucker was immune to the Orion women's pheremones, so much so that he could stride onto the bridge and save the ship from the scary scary women: deep down, Tucker doesn't go for girls! "I see who's the true master of this vessel," purrs Hot Orion Slave Girl #1, but Tucker doesn't even blink. "You're sweet-talking the wrong guy," he says, and declares his devotion to Archer. Mating bond with T'Pol, my ass: Tucker's not thinking about women at that moment, period, he's thinking about his captain. Malcolm will be so jealous when he wakes up from that phase pistol shot!
fannish5: So you're cleaning all the pollen off your TV screen and a genie pops out. In return for freeing her, she offers to grant you 5 changes to any TV show(s) you wish. With only 5 wishes, what do you wish for?
1. The complete disappearance from canon of the last nine episodes of La Femme Nikita.
2. The eighth season and following that X-Files should have had rather than the ones it got.
3. The disappearance of Cordelia from Buffy and Angel except as a once-in-a-blue-moon guest star.
4. A conclusion to VR5...an episode, a miniseries, another season...
5. I feel like an idiot saying this, after all this time, but...Janeway/Chakotay. Was anything so obvious ever botched so badly in the history of television?
1. Who inspires you? See my icon.
2. Who disappoints you? 9/10 of the elected officials of the United States. And an unfortunate percentage of the people who elected them.
3. Who makes you angry? See above.
4. Who makes you laugh? Monty Python.
5. Who do you love? This is the kind of question that makes these fiver things silly. If you read this journal you already know who I love. I'm not bothering with thefridayfive, which is about illness.
My sister is coming to town Sunday. Her plan is to drop her younger two daughters off with my parents and then stay with her older daughter and husband in a downtown hotel so that they can see the Smithsonian unburdened by the little kids. My parents seem to feel that I should have saved time to visit her during the brief time that she will actually be spending with our family; since I had no idea when that hour would be, however, until tonight, we had already made plans for my in-laws (whom we have not seen since before we went to England) to come down. Is it really conceivable that she could have a right to be offended that I have not worked my schedule around hers, when it is likely that I will be helping to babysit for her younger kids while she is off with the eldest and did not invite any of my family to join her?
Sometimes my mother's guilt trips are so effective that I can't even figure out where my obligations lie. For instance, my mother has issues with my father's brother's second wife, which I consider to be fairly trivial complaints having more to do with cultural differences than anything personal. I am undoubtedly biased because my uncle's wife has been extremely generous and nice to us and our kids when we have visited them, and she's been very friendly to my in-laws as well when they're not even relatives of hers by marriage. Is it my responsibility to defend my uncle's wife because I like her, or to sympathize with my mother who is generally quite generous toward people and I can't quite figure out her beef here over such small matters?
It's supposed to be a gorgeous weekend but we have two Hebrew school model seders, two children's birthday parties, two soccer games and assorted relatives. And I am sure it will be fun doing all these things, but I hope I get a quiet hour in the woods somewhere.
Seagulls approach the rigging of Grand Turk in port at Whitby.