(Poem #74) Cargoes
Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir, Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine, With a cargo of ivory, And apes and peacocks, Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine. Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus, Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores, With a cargo of diamonds, Emeralds, amethysts, Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores. Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack, Butting through the Channel in the mad March days, With a cargo of Tyne coal, Road-rails, pig-lead, Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.
A lovely poem, and one that works on several levels. Of course, it is about progress, and nostalgia, and as such is somewhat unsubtle. But it is also a poem redolent with beauty; the beauty and mystery of strange and distant lands, and forever vanished times that linger yet in racial memory, the sensual, evocative beauty of gems and spices, the beauty of words and phrases that flow trippingly off the tongue. Masefield was truly a poet who could both appreciate and recapture the pleasures of the senses - he is far more descriptive than introspective (compare, for example, Keats' 'To a Skylark', Wordsworth's 'Daffodils' and Coleridge's 'Kublai Khan' for very different treatments of this kind of beauty). Incidentally, this is a lovely poem to recite subvocally - don't quite read it out loud, but form the words with your mouth as you read them. Glossary: moidore moi.do<e>r. Also 8 moyodore, moedor(e, moydor(e, moider, moidor. [Curruptly a. Pg. moeda d'ouro lit. `gold coin' (moeda money, ouro:-L. aurum gold). ] A gold coin of Portugal, current in England in the first half of the 18th century. In later use, the word survived as a name for the sum of 27s., which was approximately the value of the coin. -- OED m.