|An oldie of mine--|
a shrimp trawler working off Carolina Beach
During the Australian Open this year, there was a commercial advertising Melbourne as a travel destination. The commercial showed scenes from around that part of the island continent, as a woman read from a poem by E. J. Brady titled: “Far and Wide.” I’d never heard of Brady, but I liked the poem and though the advertisement was wonderful (except that they over played it, as it seemed to run several times every set). Wanting to know more, I goggled E. J. Brady and learned that he was an Australian, the son of Irish immigrants, who was born in New South Wales. He started to work as a clerk on the wharves in Sydney, but lost his job in a strike due to his labor activities. But it was there, as he encountered seamen from all over the world, that he developed a love for the sea. After leaving the wharf, he held a variety of positions writing and editing for newspapers, many that supported labor politics. His poetry captures the love of the ocean and the challenge of the seas as he utilizes the slang of the seamen. He is also known for his love for the Land Down Under.
In “With Coal to Calloa,” he writes about a young seaman leaving his lover on the docks, but a fire breaks out in the ship and it burns and is destroyed just ten days from its destination. In “The Blazing Star,” he writes about a solid brigantine sailing the seas out of Boston, around the horn, to the North Pacific whaling waters and makes good time like the Flying Dutchman. But probably my favorite song is “Coast of Dreams,” as it speaks to me in my current condition. Brady died in 1952.
Here are some excerpts of “Coast of Dreams.” The poem begins:
The window of my sick room fronts
A screw-tormented bay,
When porcine Commerce squeals and grunts,
And wallows day by day.
Fat, vulgar tramps, in moving cloud
Of smoke, encircled round,
With bull-voiced sirens bellow loud
For pilots-outward bound.
Lately, I know what it is like to be in a “sick room” and long to be on the water, or to be free to travel and explore. A few verses later, these lines really caught my attention.
The lusts of travel, like a net,
My sick-bed fancies snare;
My thoughts on outward currents set
To glories otherwhere.
The liner’s but a huge hotel;
She holds no charm for me;
My Soul demands the heave and swell
Of decks that lip the Sea.
Even while laid up, I have thoughts of glories around the globe waiting to be experienced… and a desire for the heave and swell. The poem closes:
Aye! Surely as all flesh is grass,
The far lands fairer seem,
So roving hearts for e’er must past
Adown the Coasts of Dream.