When I was young, the captain said,

I climbed the twisted cherry tree

And clutching branches, I was free

Until the tree was dry and dead.


When I was older and was strong

Three broken bridges under stars

Were blocked by giants thick with scars

And it was mine to right the wrong.


When I was old, the captain said,

I sat beside the whispering waves

And heard their talk of opened graves

And wandered back to sleep in bed.


Now I have seen the tree in flower

And crossed the bridges that were banned

And felt a breath, and felt a hand

It is the place, it is the hour.


Copyright Simon Banks 2012

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  1. Do you write poetry often? I find it fascinating to read poetry and to try to depict the meaning from it. I feel that there are many ways that words can be interpreted, so something that the author may have intended may not be what the reader’s inclination is. Where did you get the inspiration for this poem? It sounds to me like the focal point is on a man who goes through many trials and tribulations through life. He understands that at different ages in his life he has different roles and must learn to perform these roles well.

  2. Oh and to wrap it up when he reaches the end of his life, he is content with things and has seen a lot throughout his life. He has succeeded in his “roles” and has accomplished what he had hoped for. I really like the poem!

    • Thanks, Miss Marathon. May I call you Miss Marathon? You’re absolutely right in your reading of the powm. Of course as you also say it’s often possible to read different meanings into poems (though I reject the academic orthodoxy that it’s pointless to ask what an author meant), but I think this one is actually fairly straightforward. As you say, there’s a sense of achievement as this man reflects, though also a degree of nostalgia maybe.

      I don’t really recall how this one was born except that I think I was walking along the shore near where I live. The sea helps thoughts like this. That may explain why I made him a captain (a sea captain, I think, rather than an army captain, if only because army captain is a young man’s rank). The Captain is not based on any particular person. As with a lot of my poems, there are some images in the poem which have an archetypal feel, but the Captain is an individual.

      Yes, I write poetry quite often and a lot of it is posted here!

      • It really takes a certain art to be able to express messages through context such as poems. You certainly have the knack for it! I love reading poems 🙂

        Oh and yes! You may gladly call me “Miss Marathon”! 🙂

  3. Nice work! A life’s journey in four stanzas well done sir.

    • Thanks, emmylgant! That’s real praise. I alternate (well, not strictly, not ABABABAB) between poems that are strictly regular and shaped like this and ones that are impulsive with hidden shape. I enjoy writing both.


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