Hades' Ferry- A Sea Shanty

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Yo-ho-hear the song of a man, yo-ho, with a hundred souls in his pocket

He can get no sleep, he can get no rest, yo-ho, and he can get no peace

The rope is tight like a well-tuned cord yo-ho! Alas, but who's to walk it?

Yo-ho, to the docks, when Sun dawns, yo-ho, on the Harbor of injustice!

The bugle blows! All aboard! Yo-ho! A man and a hundred souls embark.

Ah, but a thousand despondent souls’ death-boat, yo-ho, is no Noah's ark.



Yo-ho! A sarcophagus in disguise, yo-ho floats clad in the skin of a godly ark

Dip-dip your hand deep-deep! Yo-ho! Deep-deep in your hole-ridden pocket!

Yo-ho! After you, I insist! Yo-ho, Hope has docked! You lucky souls embark!

A silver piece, The Golden Fleece! Yo-ho, Ithaca, land of solace and peace!

Yo-ho! Do not mind the plank! Yo-ho, It’s an ornament! Nobody's to walk it!

Yo-ho onwards to Canaan! Yo-ho! Milk and honey in the stead of injustice!



The irony blazes the liar’s ill tongue! Yo-ho! Every time he speaks of injustice,

For a million souls’ blood and sweat and tears, yo-ho, couldn't buy Noah's ark

The man laid his yellow brick path of rust. Yo-ho, and now he has to walk it.

Thirty bloodstained silver pieces, yo-ho, burn a hole inside the traitor’s pocket

The ship has sailed on a hundred souls. Yo-ho, on the coward’s mind’s peace

Yo-ho! He counts the dead in his head! Yo-ho, as his one hundred souls embark



Up it goes and down it goes! Yo-ho! On the boat of perdition they did embark

one hundred souls muffling the cries: "Yo-ho, wake up and smell the injustice.

Yo-ho! A song of hyenas and men! Yo-ho, of life and death, of war and peace.

Hades' ferry was temporary, yo-ho, the waves washed off the deceit of the ark.

Yo-ho and empty of a hundred souls the man’s dirty hands feel his fat pocket

Land ho! Your plank is all set! Yo-ho! All you fooled souls prepare to walk it!


Yo-ho! For the road to salvation was long.Yo-Ho. To die would be to walk it.

Yo-ho! And one hundred souls today, yo-ho, fought tooth and claw to embark”

Yo-ho, out of grandma’s mattress, yo-ho, and into the slaver’s greasy pocket!

Yo-ho, people of the free world, hear this song! Yo-ho, hear this tale of injustice.

Yo-ho and a hundred souls, yo-ho, today stepped onto Death’s paper and ink ark

Yo-ho, vain Ulysses, and you tricked Jason. Yo-ho and may you rest in peace.


P.S.    "S.O.S. " as in Sell Our Souls.


Dedicated to the millions that drown every day on their way to some fake promised land.

◄ The 21st Century Paradigm

Satan's Ark-A Sestina ►


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Mae Foreman

Sat 27th Jul 2019 20:36

Thank you Jaosn! The promise is a lie. It was my first effort on a sestina and I have always had a difficulty with rhythm which prompte the yo-hos! I think you'll like the next version better! Thank you my friend?

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Jason Bayliss

Sat 27th Jul 2019 15:18

The, "Promised land." Now there's a misleading term. Quite right Mae that people are sold a fake, a dream, and for so many it becomes a nightmare. Love this.

J. x

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Mae Foreman

Mon 22nd Jul 2019 18:39

Thank you so much for taking the time dear Fish! I did strip it off the yo-hos. I believe you read it. Yes rather a dark tale, a drunken sailors sea shanty was more what I had in mind and not pirate treasures or "yo-ho ho n' a bottla-rum!" ? I thought it kinda worked that's why I wrote a second version instead of rewriting it all from the start!
Thank you so much! ?

P.S. I am indeed all Sestina'd up but I had to exhaust all my potential, do my best, you know? The outcome could be admitedly better! But I don't think I'll be writing any more Sestina for a long time!

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Mon 22nd Jul 2019 16:14

I've been thinking (it does sometimes happen). Combining Sestina and Shanty could work by having the shanty/pirate song component as a complete (but variable) line taking its turn in each verse according to the Sestina sequencing.
When I first read the Yo-hos it was the Treasure Island pirate song that came to mind but then I thought no must be the Drunken Sailor Shanty. But of course it doesn't matter any sort of combination of both nautical themes could be made to sail the dark ship through our complacent seas.
But you're probably all Sestina'd out by now ?.
Go well

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Mae Foreman

Sun 21st Jul 2019 17:27

Hey Fish! Thank you very much. Now you are right about the "arc" thing, I meant a boat like Noah's ark. So I'm going to correct that! Thanks! As for the yo-hos they seem to be a misfit but I kinda like them!

Martin, thanks for stopping by! Perhaps I shouldn't have used such a famous painting after all! It's glorious and I'd love to see it up close. But maybe it's irrelevant to the spirit of the sea shanty/sestina!

And Tommy, now I get it! I think you're right.

Thank you all?

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Martin Elder

Sun 21st Jul 2019 17:13

I thought the painting was a Turner. There is quite a collection of them at the national gallery in London.
This definitely almost has the vibe of a sea shanty, but quite a perilous one when you talk about Hades and going across the river Styx.
Nice one Mae

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Sun 21st Jul 2019 17:01

Yo-ho Mae - Impressive, as Devon says a Sestina is not for the faint hearted or those in a hurry. A worthy and worthwhile theme to invest oneself in. As I say impressive.
Now just two things ? - I'm thinking that maybe? you mean 'ark' (as in boat) and not 'arc' (as in rainbow)? 'Arc' could work (sort of) but ...?
Ok now this 'Yo-ho' thing. I sort of get why you've done it but imho you don't need it. The meat of the poem is strong enough and rhythmic enough without it. It is the repetitions at the end of the lines that is the strength of a Sestina. Yes if you scrapped the Yo-hos there would be quite a bit of reshaping up to do but...
Of course as always it's the poet's poem. ?

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Tommy Carroll

Sun 21st Jul 2019 16:18

"He can get no sleep, he can get no rest, yo-ho, and he can get no peace..."

This is what I mean by assertion Mae ?

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Mae Foreman

Sun 21st Jul 2019 14:48

The painting? Yes Turner! I found it on the internet and just loved it! But for the sake of avoiding misunderstandings I have to state here that I present no assertions. This is a story that I made up and dedicated to people who have both been victims of treachery as well as received help by people from both sides of the ocean. I don't mean to point fingers nor do I get into politics. Ever! It's the people that I care about, the people and their exploits that move me and the people's pain that makes me hurt. In this pieces and in most of my poems I focus on that.
Thank you for seeing more than I do into my piece ?

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Tommy Carroll

Sun 21st Jul 2019 14:40

There is much to be grasped in this work Mae.
I am making that effort.
Turner perhaps?


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Mae Foreman

Sun 21st Jul 2019 09:58

Thanks for reading and commenting Tommy! It does need several readings ,it was a first effort and it doesn't flow all that well, the rhythm changes a lot from verse to verse... I'd love to hear your thoughts after those several readings and investigations! Thank you Tommy! ?


P.S. Boy, you sure have a lot of double letters in your name, I just observed! Double "m" in your first name, double "r" and double "l" in your last name!

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Tommy Carroll

Sun 21st Jul 2019 00:12

...but much more hangs and waits explanation. As a reader I would say that your verse requires several readings and that some investigation as to the assertions claimed in the piece. But I will (will) need more of the sestina. Tommy

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Tommy Carroll

Sat 20th Jul 2019 23:46

The words and suppressed anger to me is of loss and betrayal. There are accusations and knowlage of those responcible.
Ships and the drowned.

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Mae Foreman

Sat 20th Jul 2019 19:12

Haha! Thanks Devon! I'm grinning ear-to ear right now! It was a bit of a mind F@#k at first but I think I'd like to research more, maybe there's another form in which the ending sounds better rhyme-wise. Something that'll make it roll off the tongue better! I'm looking into it!

Devon Brock

Sat 20th Jul 2019 19:04

"out of Grandma's mattress and into the slaver's pocket" - Yes, I think the message is clear. Regarding the cadence, I thought it a refreshing new beat on an old form. I was grinning ear to ear while reading it.


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Mae Foreman

Sat 20th Jul 2019 18:59

Yo-ho! My solitairy liker! I worked two days staright and it's still quaint and uneven and the cadence is off and so on! Something tells me I'll be editting for another three days! But yo-ho I did it! Hope it means something too, cause I actually had something to say. Do I get the message across? Also any suggestions?
Thank you Devon?

Devon Brock

Sat 20th Jul 2019 18:53

Mae, Yo ho that is great stuff. I hope you don't need a headache tab. That is one the toughest forms I know and you tore it straight down.


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