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The Sinking of the Santa Fe

A clipper proud majestic
just three weeks out at sea
The captain in his cabin
with the ships cat on his knee
Her sails unfurled the rigging tight
her crew all down below
A tempest in her infancy
once born began to grow.

Now darkness it was falling
then from high up in the nest
Captain there be a storm for sure
she’s blowing nor, nor west
Make fast the sails batten down
you boy fetch me rum
The captain knew as the boson did
the terror yet to come.

Now the sea danced high in anger
danced to the tempest’s tune
Turbulent waves whipped by the wind
seemed to reach up for the moon
Then suddenly the mizzen snapped
splintering wood then pain
As the captain clung to a twisted rope
calling his sweethearts name.

Poor cabin boy young Linus
lay on the sea washed deck
Pinned by the fallen rigging
with canvas across his neck
Help me help I beg you
then the boson spied him there
Sailor hurry help the boy
be sure that you take care.

The captain stood on the deck now
telescope to his eye
Boson we’re not landward
I pray thee tell me why
Captain Sir the beam’s gone
jammed be our rudder too
The Santa Fe runs with the wind
there’s nothing I can do.

The a sudden crash and lightning
the forward mast came down
It trapped the helmsman by the chest
from him there came no sound
Help us help dear god on high
pray tell us how we’ve sinned
A cry of desperation torn
forgotten on the wind.

To hell it is we travel
down in the ocean deep
The devil Neath his watery grave
out haunted souls to keep
The boson slipped and stumbled
a curse and then a prayer
Why are we made to suffer
is there a god up there.

Suddenly amid the storm
the cook from the galley blind
An image of death and torment
in his frightened mind
His face all torn and bloodied
embedded with splinters of wood
Then a scream of utter anguish
from beneath his sailcloth hood.

Still the waves they crashed and pounded
wrenching at the hull
Her broken back now leaking
her cargo bay near full
The deck’s awash with water
her crew now crushed or drowned
The body of Linus the cabin boy
disappeared without a sound
Then suddenly out of the darkness
towering up so high
A rocky cliff appeared
like a shadow across the sky
Beckoning yea beckoning
silent fingers made of rock
The shipwreck shepherd calling – as if mustering his flock

Now mid splintered wood and canvas
anchor chain and flesh
A ship that only a week ago
the quayside vicar blessed
Finally dancing on granite spires
ripped and torn descending
Swallowed in the dead of night
just as the storm was ending.

And what of her captain driven insane
as he laughed into the night
Tied to the wheel defiant
as she slipped down out of sight
Broken defeated journey done
finally smashed in two
Matchwood on the jagged rocks
with naught her crew could do.

Yet the tale’s not done till it’s ended
one survivor that struggled ashore
With a memory that lingers forever
it had lost all nine lives and more
For Lincoln the ship’s cat had leapt from
the middle of his dead masters back
Upwards and over the rocky cliff face
a shadowy shape that was black.

So ended it is finally over
a tragedy so long ago
How many were lost in the tempest
no one was destined to know
We recall her fine captain her boson
a poor injured boy on the deck
Revisited now is it haunted
the ill-fated Santa Fe wreck.

I beseech me my friend so to tell me
why in silence to sea you do stare
Could it be that you search for a memory
does a friend or a brother lie there
The he turned back to face me I saw naught
but an ivory skeletal grin
A thin bony finger now pointing
like a sign post as if to my sin.

But there’s more to this tale I’ve not told yet
of the terrible deed that was done
Of the wreckers up there on the cliff face
the lanterns the laughter the rum
It’s so long now I scarcely remember
as a boy on that treacherous night
How my father his friend aye and others
watched the Santa Fe sink out of sight.

And yet you still stand strong and silent
pray tell me what is you be
Are you merely a spirit returning
taunting and punishing me
For the sins of my father forgotten
for betrayal revenge for your life
At your loss of your dreams for the future
of your parents your family your wife.

Now the lightning does crash bringing thunder
I strain just to see in the light
How the shadowy figure does shimmer
as it turns and is lost from my sight
Must I answer for the sins of my father
for that terrible night must I pay
For the loss of the lives and the treasure
of the clipper once called Santa Fe

Style / type: 
Free verse
Review Request (Intensity): 
I want the raw truth, feel free to knock me on my back
Review Request (Direction): 
What did you think of the rhythm or pattern or pacing?
How does this theme appeal to you?
Last few words: 
I based this on an old sepia print I saw in a book althought the name of the ship and fate were different from as described
Editing stage: 


You lose the rhythm in S2 L6, and deeper into the poem the line length grows by a few syllabuls. You would do better to lay out this in standard quatrains that echo the rhyme scheme. also its helps to avoid archaic terms, even though you you are writing about a bygone era. This would have had more dramatic impact and given you more scope, if you had used the present tense, not telling the story from afar. Your punctuation is also lacking in places, a few commas where appropriate would help the reader maintain the rhythm. The short metre you have chosen is not the best for long poems, if you look at Pope for example his line lenghts are closer to a normal conversational length, which is about 12 syllabuls, using this length avoids the dah de dah de dah rhythm of shorter line lengths like yours which can become monotonous when used in a long poem like this. That's about all the crits i can think of, apart from this its only the format of the internet itself that will limit the appeal of this work, the net being a a difficult place to asses long poems because of the need to scoll, copy and paste etc not to mention people's short attention span.
the section below seemed for some reason to ignore the scheme you had chosen, i have edited it to show what i mean, all the best ross
Still the waves they crashed and pounded
wrenching at the hull
Her broken back now leaking
her cargo bay near full GOOD HALF RHYME,

The deck’s awash with water AWASH IS SLIGHTLY ARCHAIC
her crew now crushed or drowned
The body of Linus the cabin boy
disappeared without a sound

Then suddenly out of the darkness
like a shadow across the sky

Beckoning yea beckoning YEA IS ARCHAIC
The shipwreck shepherd calling –
as if mustering his flock GOOD IMAGE

Wow this fair swept the rudder out of my hands,
as I followed with eagerness the tale you spun.

And why not archaic in such a poem Ross?
I am sure Ross gave some sound advice,
I shall perhaps peruse it more thoroughly,
when I am not so seized by the tale.

Swashbuckling, great fun.
Love Ann.

"The image of yourself which you see in a mirror Is dead,
but the reflection of the moon on water, lives." Kenzan.

Ross has this well in hand, and has more good advice than i. I'd just like to say i enjoyed the story and the battle with the elements. Regards Roscoe..

Roscoe Llane,

Religion will rip your faith off, and return
for the mask of disbelief that's left.

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