From ‘The Tempest’


 (Poem No.43 of my favourite short poems)

the tempest

The master, the swabber, the boatswain, and I,

(  William Shakespeare:  From “The Tempest”)

The master, the swabber, the boatswain, and I,
The gunner, and his mate,
Loved Mall, Meg, and Marian, and Margery,
But none of us cared for Kate;

For she has a tongue with a tang,
Would cry to a sailor, Go hang!
She loved not the savour of tar nor of pitch;
Yet a tailor might scratch her where’er she did itch.
Then, to sea, boys, and let her go hang!

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W.H.Auden composed a wistful, haunting update of Shakespeare’s song which looks back with nostalgia but no regrets to an earlier life  . . . 

Song Of The Master And Boatswain

At Dirty Dick’s and Sloppy Joe’s
We drank our liquor straight,
Some went upstairs with Margery,
And some, alas, with Kate;
And two by two like cat and mouse
The homeless played at keeping house.

There Wealthy Meg, the Sailor’s Friend,
And Marion, cow-eyed,
Opened their arms to me but I
Refused to step inside;
I was not looking for a cage
In which to mope my old age.

The nightingales are sobbing in
The orchards of our mothers,
And hearts that we broke long ago
Have long been breaking others;
Tears are round, the sea is deep:
Roll them overboard and sleep.

 

By:  W H Auden

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For those who would like to listen to spoken versions of these two poems, YouTube links are given below . . .

The Tempest: “The Master, the Swabber, the Boatswain, and I”

Music composed by Donna Kendall Stearns (www.DonnaKendallStearns.com)
Sung by Ilan Caplan

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“Song of The Master and Boatswain” by W.H. Auden (read by Tom O’Bedlam) . . .

‘Song Of The Master And Boatswain’

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8 thoughts on “From ‘The Tempest’

  1. I love this piece from The Tempest (I coincidentally reviewed the play today!) and I like to think that the ‘Kate’ is a sly reference to Katherina aka Kate from his earlier comedy The Taming of the Shrew – my favourite Shakespeare comedy!

    Liked by 1 person

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