King Of The Western Sea
King of the Western Sea;
He’s King of the Western Sea.
Means nothing at all
To the King of the Western Sea.
There he stands
On sun kissed sands.
The memory lingers
The flasks of tea
And the ribald laughter.
The end of a salt caked day
Spent on breezy sands
Amidst the spray,
And seagulls call,
And the songs we sang
The noisy, effervescent sea.
Children screaming; tumbling
And holding hands
To the sound
And the trump of distant bands.
As music from a whirling Fair
Sends memories spinning into the air.
And above the hurdy-gurdy noise
A shout is heard,
“Come on, you boys”
As a Laughing Clown
Throws a challenge down:
“Five goes for a penny”
“Three down to win”.
Will we go on the Ghost Train?
Dare we go in?
Playing on the beach
It’s so easy to recall
The hawk and the screech
Of a Punch and Judy stall.
And the days when castles
Built in the sands
Were important defenders of seaside lands.
The candy floss kiosk; the ice cream chimes
Whipping up memories of slippery climbs
Over limpet covered shoreline rocks,
As we slithered into barnacled, starfish pools;
Stepping on seaweed, which squeaked and popped.
Scattering tiny pebbles which plipped and plopped.
Till the end of days:
When the sun went down
And the playful Monarch renounced his Crown.
Softly, we hummed and chuckled
As eyelids closed and tired limbs buckled.
The King of the Western Sea went home,
Away from the beach and the Pleasure Dome.
Back to a painted, tainted, red brick land
Of castles built more of cement than sand.
Far out of sight and out of bounds
To the distant, fading, seaside sounds
That tumble still in the winds that sing
Old tunes that cling to the bay.
And all this long, and silent passing while
The grey, sea horse crested sea
Heaves; and swells.
Surfing; swiftly rushing up to me:
Swirling softly, as the shifting shale
Slips back to the sea.
And as a blustery gale attacks the land.
The next wave crashes,
Thumping down on the sand,
Bringing the blue-grey boiling sea
Ever closer to the shore;
Ever closer to me;
Ever closer to the King of the Western Sea.
© David Shoestring
(see Poem Notes below)
The idea for this verse came from the fact that many years ago we lived in a waterside village on the River Yealm, an estuary village very close to the southern coastal town of Plymouth in the UK. Every now and then, an exceptionally low tide would reveal a ‘sand-bar’ in the middle of the estuary, and which was normally completely submerged and just navigational nuisance to the local sailing fraternity.
But on one or two days in the year, this new land would magically appear for an hour or two, and it was something of a tradition for village locals to sail or row out to the Bar which offered the romance of being a newly discovered ‘island’ as far as our children were concerned, and for some of the parents too I suspect. Here I try to recapture the feeling of that day.
As I thought more about this day, the memories broadened to encompass other days spent beside the sea and indeed of my own childhood summers spent on the Welsh coast where my parents had a caravan. Rhyl in particular I remember, for its broad beach; its Fun Fair and a seemingly endless number of souvenir shops, novelty rock emporiums and cheap cafes along its seafront. Aberystwyth, more sedate; more learned with its stone-built University buildings fronting the shoreline, but with a more turbulent, more rewarding sea.
As one gets older, there is a natural tendency towards nostalgia. In some ways, this verse is obviously a very personal look backwards, perhaps to a time and a pace of life that we remember as being slower; simpler and certainly less technologically complex. Some of these memories too are incorporated here.
Will we go on the Ghost train? Dare we go in?
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