I have always been completely fascinated by Ships in Bottles. I’m certain the very first clipper ship I ever saw was a miniature in a bottle.
I saw it at a house my parents visited when I was but a child. But to me, it was one of the most amazing things I had ever seen. I never forgot how beautiful it was with its wee sails and rigging and every detail so exact. And yes it was on a blue ocean and there in front of a window, with bright sunshine lighting the interior of the bottle, it seemed all too real. And then, of course, the most fascinating enigma of all, was “How did they get that ship in that bottle?”
And so now, for Christmas, I found a very simple kit for building a ship in a bottle and bought it for my 7-year-old grandson. Now just because I have a great love, and fascination, with ships in a bottle will not mean that he has. There is no context in his experience to give him the same fascination.
So I wrote a wee book for him with ship poems, ship-in-a-bottle history notes, and my own story of my first encounter with the ship in a bottle when I was a child. I will spare you the reading of the entire book. I only want to share with you a silly poem I wrote for his little book.
SHIP IN A BOTTLE, SAIL SAFELY AWAY
They were sailing, fast a-sailing
In a sunbeam on the shelf
Sea a-foaming, sails a-billowing
Captained by a tiny elf.
They were rum-mied up and jolly
Singing songs of sailing fame
And I could not help but want so much
To join them in their game.
To face the sea from the upper deck
And see flat waters with a curve
They call’d to me, “It is your watch.”
I thought that quite absurd.
The tiny ropes were coiled up tight
Lifesavers in their places
The main sail billowed like a flying kite
With the ocean spraying traces.
I could not stay my little hand
The sea called out to me
So I took the ship down from the shelf
To sea what I could see.
I turned it over in my hands
To have a better look
And yes, I saw the captain there,
And I think I saw the cook.
I pulled the cork out of the bottle
Looked in that porthole small
Then suddenly the bottle slipped
I saw it bump the wall.
I scooped both hands so quickly
Down near the hard slate floor
And in a nick of time I caught
And saved the Misty Moor.
Tiny voices rummied up
All danced and cried with glee
And in that careless wreckless dance
They fell into the sea.
Before I could cast my tweezers
Down the tiny bottle-neck
I saw the cook throw out life savers
And say, “Get these round your neck!”
They grabbed the tiny lemon candies
The LifeSavers that were chucked
And so managed to keep a-floating
Till with tweezers they were plucked.
I pinched their trousers in the backside
And pulled them up on the deck
And again I heard that same small voice
Muttering, “What the heck?”
So now they’re back there in the cabin
Of the tall ship, Misty Moor
And I am very grateful that
With my help, they did endure.
When ships are built in bottles
The crafting lends a charm
That will safely keep the real ship
Forever free from harm.
Later on the radio,
I heard something very odd
The real Moor was so embattled
Only help could come from God.
They said she clashed with giant waves,
Round the coast of Cull Eldees,
There was little hope she could be saved
In those rough, tempestuous seas.
But a miniature in a bottle
Made with patience and with care
Gave salvation to the Big Ship
To escape the wild sea’s snare.
Because that mini-ship was bottled
The Big Ship was safe that day,
And the Misty Moor, at nightfall
Docked safely in the bay.
2009 Roberta Smith
Hope you enjoyed the poem.
Have a Very Happy Holiday Season!!