Voyage to Japan – MV Hermod

The uncoiling wave hovers a moment

caught between sunglance and foam.

Catch the incandescent moment in a loop of light

and hold it to yourself alone,

Catch the spangled spray in the finger tips at the minds end

And lie spread-eagled on a seconds dome.


Passing the Pescadores a flying fish lept and flew,

a drifting tern, nodding at the sea, tripped a wing on a wavelet

and turned again towards her barren home.

The dreaming Pescadores!

Sunwink on spray and lighthouse blink,

a flying fish lept and flew before the prow's dividing wave.


The first sea-mists of Japan, the smoke haze of our ship

both vapours swirl together above the small

light at the mast head.

This much the ship has always known

but that far off coastal light and I on this damp deck

usually see the one without the other.


Between the word and the realisation

there's a space where none may go.

Even authors in their blind conceiving

know not the meaning of the seeds they sow.

Maybe the universal music master cannot understand the pain

that rings from his own bell's chime

and durst not seek an answer in a world he cannot know


July 1954