Tuesday Poem: “A Traveler Wrecked in Seas of Time” by Zireaux

The Little Prince

'...those secluded asteroid isles / where Saint-Exupéry’s prince is taken'

This post is dedicated to Ms. Daisy Green, whose favorite poem is Longfellow’s “The Village Blacksmith.” She has requested some verses, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to track down the exact stanza — or stanzas — she desires. I offer these as a possibility:

What made my island so unique?

She wasn’t like the others – I mean
those storied isles which through the ages
have charmed lost sailors, thinkers, sages,
attracted whalers, artists, libertines;
imprisoned rebels, convicts, exiles,
and men who crave prohibited sex-styles
(I’m thinking here of one poor Dutchman,
three hundred years ago, who for
that foul offense of being a “touch-man”
was left upon Ascension’s shore
to starve, with just his pen to rise in);
nor like those isles of demons, sirens,
harpies, sea-nymphs, Amazonians,
the ghosts of kings, the Laestrygonians;

or islands in clouds and welkin mists
where fairies live and Peter Pan
and Prospero and Caliban;
those secret realms of scientists,
deranged inventors like Zoreau
(strange typo, that, I meant Moreau!);
or isolated isles where names
find glory in their quarantines,
as Robben spread Mandela’s fame,
or Rikers sold ‘low-riding’ jeans,
or Château d’If changed Dantès to Cristo,
or what’s that island in San Francisco
where tourists flock (just as we know
they’ll one day tour Guantánamo)?

Like none of those my darling was!
Like none of those which constellate
the sphere of books! And oh what great
a sum, what range of islands does
a reader find who journeys far!
What different shapes and styles there are!
How many sea-enveloped lands
have given beds to castaways
and shipwrecked sailors! From ancient sands
which sifted through debris to raise
a slave of Egypt from the surf
and rest him on a verdant turf
all trimmed with grain and incense, lakes
and rivers, ivory, apples, snakes;

to isles of cannibals and skin-mad
colossi who crave that most delicious
cuisine: captive à la carte (Ulysses
blinded the Cyclops; so did Sinbad,
who also met – another chapter
if I recall – an island raptor
who bombed his ship with monstrous stones);
to all those vile-lands that troubled poor Jason,
that isle of rank and murderous crones,
that iceberg isle that nearly encased him;
the isle of Talos, brute of bronze;
the Tohus and Bohus, the Macreons
and all those island beasts that thrive
in Pantegruel, books four and five;

to island-reigning centaurs, dragons,
unicorns, those poor Jurassic
dinosaurs (see Crichton’s classic),
the Liliputians, Brobingnagians,
isles of warring kings and queens
and flying islands rarely seen
against the shimmering azure;
that penguin island France once faked;
ideal, imagined isles, obscure
utopias designed to make
more sense of this, our spinning isle
that hurls each second eighteen miles
around a flaring island sun!

Line none of those she was! Like none

South Pacific

'...sweet Liat on Bali-ha’i / who captivates that Cable guy'

of those secluded asteroid isles
where Saint-Exupéry’s prince is taken,
the isles of Huxley, Lawrence, Bacon,
and countless other islophiles;
Tahitian isles, the warm Marquesas,
or many other South Sea places
where traveling men would sate
there savage needs, and Melville found
his chirping Fay, and Loti’s mate
was courted, bedded, Christian-gowned
and wedded; and countless seraphinas
were inspired – like Wells’s Weena,
that girl who charms (in muted mime)
a traveler wrecked in seas of time;

or what’s her name (she’s also speechless),
oh yes, sweet Liat on Bali-ha’i
who captivates that Cable guy
– and O! Those balmy, palmy beaches!
The coral bays and floral leis,
where hula dancers gaily sway
to songs the ukuleles play…
O how these sumptuous island gardens
are like idyllic fruit buffets
inviting hungry packs of bards in!

And these are just in books! The oceans
of print! How many other island notions,
how many castaways, remade
Atlantisis and Robinsonades,

how many pirates and buried medallions
and secret island laboratories,
tribes of children, animal stories,
island dogs and shipwrecked stallions,
how many blessed isles appear
in other seas! In other spheres
of art! Those same nymphets exist
in Gauguin’s isles and slept with Brando
and in some movie version kissed
a stranded World War II commando;
on TV isles the same survivors
are landed to swallow bugs alive, or
meet that pair on Fantasy’s Wharf,
one debonair, the other a dwarf.

Those little humps of sand, the lone
dejected palm in those cartoons;
or groups of Giligans marooned
upon some island twilight zone.
Like none of those, I say! Unique,
I tell you! Barren, black and bleak!
A spec of sand, a bit of grit
within a vault of priceless gems;
that’s all she was – an isle unfit
beside her peers, eclipsed by them.
And yet, O reader, the fact is this:
Her matchless unattractiveness
– a somber rock of few pursuers –
is what most drew your poet to her.

See the works of other poets at Tuesday Poem blog.


Filed under Poetry by Zireaux

2 Responses to Tuesday Poem: “A Traveler Wrecked in Seas of Time” by Zireaux

  1. Such a fun poem. All those references to all those islands we know — I love that you include both Le Petit Prince and Gilligan! Fun stuff. I waited and waited to hear more about the island in question, but I like the colourful notes on all the others.

  2. immortalmuse

    A treasured comment, especially from you, Michelle, who knows islands like few others. And always great to meet Gilligan coevals. Did they have “Fantasy Island,” too, down under? More on the “island in question” this week. -Z