for Hara and Thanasis
Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean – roll!
Ten thousand dinghies perished here in vain,
Their frail and freighted flotsam swallowed whole
With bubbling groan. Now nothing doth remain
To mark the earth with ruin; the salt demesne
Which guards this pebbled strand has washed away
Each death as if it were a drop of rain,
A tear soon drowned among the waves’ wild play.
Such as creation’s dawn beheld, thou roll’st today.
Assyria, NATO, Carthage, EU, Rome –
Unceasing as the seas that beat these shores
And violent as the thunder in the foam,
The empire of the whale has closed its jaws
On those made homeless by its endless wars.
Weighed down by so much reckless hope, they told
Their desperate stories to the sea’s applause,
Until the tide of tv cameras rolled
Away, and stranger, slave or savage, all were sold.
The beach at Eftalou on northern Lesvos is where the Syrian refugees arrived by sea from the Turkish mainland earlier this year. This poem borrows several lines, as well as the Spenserian stanza, from Byron’s Childe Harold Canto IV.
Andy Croft was born in 1956 in Cheshire. He went to Nottingham University and taught Literature and Creative Writing for Leeds University’s adult education department, in Middlesbrough from 1983-1996.He has published many volumes of poetry and several novels and other books, for both adults and children. He writes a regular poetry column for the Morning Star and runs Smokestack Books.