Neil Rathmell – writer

150+ essays on literary topics


Poems, I always think, are best read singly. One of the most successful poetry publishing projects in my lifetime was Poems on the Underground. Just one short poem to read on your journey and remember all day. This page is a bit like that. One poem at a time, each taking the place of the one before, like stops on the Underground.


Once a mariner hauled his boat
Onto the golden sand
Turned his back on the reckless sea
With a wave of his hand.

Found a woman to be his wife
Pretty as she could be
Bought some land and built her a house
With its back to the sea.

Looked after her as good men should
As good as he could be
Lay with no one but her at night
With his back to the sea.

But every day he heard the wail
Of wind-beleaguered waves
And every night he heard the sigh
Of sailors in their graves.

And every night the moon-dark waves
Lapped at his land-locked bed
And every day the seagulls came
Screaming to wake the dead.

Once a mariner hauled his boat
Back to the faithless sea
Leaving his wife at home in bed
Lonely as she could be.

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