Monday, February 20, 2006

In the Shadow of Burnaby Light

A wooden tug steamer
Chehalis was christened
Honoring tribes of the woodlands.
At fifty-four tons, she churned through the bays
In the shadow of Burnaby Light.

Express to Vancouver
Straight from Seattle
Princess Victoria hurried.
She spotted the tug enshrouded in smoke
In the witness of Burnaby Light.

They crossed to the shallows
Steaming Chehalis
Chased by the Princess Victoria.
When neither would yeild, they toyed with the shoals
In the warning of Burnaby Light.

Confined in the narrows
Speed overtaking
Princess Victoria barreled.
The crew of Chehalis adjusted her course
In the hush below Burnaby Light.

Unable to harness
Deadly momentum
Decks through Chehalis were splintered.
Embraced by the waves were eight of her crew
In the shadow of Burnaby Light.

The Lost
--Percy James Chick
--W. Alfred Bertrand Hutton
--Mamie Louise Bryce
--Charles Barnett Benwell
--William Harrison Crawford
--Mah Hing

(This post is a collaboration with Sandra Ruttan. She took the gorgeous picture and filled me in on the history of this monument, which stands in Stanley Park on Brockton Point, Vancouver Harbor. On July 21, 1906, in the waters pictured, the express steamer Princess Victoria collided with, and sank, the wooden steam tug Chehalis. Half of her crew were lost. The disaster resulted in new ordinances prohibiting the passing of ships inside Burnaby Light. Many thanks, Sandra!!)


Sandra Ruttan said...

My thanks to you, Jason! What a beautiful way you have with words - I knew when I saw the photo that you would not only do it justice, but surpass it with poignant reflection.


Mindy Tarquini said...

Very nice. Congratulations to both of you. A worthy effort.

anne frasier said...

beautiful poem and beautiful photo.

Jess Riley said...

This reminded me a little of the Edmund was the 30th anniversary of that ship's sinking this past November, and I was really moved listening to some of the tributes on the local radio station.

(And yes, I do like the Gordon Lightfoot song... *sheepish grin*)

Rene said...

Oh, I liked that poem very much. I'm not much of a poetry reader myself but I liked the rhythm. Picture was perfect too.

Anonymous said...

Sandra, thank you for the kind words. :) When you proposed this post, and I read the history, I wanted to do it justice. Hopefully, I did.

Mindy, thanks!

Anne, =)

Jess, I like Gordon's song also! I'm especially fascinated by the way the sailors describe the wave action on fresh water. Faster. Harder. More deadly.

Anonymous said...

Rene, I appreciate that! I usually compose the meter first--however it strikes me at that moment. This one was influenced by the necessary repetition of "Princess Victoria."

Shesawriter said...

I love collaborations. Both the pic and the poem were fab.


Sandra Ruttan said...

Oh, I think you did Jason. I think you did a great job.

Jeff said...

Very nice, Jason. :)

Bernita said...

A Celtic cross like that stands by a church dedicated to St. Cuthbert, 13th-14th c., in the village of Eden Hall, Cumbria, England.
The cross replaces a trough where exchanges of food and goods were made during the plagues.
Eerie to see this photo, just days after I saw a photo of another.
But that's one of your skills, Jason - evocation.
Thank you both.

Anonymous said...

Tanya, the credit for this one goes solely to Sandra! It was her idea. :)

Lisa, I didn't know you're a salty soul. Very intriguing! I have a strange draw/unease about the sea. We have a small boat and once or twice a year, we take it into the open ocean out of Ocean City, NJ. Once, we went 15 miles out, where even the casinos of Atlantic City are no longer visible. Exhilarating and terrifying at the same time!

Terri, thanks!

Sandra, =D

Jeff, thanks!

Bernita, I'm fascinated--"where exchanges of food and goods were made during the plagues." Was it some kind of system to fight the spread of disease? A way of keeping people apart?

WannabeMe said...

Good job to both Jason and Sandra! It reads effortlessly and you can definitely feel the lull of the waves in the meter.

Bernita said...

I believe so, Jason.
There was great fear.
Some types of plague were spread atmospherically, so the precaution regarding plague victims or those who cared for them was unknowingly wise.

Also, I'd like to add I like very much your ballad-style variant repetition of Burnaby Light.

Linda said...

magnificent job Jason!

Kelly (Lynn) Parra said...

Very powerful together!! Great, Jason & Sandra!

Anonymous said...

Dana, thanks for commenting on the meter! For me, it's one of the most difficult, but reward aspects of poetry.

Bernita, yes, the instinct to stay away from each other in times of sickness transcends scientific understanding. I appreciate the comment about the repetition of the last line. I wanted something to tie the poem together, and this structure seemed to do the job.

Forgottenmachine, thank you for the kind words, my friend. I will keep looking for doors to open as long as there are people interested in seeing what's inside.

BeadinggalinMS, very glad you liked it! :)

Kelly, thanks!

jane said...

A beautiful post!

Erik Ivan James said...

Great job you two. But then, what else would be expected.

Anonymous said...

Sarah, thank you! I'm guessing it's a fairly obscure wreck. Perhaps this post will give the memory a bit more breadth.

Jane, :)

Erik, now that's pressure! :) I do appreciate it. Keeps me properly motivated.

Trista Bane said...

Oh, I definitely think you did this history justice! This poem gave me chills. Chills! Poetry typically doesn't not give me chills. I guess it's the history of it. you really brought it to life for me. Thanks, Jason.

Anonymous said...

Trista, welcome! Thank you for the high praise! Chills are the best. I hope very much to see you back.

Melissa Amateis said...

Wow. What a story, just begging to be told. And each one of those crew members has a story, too.

Beautiful poem (as always!).

Anonymous said...

Melissa, thank you much, my friend.

Anonymous said...

Twas my first visit to Vancouver this past Feb. for the Olympics! On my only day off Itook a stroll through Stanley Park. I came upon the cenotaph and had wondered about it.Thank you so much for the clarity of your poignant poem!! Bruce E. Trapp Rosetown Sask.