Sunset Fire

Whitehaven Sunsets 011 - Copy

The sky’s aflame down at the harbour side
As if the boats had all been set alight,
The setting sun is staining the turning tide.

No John Paul Jones attacks us in his pride,
It’s not a fire that shines so fiercely bright;
The sky’s aflame down at the harbour side.

Five stately swans across the water glide
Their feathers glowing rose instead of white,
The setting sun is staining the turning tide.

Such vibrant shades must in my heart abide
Their mem’ry give a lasting deep delight –
The sky’s aflame down at the harbour side.

Resting boats along the seawall ride
Their silhouettes dark shapes against the light
Of the setting sun staining the turning tide.

Thus are our evenings often glorified,
When calm descends and summons a peaceful night –
The sky’s on fire down at the harbour side,
And the setting sun is staining the turning tide.

Solway sunsets are renowned for their beauty, and this one was one of the best.
John Paul Jones originally a Whitehaven man took the side of the Americans in their war of independence, and attempted to burn the ships in the harbour; but the Cumbrian rain put out the fires, and his sailors gave up and got drunk in the taverns!I’m glad to say these days there’s peace between us and the US Navy, and they choose someone to be their special representative in West Cumbria.
The poem is an example of a villanelle – an Italian form, most famously used by Dylan Thomas for his poem –  ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.’

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