In the land of the Rotternauts dwelled a man
Whose hair was wondrous white;
Bewhiskered and bespectacled,
He glimmered pale at night.
And around the port he would pace with the gait
Of one who’d sailed the waves
And told his tale to anyone
He transfixed with his gaze.
Just so it happened when I peered at the shape
That rose in front of me,
He motioned me to silence
And began beguilingly:
‘There is, in a necklace of paradise isles
Beyond the eastern sea,
A jewelled piece of heaven
Where grows a magic tree.
And when the keel of the ship grinds the sands there
And rests from ocean gales
The trav’ller may find solace
And hear the songs of whales.
For the things of the sea fly in air out there
And birds swim in the deep –
Pluck flowers from the seabed
For the magic tree to keep.
And the pebbles of the land are wont to hatch
Into mammals, birds and fish –
The magic tree takes care of all
And fulfils every wish.’
And with that, the mariner vanished away!
Spell-bound, I saw them all:
Fish and birds and flowers…
And a magic tree, grown tall.
When I saw it on Facebook, I was captivated by the above Flower Bird artwork by the Dutch photographer and artist Koos (pronounced as in ‘rose’) Fernhout; it had a narrative quality and immediately conjured up for me a combination of mental images: Far Eastern art, mystical tales, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, The Flying Dutchman, the world as it was before humans minimised it, the fantastical stories of sailors returning from voyages of exploration, paradise, the next world. As you will see from the FB conversation, others were also smitten. Koos so much enjoyed the poem I felt compelled to write that he put it alongside his image, which is, believe me, quite an accolade. If you are unfamiliar with his work, you may enjoy a visit to his gallery, where you will find that he has an unerringly gifted photographic vision. To whet your appetite, I have also included an example below. Incidentally to all this, Koos happens to be a resident of the barge community I have described here. Many thanks to him for the pleasure of posting his pictures today.
11 thoughts on “The Rhyme of the Flying Dutch Man”
Great piece and poem, Christina!
Thanks, Jenny! Much appreciated. 🙂
Your lovely poem conjures up the most incredible images, Christina, and I can see why you were moved to write it after seeing the intriguing painting by Koos. So pleased to be introduced to his photographs. I love buildings! In another life I could have been an architect! And I always admire landscape photographers. Unfortunately I don’t have the patience. To be a consistently good landscape photographer, you need that.
Thanks, Lynn. It’s quite astonishing, that ability to take great photographs of buildings and industrial locations. I think what I most admire in his work, though, is the delicate management of light.
Your poem was quite an accolade too, Christina! I am constantly impressed by your ability to capture write really beautiful poetry. This one is particularly rich – Koos is not quite an ancient mariner, but the atmosphere you conjure up is similar. Beautiful!
What a lovely compliment! I enjoyed writing the poem; there was an implied challenge there as well, which put me on my mettle! 🙂 Did you take the Koos pic? It’s very good.
Hi Christina, we have had some wonderful times en route to Germany, spending a few hours in Holland, again on the way back. Thank you for this post, I have enjoyed the Fire Bird poem and finding out about its author, what fantastic photo’s. Will have to explore more fully.
I’m fascinated to learn that you also are familiar with the transit to Germany. As you now know from my visit to Oude Haven in Rotterdam, we’ve also enjoyed stopping off in the Netherlands. The photos are great, aren’t they? 🙂
Wow. Great story. Lovely poem.
I know the rolling dutchman well. Skates on the canal.
Hello, Jack! Thank you for your enthusiasm. I now have a new mental image to enjoy, of the ‘rolling dutchman’! As always, many thanks for adding to the fun of doing this blog. 🙂 Have a good w.e.
Hi Christina, no I didn’t take that one 🙂 I would have made him smile!