Enfim levantou ferro

Freely adapted from the unfinished poem by Camilo Pessanha (1867-1926)

Finally the anchor aweigh
canvas hauled, linen waved.
Far from my stoney damnation
in waves oceanic swept asunder.

For I, since departing
no destination know.
Oh course of life,
who charted woe?

On some rock still unseen
this bark violently will shatter.
Seaman, scrap disaster’s charts
Engineer, give me more steam.

My port of origin still in doubt,
why fate my sorrows only flout?
Or why in doldrums without end,
these pains my heart unstilled rend?

Dr T.P. Wilkinson writes, teaches History and English, directs theatre and coaches cricket between the cradles of Heine and Saramago. He is author of Unbecoming American: A War Memoir and also Church Clothes, Land, Mission and the End of Apartheid in South Africa. Read other articles by T.P..