The Flying Dutchman…

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Suddenly, Algy noticed that the din of human voices which he had heard from the other side of the bay had ceased; all was silent, except the creaking of the boats as they swayed against the strange floating structure he was perching upon. Puzzled, Algy flew a wee bit closer. The tall ship appeared to be deserted now, which seemed odd; he hadn’t noticed the humans moving away, and he had seen them bustling about all over it just a short time ago. The clouds were moving swiftly across the sky, creating ever changing patterns of shadow and light, and for a moment the sun illuminated the name which was painted on the side of the boat. Algy gasped and shuddered, then quickly turned away, and pretended to be gazing at something fascinating across the bay, in the opposite direction. The opening lines of a long poem came into his mind… “Long time ago, from Amsterdam a vessel sailed away…” he thought, and then remembered the end of the famous tale:

Once more the lurid light gleamed out, – the ship was still at rest,
The crew were standing at their posts; with arms across his breast
Still stood the captain on the poop, but bent and crouching now
He bowed beneath that flat dread, and o’er his swarthy brow
Swept lines of anguish, as if he a thousand years of pain
Had lived and suffered. Then across the heaving, sullen main
The tempest shrieked triumphant, and the angry waters hissed
Their vengeful hate against the toy they oftentimes had kissed.
And ever through the midnight storm that hapless crew must speed;
They try to round the Stormy Cape, but never can succeed.
And oft when gales are wildest, and the lightning’s vivid sheen
Flashes back the ocean’s anger, still the Phantom Ship is seen
Ever heading to the southward in the fierce tornado’s swoop,
With her ghostly crew and canvas, and her captain on the poop,
Unrelenting, unforgiven; and ’t is said that every word
Of his blasphemous defiance still upon the gale is heard!
But heaven help the luckless ones to whom the sight appears, –
The doom of those is sealed near whom the ghastly sailor steers;
They’ll never reach their destined port,—they’ll see their homes no more, –
They who see the Flying Dutchman – never, never reach the shore!

Algy wishes you all a very happy time this weekend, and hopes that you will not encounter any doomed ghosts… 😀

[Algy is quoting the first line and the final stanza of the poem The Flying Dutchman by the 19th century Irish poet and journalist, John Boyle O’Reilly.]

Distracted…

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While Algy was waiting patiently on the slipway, watching the transport contraption approach slowly but steadily across the sea, he heard the sound of excited human voices carrying across the water from the other side of the bay. Looking round, he noticed an unusual vessel, apparently motionless beside the strange structures which he had seen in that area of the harbour some time before. Forgetting all about the ferry boat for the moment, he decided to fly over to investigate. As he approached, Algy could see that there were several humans clustered round the vessel, and more of them actually upon it, so he thought it might be prudent to observe from a safe distance, just in case fluffy birds were not welcome. Landing on the end of one of the odd platforms which projected out into the bay, he perched on the flat, colourful surface. Although the wind bit him viciously as it whistled through his feathers, the surface itself felt comfortingly warm in the spring sunshine, but he was surprised to find that it seemed to bob up and down with the motion of the sea, which was a wee bit disconcerting, although not too seriously alarming as the weather was more or less calm, and the water seemed to stay firmly in its place…

Becalmed

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Algy was surprised to find a lone, flowering gorse bush growing out of the hard ground beside the strange man-made structures which stretched out across the still water, but it provided a comfortingly familiar perch in strange surroundings, so he settled upon it happily, ignoring the usual prickles to his tail feathers. The wind had dropped entirely for a moment and the harbour was completely still; the surface of the sea glimmered like a mirror, reflecting not only the brightly-painted buildings and the boats, but even the clouds, so that they floated serenely across the water as well as the sky. Such a calm was unusual on the wild west coast of Scotland, and Algy gazed in wonder at the translucent water and the clear reflections, thinking of a poem in his collected works of Longfellow, and wondering when the wind would start to blow again:

Becalmed upon the sea of Thought,
Still unattained the land it sought,
My mind, with loosely-hanging sails,
Lies waiting the auspicious gales.

On either side, behind, before,
The ocean stretches like a floor,–
A level floor of amethyst,
Crowned by a golden dome of mist.

Blow, breath of inspiration, blow!
Shake and uplift this golden glow!
And fill the canvas of the mind
With wafts of thy celestial wind.

Blow, breath of song! until I feel
The straining sail, the lifting keel,
The life of the awakening sea,
Its motion and its mystery!

[Algy is quoting the poem Becalmed by the 19th century American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.]

Like a Mirror…

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As he continued to explore the harbour around the fishermen’s pier, Algy suddenly noticed a patch of what looked like spring flowers on the far side of the bay, where many smaller boats were floating in deeper water beside a strange, man-made structure. Flying across to investigate, Algy discovered something very odd. One of the boats, which had been washed up high onto the shore, was full of small daffodils. They were even crowding up through a wee hole at the end. Algy perched beside the flowers for a while, puzzling over this strange phenomenon. Was it possible that soil got thrown into stranded boats during the winter storms, and daffodils seeded themselves there? It hardly seemed likely…

But it was such a beautiful day that Algy decided not to worry his fluffy head too much about things he could not understand… The sun was shining, the sea was exceptionally calm, and the bay looked just like a deep blue mirror. So he leaned back among the flowers and gazed contentedly at the pretty scene, relaxing in the welcome spring sunshine…

Algy wishes you all a very happy Sunday, and hopes that you all have a chance to relax in beautiful surroundings today 😀

A Picture Postcard

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And so, finally, the ferry boat ground to a halt, and after some protracted rumbling and shaking, the din of the many noises it made subsided too. Looking down towards the lower deck, Algy saw that the crew member who had beckoned to him on the other side of the water was waving at him again, apparently now wishing him to disembark. Algy fluttered unsteadily off the boat, and landed as soon as possible on the concrete slipway, feeling decidedly wobbly.

Looking around, he discovered that he had arrived at one side of a very pretty circular bay. He could see at once that there was much to discover and explore, but he felt rather peculiar, and decided that perhaps he should take a wee bit of time to steady himself first, as the ground seemed to be going up and down beneath him in a most unusual way. Getting to his feet, Algy tested his wings carefully, to make sure that he could fly in a reasonably straight line, then lifted himself slowly into the air and rose a short distance up the hillside which climbed very steeply above the water. Flying vertically upwards seemed to be much more of an effort than usual, so he stopped at the earliest opporunity, alighting on a low, ivy-covered wall which seemed to provide both a comfortable perch and a fine view of the bay. Settling himself down to rest, Algy gazed out at the scene in front of him. Apparently he had arrived in a picture postcard…