The Ships of Saint John

This is a little part of our harbour. I took it the 1st of February which apparently was a day without wind. Calm waters with reflections.

The white building to the left in the picture is undergoing some kind of maintenance — it’s been covered with that white stuff since the end of last summer. Imagine the people living there … they can’t see anything out their windows — it’s an ordinary apartment building, I’ve been told. They could have tied a huge, red bow around it for Christmas! 🙂  The other, taller one is Hilton Hotel.

The water line, beneath the snow, also gives you an idea of the tide levels … and this is not at all low tide!

In the summer time the harbour is busy with enormous cruise ships but now it’s pretty cool and calm. The occasional container ship comes in to the west side [not in picture]. The cruise ship season usually starts in the beginning of June. Sometimes there are two, or three at the most, cruise ships in at the same time. Many of them carrying three thousand passengers. That’s a tremendous amount of people for this little city.

There’s a nice walking path all around … The Harbour Passage, it’s  called. Last summer it was partly shut off, due to works being done to the Harbour Bridge, but that’s all over now. Lots of people take advantage of it — it’s a really pleasant walk on a warm summer’s night — so different from this bright and crisp morning with -15°C/5°F.

My husband remembers another time … another era, when the harbour was a really busy place all the time, full of merchandise vessels. He used to work summers in the sugar refinery in the early 50’s, and at his lunch break sitting outside, watching the ships coming and going … all the gulls and porpoises hanging around them, looking for a hand-out from the cook who sometimes dumped extra food stuff overboard as they entered the harbour.

At the end of this post, I’ll put in the lovely poem by Bliss Carman … «The Ships of Saint John».

I’m not sure, but I think this is post No. 48 in this challenge. That leaves me with 317 posts to go. LOL ! Yesterday’s suggested topic was ‘What confuses you the most about life‘. I found that too confusing so I just let it be. I guess my answer would have been «people».

Where are the ships I used to know,
That came to port on the Fundy tide
Half a century ago,
In beauty and stately pride?
In they would come past the beacon light,
With the sun on gleaming sail and spar,
Folding their wings like birds in flight
From countries strange and far.
Schooner and brig and barkentine,
I watched them slow as the sails were furled,
And wondered what cities they must have seen
On the other side of the world.

Frenchman and Britisher and Dane,
Yankee, Spaniard and Portugee,
And many a home ship back again
With her stories of the sea.

Calm and victorious, at rest
From the relentless, rough sea-play,
The wild duck on the river’s breast
Was not more sure than they.

The creatures of a passing race,
The dark spruce forests made them strong,
The sea’s lore gave them magic grace,
The great winds taught them song.

And God endowed them each with life–
His blessing on the craftsman’s skill–
To meet the blind unreasoned strife
And dare the risk of ill.

Not mere insensate wood and paint
Obedient to the helm’s command,
But often restive as a saint
Beneath the Heavenly hand.

All the beauty and mystery
Of life were there, adventure bold,
Youth, and the glamour of the sea
And all its sorrows old.

And many a time I saw them go
Out on the flood at morning brave,
As the little tugs had them in tow,
And the sunlight danced on the wave.

There all day long you could hear the sound
Of the caulking iron, the ship’s bronze bell,
And the clank of the capstan going round
As the great tides rose and fell.

The sailors’ songs, the Captain’s shout,
The boatswain’s whistle piping shrill,
And the roar as the anchor chain runs out,–
I often hear them still.

I can see them still, the sun on their gear,
The shining streak as the hulls careen,
And the flag at the peak unfurling,–clear
As a picture on a screen.

The fog still hangs on the long tide-rips,
The gulls go wavering to and fro,
But where are all the beautiful ships
I knew so long ago?


8 thoughts on “The Ships of Saint John”

  1. This is a great post. I wonder why the apartment building has that whiteness around it. I can't imagine how dreary those poor people inside must feel.

  2. Wonderful photo — beautiful reflections, lovely moody light! And what a great poem, I didn't know this one, but it's a keeper!

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