First World War Poetry Digital Archive

The Alice Jean

THE ALICE JEAN by ROBERT GRAVES

One moonlit night a ship drove in, A ghost ship from the west, Drifting with bare mast and lone tiller, Like a mermaid drest In long green weed and barnacles: She beached and came to rest.

All the watchers of the coast Flocked to view the sight, Men and women streaming down Through the summer night, Found her standing tall and ragged Beached in the moonlight.

Then one old woman looked and wept: 'The Alice Jean? But no! The ship that took my Dick from me Sixty years ago Drifted back from the utmost west With the ocean's flow?

'Caught and caged in the weedy pool Beyond the western brink, Where crewless vessels lie and rot In waters black as ink, Torn out again by a sudden storm--- Is it the Jean, you think?'

A hundred women stared agape, The menfolk nudged and laughed, But none could find a likelier story For the strange craft With fear and death and desolation Rigged fore and aft.

The blind ship came forgotten home To all but one of these Of whom none dared to climb aboard her: And by and by the breeze Sprang to a storm and the Alice Jean Foundered in frothy seas.

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