Gipsy Moth

The incandescent room lies bathed, opaque

From lapping light in walls an ocean shade.

The anchored corner bed, unmade, to make,

Is barking something salty and delayed.

The vacant sheets of patterned blue and white

Lie still as rumpled heaps of sailing cloth.

Sir Francis’ morning dreamship sails the night,

Then bids me come to make my Gipsy Moth.

For deep in sleeping’s catch I sail at ease,

With Morpheus as captain, guide, and probe.

And find my course unlatched through charted seas,

Alone and single-handed round the globe.

But then I choke the daydream in my head,

And act on orders loud to make my bed.

From Ninety-Seven Poems, but otherwise previously unpublished. This poem refers to Sir Francis Chichester and his yacht Gipsy Moth IV, on which he became the first person to circumnavigate the world solo, in 1967. At the age of about 10 or 11, around 1972 or 1973 (or it might have been late 1968, when I was 6—I’m not completely sure), I remember seeing the Gipsy Moth IV, where it was exhibited, afloat, next to the Cutty Sark in Greenwich, England. I recall that we got to go on deck or go inside the small boat, and it obviously made an impression on me and I later wrote this sonnet, I think in the late 1970s or the very early 1980s.