Pamir by Adrian Rogers

Pamir

by Adrian Rogers

2022. Ginninderra Press, Port Adelaide, Australia

p. 61 ISBN: 978-1-76109-276-3

www.ginninderrapress.com.au

Reviewed by Robert Maddox-Harle, Australia

This slim volume of poems will gladden and caress your heart. In a world full of negativity, deliberately manipulated by the mainstream media, this book is like a refreshing breath of clean, salt sea air. Even though it is a bittersweet story, it is one that seems natural and part of human endeavour.

Robert Maddox-Harle

I have to declare a slight bias in writing this review; firstly, I love Adrian’s poetry, secondly, I also love anything to do with the sea, sailing, and the exquisite vessels that opened up unknown frontiers over the centuries.

Rather than rewrite the description of this poetic story I will quote it in full from the back cover to give the prospective reader a clear idea of what to expect:
Pamir is the story of a ship, from her building in 1905 to her loss at sea in 1957. She was one of the last of her kind, a celebration of the age of sail, of a seaman’s craft developed over thousands of years, only eventually to steam. Adrian Rogers has told her story as a tribute to all those who kept the world’s trade going through the centuries, at great risk to themselves, and often with very little reward. Their memory deserves to be honoured.”

Adrian Rogers

And indeed it is honoured by this collection of poems which have the dual quality of being wonderful poems each in their own right, and also coming together as a story to immortalise Pamir. The book is arranged into five parts, followed by an Epilogue.

Part 1 – Looking back
Part 2 - In the Morning of My Days
Part 3 – A Prize of War, A Middle-aged Challenger
Part 4 – The Last Great Race, Port Victoria, 1949
Part 5 – Old Age and Apotheosis

As I have mentioned in my previous reviews of Adrian’s poetry, he is a master poet. His poems do not articulate engineer’s logic, they are not like assembled tabloid headlines, he invents new words and modifies existing ones to suit his purpose, they epitomise the true nature of poetry – to create magic through words. As Octavio Paz says’ “No one is a poet unless he [sic] has felt the temptation to destroy language or create another one, unless he [sic] has experienced the fascination of non-meaning and the no less terrifying fascination of meaning that is inexpressible”.

From Launching Pamir (p.16) verse 2:

A bottle swung champagne flood

blossoms along her hull

shipwright’s mauls lifting

and dropping

are a sea-sung, rhythmically

driving pulse edging her over

into wind and water

for the outfitting of a mystery,

masts stepped strong and deep

awakening her

to the beyond of all distances.

Rogers’ has a unique poetic style, it is characterised by a gentle natural cadence,  excellent invocation of images, powerful metaphors and phrases which bring palpable ‘life’ to the poem, an example ”a mild North Sea breathing”. Most of all he has the ability to, in a sense, invert the words in a line to give it special and unusual poetic meaning, again as an example;  “A bottle swung champagne flood/blossoms along her hull”, we all know what this means concerning the launching of a ship but his way of phrasing it, transforms it from mundane reportage to special poetic enchantment.

Part 4, The Last Great Race, Port Victoria, 1949. The poem Out With the Tide is nothing short of amazing (p. 35).

No gale

sweeps Wardang Island’s half concealed

fang-like razor teeth

and with danger clearing

the shoreline to port diminishes sunwards

a wide gulf to starboard opening out.

 

Light wave-top dances set to flout

forecast and rumour,

crews hoist sail wings

catching the wind

two ships press forwards ‘bone-in-teeth’

wakes widen creaming to perfection

gulls chorusing

sweeping swooping arcing

round mastheads windward straining

to the challenge.

 

This poem places us onboard Pamir and helps us experience the thrill and action of the start of the race between Passat and Pamir, anyone who reads this poem sincerely and does not experience the essence of ship and ocean is half-dead and should not be reading poetry.

One minor criticism of this book, the layout in quite a few poems occupies half a page, the bottom section left blank, then continues on the following page, this has the effect of breaking up the continuity of the poem, this is I presume is the publisher’s fault.

The last poem in Part 5, Mid Atlantic Apotheosis – a long and beautiful poem, in a sense, finishes the story, more so than the following Epilogue. The last three verses of this poem are deeply moving and assure Pamir’s place both in maritime history and fine literature.

“They will remember in aftertime my kind,

let no breaker dismember my secrets,

 

none find or possess

what passes me under sun and cloud

so, raise your glasses

on my launching day

let time have her say then the sea be my shroud!’

 

‘We remember you, and your lads

unshadowed by age or fireside regrets,

perhaps, after all you did bring them home.’


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