This poem was originally written by me back in 1979, and I have only just rediscovered it. It comes from a time when I was just beginning to note down thoughts, ideas, and impressions about the tumultuous, gilded history of the great ocean liners.
One of the obvious stand out stories from that age was the destruction of the fabled Cunarder, the Lusitania.
The story created shock waves at the time- it heralded what many called the true beginning of ‘total war’.
Even now, almost exactly a century later, the ripples from this incredibly controversial story have never truly subsided. The great ship sleeps fitfully, shrouded in half truths, myth, and uneasy silence.
Hence, this poem. Reproduced exactly as it was written way back then, in an attempt to convey some of my own personal impressions of the sinking, itself one of the great turning points of what was, up till that stage, the bloodiest global conflagration in the history of mankind. And, also, intended as a tribute to a ship that was, perhaps, the ultimate Trojan Horse- Lusitania.
THE LUSITANIA SUITE
There was drizzle in New York on the day you sailed
But the streamers rained down and the sirens wailed
For Lusy- you’re oh, so used to it now
Lusy baby- you’re gonna miss it all, and how
With your speed they once called you ‘Queen of the Sea’
But you’re not the same lady that you used to be
Are you, Lusy? The years have brought you fame
Times have changed now; you’re playing a risky game
A flower caught up in a thorny war
Or an ocean queen humbled to the stature of a whore?
Which one is it- though it’s hard to endure
Contraband the answer; keep it under for sure
Newspapers warned about happenings drastic
But now the golden people trip the light fantastic
Aboard the Lusy; they live it high and fine
What a slummer; reality’s about to call time
There’s a U-boat lurking in the eastbound lane
Captain is cool and he knows his game
Sights on Lusy- sailing high and fine
One torpedo; smack below the waterline
Too late; too late
The die is cast
Lunch ends quickly
Damn that blast
Rising panic and rising water
Capsized lifeboats add to the slaughter
Billy, try and beach her
The land’s so near
Dear God SOS
Why don’t they hear?
Too late, it’s over
It’s over too soon
The other big one
At least went down with a tune
The sad, sad total; twelve hundred dead
The great ship down off Kinsale’s Old Head
Goodbye Lusy; maybe that’s not the whole story
Don’t dig too deep; it doesn’t smack much of glory.