​An Gobadán: the Long Way

When we were sailing in Galicia, Spain we met up with Jasmine another Irish sailing vessel. One of the crew was intrigued by our journey and wrote this incredible poem for An Gobadán

We cannot control the sea,

but we can learn to surf the waves:

even as dead mariners

turn in their graves.

An expanse of ocean,

blue infinity;

nothing is as deep or strong

as the pull of the sea.

Where blue capped hills of foaming grey

touch the leaden endless sky;

where birds in spare solitude,

sighted, fly by.

Set the course a-southing,

wherever you must go:

a distant shore, another land,

new shore-tides’ ebb and flow.

For a sure and simple crossing,

wind it must set fair,

to take us from this starting point,

to somewhere over there.

To sail the formless water,

long-roll of the sea,

another waiting ocean;

be alive and free.

To face the seas’ pernicious forms,

in the dark of night:

roar of the water, the wind

or a silent moving light.

A test for land-worn senses,

which were seldom meant to be

alone under a bowl of stars –

captive to an endless sea.

After ship-bound days and nights,

tiller, rope in hand,

a present, moving shadow:

promise of the land.

Draws up, takes shape, calls out

a sirens’ cry of hope.

Journeys end, passage done,

arrive intact, afloat.

As silent long-dead mariners

turn in their graves,

we have not controlled the sea,

but have learned to surf the waves.

Philip Mackeown

2 Replies to “​An Gobadán: the Long Way”

  1. Hi Ciara, Eriol,
    I hope all is well. Great you have posted this & I hope it helps as you battle the surf.
    I very much enjoyed writing it.

    Take care and safe passage.
    Keep going!.


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