The Tuesday Poem

Today I’m feeling melancholy and wanted to turn that into righteous anger about the oil spill with a poem for the Tuesday Poem blog – but of course couldn’t find a modern angry poem that was both apposite and out of copyright. I can think of several I’d like to use in a future bout of wrath (Adrian Mitchell’s for one) if I can get permission for them.

Meantime, this Charles Causley poem touches the edge of anger and futility – in this case directed at war.

LOSS OF AN OIL TANKER by Charles Causley

Over our heads the missiles ran

Through skies more desolate than the sea.

In jungles, where man hides from man,

Leaves fell, in springtime, from the tree.

A cracked ship on the Seven Stones lies

Dying in resurrection weather.

With squalid hands we hold our prize:

A drowned fish and a sea-bird’s feather.

With thanks, once more, to David Higham Associates for permission to use a poem by Charles Causley.

7 Responses to “The Tuesday Poem”

  1. Helen Lowe Says:


    Sometimes there are no words, are there?

    In this case, I think the picture might be the poem …

  2. aj ponder Says:

    This poem you have chosen is just stunning.
    I’ve read it over and over just trying to hold the nuances, every scene so bright with anger, and the ending so appropriately bleak

  3. harvey mcqueen Says:


    I share your frustration about nyo finding a vehicle to express my anger and dismay over the oil spill. But I’m reminded of Keats ‘ if poetry come not as leaves to a tree’. Anyway thanks for the Causley, here and earlier. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog.


  4. Frances Thomas Says:

    A beautiful poem – thanks Belinda. How does he make that last line so sad?
    I was also reminded of Philip Larkin’s poem ‘Going Going’ in ‘High Windows’ – and the last verse;
    Most things are never meant
    This won’t be, most likely, but greeds
    And garbage are too thick-strewn…

  5. admin Says:

    I hadn’t thought of that Keats line, Harvey, until you mentioned it: “If poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree, it had better not come at all”. I guess it worked for him, although I can’t help feeling that it’s not the only route. What I did remember was the edge of a lost memory of a poem with the ironic refrain “don’t worry [about some terrible crisis], I’m writing a poem about it”.

    I do believe that poetry, because it depends so acutely on precise choices of word and phrase and imagery, can offer a powerful punch in response to almost any human endeavour. Or disaster.

    Thank you all for your generous and thoughtful responses. I love these conversations.


  6. Tim Jones Says:

    I love this poem – especially “dying in resurrection weather”.

    As for the oil spill, the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars (or in BP, wretchedly arrogant and incompetent though they are), but in ourselves.

  7. admin Says:

    I’m glad you like this poem, Tim. And you’re right of course about our collective guilt – but can any of us believe we’ll collectively take enough of the necessary medicine to fix the future? I tell you, the Deep Water Horizon spill (spill? that makes it sound like a jug of milk) scares the hell out of me.

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