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Shanties

So these were chanted on slave-ships.
Why did I not guess before?
Because I hide from just mens rage,
can whistle softly, flick the page,
Shenandoah, O Shenandoah.

We count our own.  Though tears fall hot,
we do not go back for more.
Out of the dust, let small ghosts come
as quiet as spent uranium,
Shenandoah, good Shenandoah.

I love your daughter, sang the men,
hands on rope, some rough, some raw.
The colours arched above the rain,
they never sang so true again.
Shenandoah, O Shenandoah.

Alison Brackenbury


If you have any comments on this poem, Alison Brackenbury would be pleased to hear from you.

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