Friday, July 26, 2013

When the Ships Come In

They're here. There's big buzz over the tall ships that arrived yesterday to the delight of thousands. According to the Trib there were people finding their gawking spots as early as 8:00 a.m. for the orchestrated 2:00 p.m. parade into Duluth Harbor. It must have been a sight, but if you missed it here's a photo gallery.

Ships have figured prominently in the history of the world, both in exploration and transportation. Unless our roots are native, most of us arrived in America by means of ships, some in better circumstances than others (sadly).

I can't say that I fully understand the fascination with these ships. Part of it has to be nostalgic, something on the order of Civil War re-enactments. The word nostalgia conveys a certain kind of homesickness. It's a romantic wistfulness for a bygone past that can never be again. But when you think about all those trips across the Atlantic in which food was insufficient, where disease took it toll on the passengers and many were dropped into the sea, well, I can't say it's a past I'm homesick for.

It's surmised that the first sailing vessels were crafted around 10,000 B.C.  The Egyptians got into the ship-building mode around 3,000 B.C. and a quick review of the Wikipedia site on ships outlines the various places ships appear to have been used throughout history.

The game changer in sailing history was the development of advanced navigational tools during the Renaissance era. Even before that, however, people like Leif Erikson and his Vikings knew how to get around. In fact, today's Tall Ships aren't the first to make a splash in our waters. 86 summers ago the Leif Erikson replica boat was photographed entering our canal to glide beneath the Aerial Lift Bridge.

Since we're celebrating the grandeur of ships today, there's a very early Dylan song that can be used to mark the occasion. This song originally appeared on his third album, The Times They Are A-Changin'.

When the Ship Comes In

Oh the time will come up
When the winds will stop
And the breeze will cease to be breathin’
Like the stillness in the wind
’Fore the hurricane begins
The hour when the ship comes in

Oh the seas will split
And the ship will hit
And the sands on the shoreline will be shaking
Then the tide will sound
And the wind will pound
And the morning will be breaking

Oh the fishes will laugh
As they swim out of the path
And the seagulls they’ll be smiling
And the rocks on the sand
Will proudly stand
The hour that the ship comes in

And the words that are used
For to get the ship confused
Will not be understood as they’re spoken
For the chains of the sea
Will have busted in the night
And will be buried at the bottom of the ocean

A song will lift
As the mainsail shifts
And the boat drifts on to the shoreline
And the sun will respect
Every face on the deck
The hour that the ship comes in

Then the sands will roll
Out a carpet of gold
For your weary toes to be a-touchin’
And the ship’s wise men
Will remind you once again
That the whole wide world is watchin’

Oh the foes will rise
With the sleep still in their eyes
And they’ll jerk from their beds and think they’re dreamin’
But they’ll pinch themselves and squeal
And know that it’s for real
The hour when the ship comes in

Then they’ll raise their hands
Sayin’ we’ll meet all your demands
But we’ll shout from the bow your days are numbered
And like Pharoah’s tribe
They’ll be drownded in the tide
And like Goliath, they’ll be conquered

Copyright © 1963, 1964 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991, 1992 by Special Rider Music

Are you still waiting for your ship to come in? Have a great weekend and enjoy the views.

No comments: