Jefferson Hamer - The Shantymen's Tune

from by GennaRose Nethercott

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Shantymen’s Tune

Come all you shanty boys
take up the hatchet blade
& as you lay the woodlands low
sing out this serenade.

The sycamore, once bold with might
will tumble low at your feet
until the bell peals dinnertime
& lumb’ring’s complete.

Hemlocks never die with ease
but stumble out of life
like drunkards dragging off their boots
to bed beside their wives.

There is a changing moment
when the spirit is set free,
when a man becomes a body,
when wood replaces tree.

O shanty boys, your axes high,
you know this instant well
for you alone have felled the trunks
& watched the sap dispel.

Yes you alone have seen the way
leviathans may fall
& rot upon the forest floor
as one day will we all.


from Modern Ballads, released January 29, 2018


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GennaRose Nethercott Somerville, Massachusetts

GennaRose Nethercott is the author of THE LUMBERJACK'S DOVE (Ecco/HarperCollins, forthcoming 2018), selected by Louise Glück as a winner of the National Poetry Series. Her other recent projects include A GHOST OF WATER (an ekphrastic collaboration with printmaker Susan Osgood) and the narrative song collection MODERN BALLADS. ... more

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