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Cargoes

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Poem Activity

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In this poem the speaker imagines different things that can be carried on a cargo ship - some of them exotic, some not. Don’t worry about what all the words mean as you read the poem out loud – enjoy their sounds and think about the impressions they create. How is the final verse different? Find out about things that are carried on container ships today across oceans - can you write an extra verse for this poem to paint a picture of these more modern cargoes for a reader?

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Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.

Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Emeralds, amethysts,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Road-rail, pig-lead,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.

Cargoes

by John Masefield