Emmanuel George Cefai

Gold Star - 8,161 Points (12th March 1955 / Victoria, Gozo)

A Barge Mysterious In The Thick Of Night - Poem by Emmanuel George Cefai

A barge mysterious in the thick of night
Sailed slowly to the somber shore
Beneath the ramparts of the dreaming fort
How silent how austere how still
The lapping of the waves against the barge.

Whence is the barge coming in the night?
Whence did its journey start?
By night or day?

No reply came – and none in that still barge
Appeared to reply or move or breathe:
So horrid thin the stillness in the barge
The barge mysterious in the thick of night.

Anon near the shore it stopped awhile
And there without a pilot stood, without a hope
Of towing to the shore though near stood:
Slow imperceptible moved it with the waves
That danced in the dim lights of the old fort
That drowsed and drowsed ignored
The lapping of the waves against the barge.

And then of sudden lo! It moved as if
Sprung by some unwound spring or else
Like a thing startled at its guilt
At seeing the hiding draperies of the night
Slip slowly down before the toll of dawn
The barge mysterious in the thick of night
Sailed all invisible to another land
Where night still holds its scepter sway
And eerie bats their piercing cries emit.

Ay, ay that slow mysterious barge
Is into the long night so far away
Gone, gone from the eyes gone from the dawn
From good and virtue called it moved and went
To where the evil witches danced the night
In hidden lands by human eyes unseen.

And good and virtue and evil and all – are relative.


Comments about A Barge Mysterious In The Thick Of Night by Emmanuel George Cefai

  • Gold Star - 36,016 Points Fabrizio Frosini (9/1/2015 11:45:00 AM)

    thank you again..

    P.S.: I'm going to translate the lines in between.. I'll send you the full text in Italian (Report) Reply

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  • Gold Star - 36,016 Points Fabrizio Frosini (9/1/2015 11:31:00 AM)

    BTW,
    you can find the eBook ''WHISPERS TO THE WORLD - SUSSURRI AL MONDO'' at Amazon - a promotion is starting today - Sept.1:
    it will be FREE for download for 5 days (September 1-5) (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 36,016 Points Fabrizio Frosini (9/1/2015 11:27:00 AM)

    QUESTA E' (parte della) MIA
    TRADUZIONE IN ITALIANO (spero sia accettabile) :

    [......] Emmanuel George Cefai, “Una Chiatta Misteriosa Nel Cuore Della Notte” (2011) [......] Il poema si apre con l'inspiegabile, ed in definitiva inconoscibile, arrivo della chiatta misteriosa in un porto del mondo civile:

    Una chiatta misteriosa nel cuore della notte
    Veleggiò lentamente verso la mesta riva
    Sotto i bastioni della fortezza sognante.
    Quanto silenzioso quanto austero quanto calmo
    Lo sciabordio delle onde sulla chiatta.
    Da dove viene la chiatta che arriva nella notte?
    Dove ebbe inizio il suo viaggio?
    Nessuna risposta venne - e nessuno su quella ferma chiatta
    Apparve per rispondere o si mosse o respirò:
    Così orrida, affilata, la quiete nella chiatta
    La chiatta misteriosa nel cuore della notte.
    [..]

    Nonostante le sue dimensioni e la progressione maestosa attraverso le acque, la chiatta si allontana improvvisamente come fosse spinta dalla propria volontà. Nella strofa finale la voce parlante è privilegiata da una segreta conoscenza che sembra essere un fardello di cui liberarsi, condividendolo finalmente con il pubblico:

    [..]
    Sì, sì quella lenta misteriosa chiatta
    Si è nella lunga notte allontanata
    Andata, via dagli occhi via dall’alba
    Dal bene e dalla virtù chiamata si mosse e andò
    Là dove le streghe maligne danzarono di notte
    In terre arcane, non viste da occhi umani.

    La parola che meglio descrive l'impatto di questa poesia è ‘Solennità’. Tutto il linguaggio è reso oggettivo e alto; [.....] (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 36,016 Points Fabrizio Frosini (9/1/2015 11:20:00 AM)

    I have to thank you and also Daniel Brick for ''A Barge Mysterious''.. as you wrote the poem and Daniel wrote a bright critique on it.. and used it when writing the Into to ''WHISPERS TO THE WORLD- SUSSURRI AL MONDO'' (Amazon - Bilingual Edition, English Italian) ..

    '' There is a contemporary poet who lives on the island of Malta, Emmanuel George Cefai, [.........]. In his poem, A BARGE MYSTERIOUS IN THE THICK OF NIGHT (2011) , he creates a world in microcosm on this barge which reminds me of the medieval legend of the Ship of Fools or the various versions of the Flying Dutchman. The poem opens with the unexplained, ultimately unknowable arrival of the MYSTERIOUS BARGE in a port in the civilized world:
    ___ '' A barge mysterious in the thick of night
    ___ [..]
    ___ The barge mysterious in the thick of night.''
    Despite its size and stately progress through the waters, the barge suddenly departs LIKE A THING STARTED AT ITS GUILT. In the final stanza the speaker's voice is privileged by secret knowledge [............] :
    ___ '' Ay, ay that slow mysterious barge
    ___ [..]
    ___ In hidden lands by human eyes unseen. ''
    The word that best describes the impact of this poem is GRAVITAS. The language throughout is objective and heightened; it does not express sympathy or even sentiment. The stillness I feel around me as I read it is almost frightful, because I am only human and the poem's perspective is Olympian. [................] '' (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Ally Louise (8/8/2015 4:36:00 PM)

    Mr. Cefai, it took me a couple of reads before i was able to fully internalize this poem. I read a proverb in the past that states "you should write your bad memories in the sand so that it can be easily washed away from your memory" most people however engrave it in a marble therefore guilt and painful memories are immortalized in their mind. Same goes with the barge in this poem, it is trapped in the thick of night with all the frustrations and mistakes from the past weighing it down. In order to fully live the present, one must learn what it can from the past and let go... - Ally Louise (Report) Reply

  • Silver Star - 3,611 Points Roop Rekha Bhaskar (6/25/2015 1:42:00 AM)

    I felt like i was reading a book. Or was i watching a movie? or looking at a painting! Is it the Angels come down to protect the seafarers? or the ghosts of the ones lost at sea? or is it the Pirates of the caribbean? Dreamy, lovely and mysterious poem. loved it. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 358 Points Simpa Omoluabi (5/20/2015 3:40:00 AM)

    rhythm rolls like a sea undisturbed in the thick of the night under the monocle of the moon (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 14,103 Points Daniel Brick (9/27/2014 7:19:00 AM)

    PoemHunter put a list of your selected poems next to this new one. I clicked on the first of them A BARGE MYSTERIOUS IN THE THICK OF NIGHT. To my mind, it is a Symbolist Poem, which means it is open to multiple interpretations, two of mine are summarized in my comment from Feb.28,2014, printed below the poem. As I re-read it just now, I renewed my admiration for this contribution to the Poem of the Voyage. My contribution is a poem called PAGE ONE, which takes place within the psyche of the speaker. But approached psychologically, all Poems of the Voyage occur within the Psyche. It's the Night Sea Journey as Jung put it. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 14,103 Points Daniel Brick (7/22/2014 9:12:00 AM)

    I just finished reading and commenting on all of your poems with the red NEW label. And I am feeling that familiar mix of delight and wisdom from the experience. As I finished the last new one, my eye caught A BARGE MYSTERIOUS which was the first of your poems I read and wrote about. That communication is dated Feb.25,2014 - just shy of five months ago - that means I have read and written responses to your poems for almost half a year! ! I see I am listed as one of your friends for which I thank you. I certainly consider you a friend and colleague. (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 14,103 Points Daniel Brick (2/28/2014 8:34:00 AM)

    Dear Emmanuel, I have tried twice this morning to send you my enthusiastic comment on this poem, but both times the verification codes failed to process it. I am (unfortunately) going to reduce my commentary and try again. The word that best describes the impact of A BARGE MYSTERIOUS on me is - gravitas. The language throughout is objective and heightened; it does not express sympathy or even sentiment. The stillness I feel around me when reading it is almost frightful, because I am all too human and the poem's perspective is Olympian. I'm reminded of other cursed wanderers like the Flying Dutchman who can find neither rest nor sanctuary because of some offense that has not been forgiven. If that is the case here, the life of those in the barge is a purgatorial existence until someone or something lifts the curse. However, I have another reaction to the poem. It is not about an individual's guilt or even collective guilt, like the concept of Original Sin. The barge represents the destiny of humanity, squeezed between fate and chance, with little space available to exercise our limited freedom. This is my darkest interpretation of your poem because there would be NO EXIT from such a destiny. At least, purgatory has a end eventually. It is the sheer power of your imagery that makes me consider such an extreme point of view. I only hope there is a character like the hero Heracles or the loving woman Senta (Wagner's Flying Dutchman) who can release those trapped in A BARGE MYSTERIOUS IN THE THICK OF NIGHT. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Monday, October 3, 2011

Poem Edited: Saturday, March 8, 2014


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