Translations of this Poem
The stars are the map I unroll
Translator: Gary Quinn
The stars are the map I unroll; they steady the helm
Oceans beckon me – circumnavigation is an ancient aim
The Quest is ready, the epic underway to a silent tumult of waving
Odysseus, Magellan, Drake, Chichester… the single-minded…the tenacious. I too raise my arm in farewell
The boat lifts as the sails fill. I am let loose to the winds’ narration
Arms, shrinking into the distance, shout Haste ye back! God speed!
Dry your eyes, my loved ones: my family, my friends!
I am merely a dot on the horizon.
Waves above, waves below, heaving and heartless.
Tipping and dipping, toppling from wave crests, shuddering through troughs
A watery topography, alien, treacherous
It has taken its toll
The Quest is all discomfort and distress; but gentled back to seaworthiness
Up, up go the sails again. I do not hear the rattles, the stresses and strains
She lurches crazily, almost capsizes. Reefing, battening down, holding my nerve
At last a port where I can check her over: hull, rigging, steering
Just one last cape to conquer, one final ocean to prevail against
She is bursting with new life; full of anticipation, eager with sea stories
They are waiting for me, their lone sailor; eight months, 32,000 miles
They are waving, applauding like a field of wheat/ flock of birds. She is a white swan on a grey morning
The miles, the months dissolve in damp eyes
I step ashore. My family steadies me; my friends anchor our pride
Alone, I have circumnavigated this turbulent globe. I pinned my hopes to the heavens, to the silent stars.
Da starns is da map I unrowl
Translator: Christine De Luca
Da starns is da map I unrowl,
dey steady da helm.
Der aye bön fock wantin ta sail richt
Waves abön, waves below.
Da ocean is tizin me.
Odysseus, Chichester …
A’m raisin mi airm an aa.
Shö lifts as da sails fill.
A’m lowsed tae da winds’ tales.
Dunna greet, my dearies;
mi ain fock, mi freends!
A’m jöst a mintie dot apö da horizon.
Tippin and dippin, dirlin
owre wave taps, shudderin
A watery laand, uncan, faersome.
Hit’s taen hits toll.
Da Quest is aa benwark an distress,
aa scars an scrapes.
I gentle her
back to her fine swack wyes.
Feelin da rattles,
da stresses an strains. Reefin,
battenin doon, keepin
a calm sough. Shö waavers lik
aa but capsizes.
I unreef da sail
unfurl her smeddum.
Jöst wan hidmost cape ta conquer
wan yark, a hidmost
o her stays.
Shö’s laek ta spret
wi new life, aaber,
foo o sea stories.
Der waitin for me,
der lone sailor.
Shö’s a whicht swan apön a grey
Der a mird o birds, a flaachter.
Da miles, da monts
mizzle awa in damp een.
A’m mi lane, A’m met hit roond
dis unsettlt globe.
I preened my hoops tae da heevens
tae da silent starns.
About this poem
An excerpt from a BSL poem by Gary Quinn, celebrating the first deaf round-the-world solo yachtsman, Gerry Hughes. The BSL piece is accompanied by versions in English and Shetlandic, specially created in response by poet Christine De Luca. Made with the Scottish Poetry Library’s artist in residence, Kyra Pollitt, with funding from Creative Scotland, and with thanks to Gerry Hughes and Interface 3. — Ask Kyra for further information