He has granted us permission to publicise it (royalty free) anywhere we can, to raise awareness (and hopefully funds) for the 'Save the Plymouth Campaign'
The poem can already be viewed in a number of different places:-
On his website at Sullivan the Poet under 'New Works'
On the iHerald website
Also on the Telegraph website
'Ode to HMS Plymouth..' (A Warrior maid)
Sunday, February 1, 2009, 08:34 PM GMT
Half cent'ry gone in Devonport, they forged and laid her keel,
a spine befit a warrior maid in hissing, flame spat steel;
All ribbed about and armoured through to test the shipwright's art,
therein to beat, loud, strong and true, her mighty iron heart;
Each plate and rivet, weld and seam to deadly purpose sworn,
and thus in fire and blood and iron was frigate 'Plymouth' born.
Four hundred long and forty wide, drawn sixteen in her draught,
three thousand tons of vengeful steel to laud the warsmith's craft;
Set cannon fore and mortar aft to give that vengeance tongue,
that shrill her fearsome battle hymn in smoke and flame be sung;
For shipped she crew near thirteen score, stout hearted tars and true,
to fill her throat with fire and brass to pound her dread tattoo.
They decked her in her battle dress; In frocks of storm sky grey,
and with her smoke black locks atrail, they loosed her seek her prey;
Swift grey assassin sleek and bold, her heart as black as sin,
each iron sinew strained and taut beneath that steel strung skin;
To prowl each ocean, sea and bay for two decades and more,
a restless wraith 'mongst salt sea mists; Asteer some foreign shore.
Til dark upon, and far away, did fall a loutish heel,
an alien foe with dark intent; Our sovereign soil to steal;
At night ashore a Falkland isle beneath a foreign flag,
to call their own within all sight of that foul limpen rag;
All bold they hoist it high and proud on Stanley's civic mast,
to dare Britannia raise her shield and south her trident cast.
And thus did Plymouth bare her teeth and southward turn her face,
her iron heart ahammer as she forced its pulse to race;
Her turbines' wail a wolven howl upon the coal black night,
as cruel as any grey maned beast apace a prey in flight;
All flare her jet black nostrils as they set her breath aflame,
a snarling, slav'ring hound of war; On vengeance bent she came.
To touch with death South Georgia's Isle she sou' sou' eastward skewed,
there to ashore, with fierce intent, Britannia's lethal brood;
Proud hen aguard her deadly chicks she brought them all abeach,
til safe into the gath'ring gloom she saw them vanish each;
Then homaged she the martial gods and tarried each to bless,
'fore turning from their deadly work; Her own dread suit to press.
Swift to San Carlos Water then as vanguard brave she came,
Britannia's warrior daughter come; Her birthright to reclaim;
Brave sentinel, full square she stood, to flout the birds of war,
and 'llow her sisters' deadly broods be safely put ashore;
Though hawk on hawk, their talons keen, tore at her beak and claw,
no quarter gave nor quarter sought although they raked her raw.
Though grave her wounds, and dire their needs, her oaken hearted crew,
stood each their station, steadfast all, good yeoman stock and true;
And to the beat of shot and shell; Each bomb that set her reel,
sang loud each throat her battle hymn in notes of fire and steel;
Til bloodied red in tooth and claw; And rent and torn and spent,
her duty done and task complete she 'llowed herself relent.
Twas then she saw her finest hour: In Stanley harbour's lea,
first warship in, proud ensign high, for all her foes to see;
Til last in Plymouth's ward room did the vanquished stoop to sign,
as the garrison surrender in South Georgia was resign;
'Fore battered, bruised and sorely scarred she northward rode the foam,
the lochs to tend her grievous wounds: Then Devonport... And home.
And now her turn, so boldly served, has brought her to her rest,
to take her place in history 'mongst bravest and the best;
But not for her the cutter's torch, nor yet the gunner's mark,
not while there breathes a naval salt or Janner worth the hark;
To bring her home to Guzz again; To 'gainst its foreshore lie,
and rest her keel a final time beneath a Plymouth sky...
© Sullivan the Poet 2009
At the time of writing this; HMS Plymouth is moored on the river Mersey at Birkenhead - a mooring she will lose in the next six to nine months as the municipal authorities want to 'develop' the quay on which she is moored. As a result there was a deal of talk by the authorities of cutting her up... HMS Plymouth Association continue to protest that action and are working with the WWC to rescue her.
In the hope of not only preventing that, but returning her to her home port of Plymouth a company - http://www.warshipmanagement.co.uk - was set up to raise the money to buy her for the nation and take her to Devon. They have raised enough so far to buy her, tow her to Devon and have her surveyed. What they do not have as of yet, despite their best attempts to rent one from Plymouth City Council, the MOD and Devonport Dockyard, is a berth for her.
In the face of total disinterest on the part of the City's council and leaders; not to mention downright hostility on the part of the maritime authorities, the only answer is to attempt to raise enough money to buy her a berth outright, open her to the general public as part of our naval heritage and let her live out her retirement in peace and dignity as a training ship for the Sea Cadets and a naval museum in her home port...
I am sure there are many naval men and Falklanders out there who have a soft spot for both the City whose name she bears and this 'Warrior Maid' and feel she should be saved for the nation and returned to rest in her home port of Plymouth in Devon.
If you want to help then you can do so by copying this poem, with this letter, and pasting it on any and all forums/blogs and/or web sites you have access to. Publicity is everything and ONLY with YOUR help can the 'Save HMS Plymouth' campaign succeed...
If you wish to make a donation however then that is outside my jurisdiction and you should therefore contact HMS Plymouth Association direct for further details on the following... http://www.sponsorformsonline.co.uk/HMSPlymouth.asp
Please make use of this opportunity to spread the word far and wide by posting on other websites/message boards/blogs ..... wherever you can think of