This Poem was Submitted By: Ronda Michelle Nelson On Date: 2004-01-25 16:48:19 . . . Click Here To Mail this Poem to a Friend!

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In Tribute

Across a tired harbor a relentless assault, lay heavy upon her shore a war torn Charleston was under siege, in the trembling winter of '64. The blockade runners were kept at bay, the life line of the city by Union ships pounding unmercifully, crumbling the bell of Dixie.  The coastal town was in dire straits, for a savior to be found to sink the enemy just off her bay, and silence their cannon round. It would come in form of an under water ship, to sink the war machine a new Idea of the times, the birth of the modern submarine.  An iron clad tomb for two crews before, as she took them to the bottom a ghostly spectacle her gray clad shell, known as "the peripatetic coffin." They hoisted her up and cleaned her new, again to swim the sea her victims respectfully laid to rest, for their service on the CSS Hunley.  Known for his conviction and bravery, who walked with a limp in his stride from a near fatal wound at Shilo, where a gold coin would save his life. Lt. George E. Dixon, an army man born for the sea convinced a discouraged general, to entrust to him the Hunley  Dixon seeked a courageous sort, to climb below her dank walls with time running out for Charleston, a crew hastily answered the call Her hand cranked propeller spun, by sweaty hands once more the crew's muscle and determination, pushed her across the ocean floor.  Miller, Wicks, Becker and Ridgaway, Collins, Simkins and Carlson the volunteers of the hunley, the unlikely saviors of Charleston. Nightly they ran their forays, the seven sailors and Dixon for the fate of Charleston would depend, on their successful mission.   The water lay quiet on a cold winter's eve, in invitation for their quest conditions fell in their favor, to put the union cannons to rest. The fog creeped over the harbor, with the Hunley following it's lead up to the bow of the Housatanic, out of range of her cannons, beneath.   A watchman spotted the approach, of an object not of his time he strained to see more clearly, what chased the fog from behind? Not a porpoise! nor floating debree, as the fear mounted upon his brow what in hell was this? he ask, as the gray phantom approached the bow.  The alarm rang out upon her decks, men scurried in a panic the warship was kicked in reverse, to save the mighty Housatanic. But the Hunley changed her course, swinging 'round to the stern quarter between the main and mizzen masts, she lunged at Dixon's order.  A great explosion shook the night, for those afloat and below the Hunley had made a successful strike, with the burst of her torpedo. The Sloop went down within minutes, the Hunley scurried to be free from the burst of her destruction, and the vacum of an angry sea.  Soon afterward her lantern was seen, to signal the mission complete her land crew on shore shouted in victory, for the crew of the CSS Hunley. But the ocean wasn't to give them back, those that disturbed her rest her lantern faded slowly into the mist, inhaled by the ocean's breath.   A legend would spread of Dixon's gold coin, given by his lady in wait for luck to bring him home to her, safe passage to her warm embrace. But his luck was rendered to fate, and irony would twist a restless sea never would he return to her, nor home, the crew of the CSS Hunley. 

Copyright © January 2004 Ronda Michelle Nelson

Additional Notes:
The Hunley was discovered a few years ago on the bottom of the edge of Charleston Harbor. She was suprisingly well preserved with the remains of the crew inside. Along beside Dixon's remains was a gold coin..with the inscribtion of. Shilo My life preserver GED The crew will be laid to rest this April, 2004, in Charleston with full military honors. Thankyou for reading ..hopefully I will get out of my historical story telling mood soon! LOL

This Poem was Critiqued By: Claire H. Currier On Date: 2004-02-04 17:03:09
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.56579
I don't mind your being in a historical storrytelling mood poet.....your words are wonderful, the structure grand and you allow the reader to partake in the situation though being under water did not sit well for awhile......still the images projected with the flare of your pen brought forth parts of history that I for one never ventured into....for that I thank you and it was so well suggestions poet this piece stands on its own merit as did the safe and God Bless, Claire My mother in law is from Georgia do you have any stories from the south that might apply? Just wondering since your storytelling is grand.......she has been here in New England for a good fifty years and she still has her southern drawl which I so love to listen to and her rosy cheeks come alive as she tells her own tales......

This Poem was Critiqued By: Irene E Fraley On Date: 2004-01-27 19:55:13
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.62500
Hi Rhonda, Wow! An epic poem, and one that tells an interesing story to boot! I enjoyed this unmetered, rhymed poem. The story of the "CSS Hunley" is a good one with adventure, action, good imagery and romance. I was impressed at the many difficult rhymes you found, which I thought showed a very creative mind indeed. There is one set of lines that I particularly liked for its imager, "But the ocean wasn't to give them back, those that disturbed her rest her lantern faded slowly into the mist, inhaled by the ocean's breath." Good writing, especially, "inhaled by the ocean's breath." Thanks for sharing this poem with us Ronda, Rene Fraley
This Poem was Critiqued By: Regis L Chapman On Date: 2004-01-26 16:59:35
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.19643
Very nicely done, as before! I am not one for historical retellings, but yours have a personality and a point of view that makes them very nice to read. Almost like a old newpaper, or bard retelling. Also, I appreciate the news, as I had not heard about this. I have only some minor quibbles with this poem: "Her hand cranked propeller spun, by sweaty hands once more" - feels a bit redundant, and could be compacted a bit, or made more understandable. I see a couple of opportunities for this: "The Hunley" - if this was the name of the ship, it could be referred to as such consistently throughout the poem. "But the ocean wasn't to give them back, those that disturbed her rest her lantern faded slowly into the mist, inhaled by the ocean's breath." - feels also a bit redundant somehow- maybe a different term "debree" - poetic license? misspelling? older Confederate English?
This Poem was Critiqued By: marilyn terwilleger On Date: 2004-01-26 11:04:54
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.39130
Hi Ronda, I really enjoy these epic poems and you have done a great job with this one. I do notice that the rhyme does not follow a strict pattern throughout the piece, however, the cadence is never sacrificed for the sake of the rhyme. The rhythm is so lyrical that it has a soothing effect on the reader. The story is wonderful and excellent in content. Sometime very long poems just don't garner the attention of the reader but I have read this one twice and loved it twice! Keep writing in this style as you are very adept at it...bravo for this one! Blessings...Marilyn
This Poem was Critiqued By: Jennifer j Hill On Date: 2004-01-26 09:12:25
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.94118
Dear Ronda, Please don't ever get out of your historical story telling mood. This is such a great tribute and told in such a good way. These rhymed quatrains read slendidly and the story is one that holds our interest. I was a horrible American Hstory student, but I am convinced if I could have studied history in this format I would have learned alot more. Thank you for teching me about Dixon and his valient efforts and also showing me how much more intersting hisotry can be if presented like this! Blessings, Jennifer
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