Robyn Hood Black - children's author, poet, artist

Hannah enjoying poetry workshop

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Hanging with fellow Georgia writers (from top, l-r) Tracy Walker, Heather Kolich, Donna Bowman, (bottom, middle) Janice Hardy and Paula Puckett
photo by Steve Kolich

Susan Rosson Spain, Robyn Hood Black, Elizabeth Dulemba, and Myra Meade at the Hall Book Exchange in Gainesville, Ga.
photo by Mel Hornsby

Southern Breeze Kudos Kites 09 - Donna, Robyn, Heather, Sarah, and Peggy

Robyn with Kathleen Duey, author extraordinaire

Robyn with Alaska Nature Writer Debbie Miller

photo by Robyn Hood Black
Paul B. Janeczko

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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday: Ahoy! Sea Songs, Pirates, Valentines....

February 5, 2015

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, sea, Etsy, art, ponderings, pirates

a peek into mini sea-themed works-in-progress.... ©Robyn Hood Black

At the beginning of last year, I shared an amazing gift sent to me by my friend and fellow writer Kim Siegelson (who has a keen antique sense and a great Etsy shop, too, Perfect Patina).

It was a nearly 700-page book – sumptuously covered and illustrated, titled:

Crown Jewels
Gems of Literature, Art, and Music
Choice Selections from the Writings and Musical Productions of the Most Celebrated Authors, From the Earliest Times

compiled by Henry Davenport Northrop, D. D., and published in 1888.

(To read my post about this wonderful book from Kim, in all its over-the-top Victorian glory, click here.)

In my art life for this new year, I’m working on more locale-friendly pieces to offer in my kiosk space at Fordham Market.
As in, things that might appeal to tourists and visitors of our delightful coastal town.

Lucky for me, CROWN JEWELS has many poems and songs about the sea! Though written a hundred (or few hundred) years ago, surely the words still ring like a ship’s bell to those who dock at our lovely marina, just across the street from my tucked-away studio. I’ve got some small shadow-box mixed media pieces in the works, featuring everything from excerpts to short entire poems to found poems I’ve "uncovered" in prose passages.

This week I broke out my printmaking supplies (have stayed away from since my neck/shoulder/hand/nerves injury in the fall), and it felt wonderful to carve into a small block of wood and later to breathe in the ink, hearing and feeling its sticky snap on glass as I rolled my brayer… even if I was making just a wee image. The mini prints are backgrounds for the clipped pieces of text, and, of course, there must be some vintage-y bling involved. I usually use actual old metal pieces. Occasionally, if I find just the right element offered by an artisan, I’ll use that. Just take a look at that lovely tiny anchor in the picture – it’s blackened pewter, handmade in the USA and cast as opposed to stamped, and available from Fallen Angel Brass on Etsy. Yep, I bought a few!

For these first few mini shadow boxes, I clipped this refrain from CROWN JEWELS. Warning: if you read it more than once, it will start sailing around in your head. A lot. Come on, read it out loud in your best gravelly pirate voice:


by Charles Dibdin

But sailors were born for all weathers,
     Great guns let it blow high or low,
Our duty keeps us to our tethers,
     And where the gale drives we must go.


Our Mr. Dibdin (1745-1814) wrote many songs over the course of his life and career.

Now, this excerpt, printed as a poem, is from a song. Which got me wondering about songs of the sea, which led me to looking up sea shanties. A sea shanty was a song sung by the crew of tall sailing ships back in the day – usually call-and-response, with simple lyrics. The songs helped everyone keep to the same rhythm, and likely kept boredom at bay on long journeys as well.

Hungry for more, ye say? Well, y’ave plenty of time to read up before International Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sept. 19), so ye might look in on this fun website I found,: The Pirate King.

Now, where were we?


In honor of Valentine’s Day coming up, here’s another poem from this literary treasure chest. I might just have to tuck it into my hubby’s Valentine – shhh; don’t tell!

Associations of Home

by Walter Condor

That is not home, where day by day
I wear the busy hours away;
that is not home, where lonely night
Prepares me for the toils of light;
‘tis hope, and joy, and memory, give
A home in which the heart can live.
It is a presence undefined,
O’ershadowing the conscious mind;
Where love and duty sweetly blend
To consecrate the name of friend
Where’er thou art, is home to me,
And home without thee cannot be.

Wishing you the comfort of “a presence undefined” among friends and loved ones this month.

Be sure to row back over next week, when we’ll enjoy some lovely haiku from our February Student Haiku Poet of the Month!

And now please visit our always-original Liz (Elizabeth) Steinglass, rounding up the fleet of Poetry Friday posts today at her blog .


  1. February 6, 2015 9:06 AM EST
    I love hearing about the intricacies of your work, all the carefully-chosen details! Glad you are able to do a spot of carving! Some of my favorite lines of these are : "Our duty keeps us to our tethers,/ And where the gale drives we must go" and "that is not home, where lonely night / Prepares me for the toils of light;" -- I guess I am feeling like waxing poetic about duty and toil today!
    - Tabatha
  2. February 6, 2015 9:08 AM EST
    Love hearing about your projects in the works. Those sea-inspired mini prints are lovely! That book Crown Jewels sounds like such a treasure -- thanks for sharing that Dibdin refrain and Associations of Home -- love the sentiment expressed there. :)
    - jama
  3. February 6, 2015 9:27 AM EST
    Hi, Tabatha! Thanks for the kind words and for sharing your favorite lines - and leave it to YOU to link the "duty" aspects in both poems!

    Jama, thanks for coming by. While I think the title of "Associations of Home" could use some modern sprucing up, I agree the sentiments are timeless and so well said in those last few lines. :0)
    - Robyn Black
  4. February 6, 2015 9:55 AM EST
    I love that stanza by Dibdin (and what a fun name!). I want to have that in a shadow box with some art - you are a genius! and so inspiring.
    - Andromeda
  5. February 6, 2015 10:14 AM EST
    Andi, you're right about the name - as catchy as the refrain! Thanks for your kind words. I hesitated posting "pieces parts" of unfinished stuff, but my life is always full of projects-in-progress, from art to laundry piles!
    - Robyn Black
  6. February 6, 2015 10:22 AM EST
    How fantastic to uncover old treasures in the Crown Jewels and feel their relevance again! Love and pirates, perfect pair of subjects to ponder.
    - Kim
  7. February 6, 2015 10:35 AM EST
    Kim, it's like a limitless gift you gave me! And yay for all that fun alliteration in your comment.... :0)
    - Robyn Black
  8. February 6, 2015 11:13 AM EST
    Oh, I absolutely love that poem!
    - Liz
  9. February 6, 2015 11:39 AM EST
    'Tis the season for love, Liz - glad you enjoyed! Thanks so much for hosting today. :0)
    - Robyn Black
  10. February 6, 2015 12:19 PM EST
    The message in the poem is engaging. I know some of the language is different than what we use today, but I like it. Thanks for sharing your work and the poem with us.
    - Patricia Cruzan
  11. February 6, 2015 1:16 PM EST
    Hi, Patricia - "engaging" is a great word. You are so right about the difference in language but the connection to its message nonetheless. Thanks for coming over!
    - Robyn Black
  12. February 6, 2015 3:28 PM EST
    Thank you for sharing your ART with us. The snap of the ink brayered on the glass--so perfect a detail to notice. I appreciate you.
    - Joy Acey
  13. February 6, 2015 4:05 PM EST
    I appreciate you, Dear Joy - thanks for coming by!
    - Robyn Black
  14. February 6, 2015 9:24 PM EST
    I love your woodblock, it looks celtic, curvy and intricate. The poetry is beautiful, too.
    - Brenda Harsham
  15. February 6, 2015 10:12 PM EST
    Hi, Brenda - thanks so much for visiting. And I always listen to Celtic music when I carve blocks. :0)
    - Robyn Black
  16. February 7, 2015 8:08 AM EST
    I love your description of printmaking. I think there's a poem there..."sticky snap on glass..."
    - Mary Lee Hahn
  17. February 7, 2015 8:33 AM EST
    Delighted you're feeling strong enough to do a bit of carving, Robyn. Lovely!

    Wonderful poetic selection for today, too. I may have to steal it for my own Valentine. Shhh. :)
    - Michelle Heidenrich Barnes
  18. February 7, 2015 8:50 AM EST
    Hi, Mary Lee - & thanks! Of course, your ear is fine-tuned to pick out poem material, which I love....

    Appreciate the warm words, Michelle. And please - steal away! I'm sure our Mr. Condor would be pleased. ;0)
    - Robyn Black
  19. February 7, 2015 11:48 AM EST
    I agree with Mary Lee about "sticky snap on glass." Great auditory phrase. It evokes a memory--a project we did in art class when I was a kid...
    - Diane Mayr
  20. February 7, 2015 8:40 PM EST
    Hi, Diane! Well, you are certainly tuned into the power of sound this month; glad Laura's great project is resonating with you. (That came out before I thought about it - really!) and glad to spark a memory of art class... :0)
    - Robyn Black
  21. February 7, 2015 9:16 PM EST
    Where’er thou art, is home to me,
    And home without thee cannot be.

    So lovely - for sailors and for everyone else who loves and thereby finds a home.
    - Tara
  22. February 8, 2015 2:31 AM EST
    I love these. Feeling very piratey now - am off to yo ho ho!
    - Sally Murphy
  23. February 8, 2015 1:09 PM EST
    Tara - beautifully worded! Thanks for coming by this weekend.

    Hi, Sally - wishing you smooth seas! :0)
    - Robyn Black
  24. February 9, 2015 2:45 AM EST
    I always love ruminations about home, particularly in verse. So powerful and strikes at the core of every breathing being finding their place in the world. So so beautiful. I just thought of Maureen McGovern's beautiful song "I Could have been a Sailor" - have you heard that one yet? Haunting.
    - Myra from GatheringBooks
  25. February 10, 2015 8:47 PM EST
    Dear Myra - "every breathing being finding their place in the world" - that's just beautiful. Glad you enjoyed that poem of a certain age! And thanks for the mention of the Maureen McGovern song - love her voice. I didn't know that song, but great to hear now. :0)
    - Robyn Black

Quick Clicks

bio, photos, interview links, etc.
Explore a poem or two or five....
Explore this genre of sparely crafted poetry which offers endless depth. Resources for students, teachers, and writers.
Author visits
In schools or other settings, Robyn shares her passion for writing and encourages creativity. Presentations for all age groups.
In addition to writing books, Robyn has sold her writing to major children's magazines.
A rhyming tale of a young boy's knightly adventure with an imagined dragon.
Nonfiction, interactive book on wolves featuring giant pop-up and tons of info!