Tuesday, May 24, 2016

DMC: "Cossack Song" by Doraine Bennett

Old Hesselberg, half dead,
mans the helm.
Scurvy is our master.
Waxell gives no orders.
Bering lies helpless on his bunk.
None listen to Herr Stellar.
The ship drifts, deadwood in a tossing sea.

Never will I carry
Anya to the Cossack crug, 
nor have their blessing
to call her wife,
will not raise sons
faithful to serve my tsar,
teach them the ways of war, 
share their prayers at evensong.

A Cossack should die in battle,
not drowned in the sea.
What else to do but sing?

“Stormy clouds delirious straying,
Showers of whirling snowflakes white,
And the pallid moonbeams waning—
Sad the heavens, sad the night.”

© 2014 Doraine Bennett. All rights reserved.

Laura Shovan has challenged us to write persona poems this month. Click HERE for more details. You don't need to include the artwork that inspired your poem, but you are welcome to as long as I can properly attribute the artist/photographer.

Send your poem to TodaysLittleDitty (at) gmail (dot) com, or use the contact form in the sidebar to the right. All contributions will be included in a wrap-up celebration this Friday, May 27th, and one lucky participant will win a personalized copy of her fantastic new verse novel for middle grade readers:


  1. Impressive, Dori. So much narrative packed into this poem!

  2. Thanks, Tabatha. I think that happens when you love the story.

  3. I agree, the story here is so compelling. I'm waiting for the verse novel, Dori– saving room on my shelf. :)

  4. You've achieved such a mournful tone. Such a story deserves a poem and I'm glad you wrote it! I love "deadwood in a tossing sea".

  5. This is a beautiful weaving together of history, culture, and personal story. What image did you use for inspiration, Dori?

  6. I hope so, too, Michelle.
    It was a mournful event, Linda. I'm glad that came through.
    Laura, the story is from Vitus Bering's second voyage for Russia to determine whether the Bering Strait actually separated the two continents. Bering actually landed in Alaska, for all of about 10 hours and Stellar (his physician/botanist) collected samples. Think Stellar's jay and Stellar's sea cow. It was a disastrous journey home with scurvy, shipwreck, and Bering's death. Sad story that sucked me right in.

  7. It was the first Kamtschatka Expedition!!