The Sailor’s Genesis | William Thomas Online | William Thomas

The Sailor’s Genesis



 By William Thomas

In the Beginning there was water.

And the Earth was water

And water was the Earth.

God flicked some on his cat and was pleased.

But the bristling feline hissed,

And thus the winds were born.


("I didn't say anything about a breeze," God said.

But it was too late to undo

The first of many

unintended consequences.)


Next God proclaimed, "Let there be land."

And behold!

Land arose from the sea.

And it was firm under hoof and claw,

Even as the Great Waters

bore up the finned and flippered.


And God said, “Let there be a sailor,”

And lo! a seafarer came swaying up the wharf

Carrying sheath knife and marlinspike,

Battered accordion and a pipe to draw upon.

Head held high, those ocean-blue eyes… 

… already scanning some far place.


And God said, "For Godssake, get dressed."

So the sailor donned a loose blouse with eye patch,

Kerchief, Topsiders and an itchy pair

of bellbottom dungarees.

But God rued his hasty command,

For she was a comely lass.


"Where's my boat?" demanded the seawoman.

And God waved his arms,

And a raft appeared and it was good.

But not that good.

"At least make the ends pointy and upswept,"

the sailor insisted.


God’s gaze lingered on her design and construction,

The boat, I mean.

But the new hand frowned.

"Where's the sail to catch every cat’s paw?" she inquired.

And so the first mast and mainsail appeared.

Followed by a working jib.


Then God slapped his forehead:

"You must be lonely," he said.

"I’ll build you a shipmate."

"Just leave my ribs alone," his prototype warned.

So God spit on some dirt and epoxy

and stood upright a seaman named Jack Tar.


"What do I do with this big lunk?"

Jane Tar wanted to know.

"He can help paddle and pull on the ropes,"

God guessed.

"Lines," she said.

"Ropes are called lines, you silly lubber."


And so passed the Sixth Day of Creation

in something less than perfect harmony.

God wiped his brow, for it is hot in the tropics.

"I'm fried," said he, "making all this stuff. 

I'm taking a day off – don't get into any mischief

whilst I'm visiting the Land of Nod." 


But the sailors,

being sailors,

burnt offerings,

loosed the lines,

and cast off...


And here we are today.





With the northern route out of Africa blocked by impassable desert, the first high-tech Pleistocene seafarers crossed the 4-kilometer-wide strait of Bab el-Mandeb into Arabia around 900,000 years ago.


Beyond the Red Sea’s “Gate of Tears”, pre-human Homo erectus made open water passages from Indonesia’s Lombok to Flores islands, leaving 840,000-year-old stone tools and chipped burnt bones of small elephants in their wake.


"All the traits that fundamentally define modern humans were first developed by Homo erectus," declares Robert Bednarik, whose First Mariners Project uses Stone Age tools to construct and sail similar rafts.


Because the skills needed for these feats were conveyed using speech and lines drawn in the sand, all modern cultures are the prehistoric voyagers’ legacy. So next time you want to honour your origins, thank a sailor.



 发件人     William Thomas 2019