Even pirates had their standards. One of the most famous and successful pirates was Bartholomew “Black Bart” Roberts (1682-1722). He was a Welshman who worked diligently with the crew of his ship, the Royal Fortune to draft bylaws in 1722. This was the pirate’s code. Here are a few of his actual rules and regulations:
- Your Vote Matters
“Every man shall have an equal vote in affairs of the moment. He shall have an equal title to the fresh provisions or strong liquors at any time seized, and shall use them at pleasure unless a scarcity makes it necessary for the common good that a retrenchment may be voted.”
- It’s Best Not to Steal
“Every man shall be called fairly in turn by the list on board of prizes, because over and above their proper share, they are allowed a shift of clothes. But if they defraud the company to the value of even one dollar in plate, jewels, or money, they shall be marooned. If any man rob another, he shall have his nose and ears slit, and be put ashore where he shall be sure to encounter hardships.”
- Leave the Gambling to the Landlubbers
“None shall game for money, either with dice or cards.”
- Stay on Your Toes and Be Battle-Ready
“Each man shall keep his piece, cutlass and pistols, at all times clean and ready for action.”
- Worker’s Comp for All
“Every man who shall become a cripple or lose a limb in the service shall have eight hundred pieces of eight from the common stock, and for lesser hurts proportionately.”
Pirate Poems: Try It
If you were the captain of a pirate ship (first, give it a name), what kinds of rules, regulations, or standards of conduct would you enlist? How would you enforce these hard and fast rules? Create a poem about the bylaws you’ve instituted aboard your vessel. You can also write a poem about the bylaws above.
Don’t forget to be good to your hearties, or they’ll mutiny.
Thanks to everyone who participated in last week’s poetry prompt. Here’s a poem from Andrew we enjoyed:
A Retired Sailor Seeking Work
I am he who the poet said once flew
The sound-fraught bay, vex’d the dim seas
And sped the globe around to chase
The rainy Hyades.
I’ve smelled the ocean brine
And knew it well – each curve,
Each twist of its tempestuous swell
Laid open for my eyes.
The far-off wooded cove oft struck my sight
When on the sea-tossed boards,
And often when the ship was slow
Strained forward, ever forward
With thought and mind in equal store
Yearning to set my foot upon the distant shore.
But now a sea-dog left to dry,
I while away the dreary hours,
Well liked, and oft remarked to cry
“Oh how I’d sell my soul for but one fee,
To ride once more upon the rolling sea!”
Yet I am old, and age hath left me
But a shadow of my youth,
Kept nothing of my features bold,
But graven on me the likeness of death.
The blood that courses in my veins is cold,
But not from just the passing years.
You may not see it, who hears this tale
But I have wept a thousand tears
For every week away from Neptune’s hold.
Take me on board and I will serve
As faithfully as God does man.
Let me once more feel land’s retreat
And I will kneel down at your feet,
The broken remnant of a broken sailor.
Once, I fought on land and sea for glory,
For distinction well deserved. And such I won,
But it does me no favour now
When I must ask with bated breath
If when you leave this god forsaken isle
Your crew will house an extra one.
Photo by Oona Räisänen. Creative Commons via Flickr.
How to Write a Poem uses images like the buzz, the switch, the wave—from the Billy Collins poem “Introduction to Poetry”—to guide writers into new ways of writing poems. Excellent teaching tool. Anthology and prompts included.
“How to Write a Poem is a classroom must-have.”
—Callie Feyen, English Teacher, Maryland