Passage of Time

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So the first time I read this poem I thought it was about pirates going around and stealing things from other people. Then through the passage of time and different ships they began to steal more valuable things that could be used to keep them alive, but after reading it a few more times (maybe like twenty more times) I was able to figure out a better and more likely meaning.

John Masefield's "Cargoes 1902" illustrates how little value the essentials for life. In the first two stanzas the ships are carrying "ivory/and apes and peacocks" (3-4) and "diamonds/emeralds, amethysts" (8-9) and they're supposedly ships that were further back in history than the newest ship which is enters in the third stanza which shows the more valuable basic needs that humans need in order to survive like "tyne coal,/Road-rails, pig-lead,/Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin-trays" (13-15). These items can be used to keep a person warm or to build a shelter with. The "cheap tin-trays" could be used to carry food on which some of the basic needs are met. The poem is designed to show through the progress of time that people have become more aware of what is essential to their well being. Masefield does this expertly by breaking the three different time periods into three stanzas that allows the reader to differentiate the difference between the changes of time.

Karyssa had a very cool and interesting idea about the poem, too. By combining the two, I think they make a more complete picture of what the poem was trying to get acrossed.  

5 Comments

Jessie Krehlik said:

I'm not disagreeing with you, but I had a different thought when I was reading this poem. I thought that Masefield was trying to encourage the readers to discover that not much has changed throughout the ages in terms of trade. In the beginning, the traders cared about ivory and exotic animals. Then they turned to gems. In the third stanza, they have a lust for iron, something that is an essential in modern times. So, I guess I can see where you're coming from, because it does appear that they've began to see what's really valuable and what's really essential. Good find!

Melissa Schwenk said:

I'm a little confused on your comment. It sounded like you intended to tell me a different interpretation, but then ended up agreeing with me on it. However, I read your blog entry and your interpretation. I thought you had a good idea as well. It sounded like you realized that nothing really seemed to change as far as valuable objects. Interesting idea.

Jessie Krehlik said:

Yeah, I ended up agreeing with you halfway through my comment. Lol. I guess what I meant to say what that when I first read the poem, I had my own interpretation, and although I don't think my interpretation is necessarily wrong, I think your interpretation makes a lot more sense. Sorry for the confusion!

That's really interesting! In my blog on "Cargoes 1902," I thought of a different analysis. I read the poem and believed it to be a way for Masefield to reflect the degradation of society over time. However, your interpretation makes a lot of sense, too. Perhaps our interpretations could even be combined. Over time, society has degraded so that one can only care for the essentials. There is no longer such a thing as a life of luxury.

I'm going to link to your blog in mine.

Melissa Schwenk said:

Karyssa - I linked you back, not realizing you had made a link to your own blog. Either way, I think you're right. With your blog entry of how things change and seem to get worse, it shows an alternate view of what I was trying to get across, but at the same time it works well when attempting to figure out what the poem is trying to state.

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Melissa Schwenk on Passage of Time: Karyssa - I linked you back, n
Karyssa Blair on Passage of Time: That's really interesting! In
Jessie Krehlik on Passage of Time: Yeah, I ended up agreeing with
Melissa Schwenk on Passage of Time: I'm a little confused on your
Jessie Krehlik on Passage of Time: I'm not disagreeing with you,