The Israeli Navy

By Marvin Bell b. 1937 Marvin Bell
The Israeli Navy,
sailing to the end of the world,   
stocked with grain
and books black with God’s verse,   
turned back,
rather than sail on the Sabbath.   
Six days, was the consensus,
was enough for anyone.

So the world, it was concluded,   
was three days wide
in each direction,
allowing three days back.
And Saturdays were given over   
to keeping close,
while Sundays the Navy,
all decked out in white
and many-colored skullcaps,   
would sail furiously,
trying to go off the deep end.

Yo-ho-ho, would say the sailors,   
for six days.
While on the shore their women moaned.

For years, their boats were slow,   
and all show.
And they turned into families   
on the only land they knew.

Marvin Bell, “The Israeli Navy” from Nightworks: Poems 1962-2000. Copyright © 2000 by Marvin Bell. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P. O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA 98368-0271, www.coppercanyonpress.org

Source: Nightworks: Poems 1962-2000 (Copper Canyon Press, 2000)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Marvin Bell b. 1937

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Religion, Judaism, Social Commentaries, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, War & Conflict

 Marvin  Bell

Biography

American poet and critic Marvin Bell "is a poet of the family. He writes of his father, his wives, his sons, and himself in a dynamic interaction of love and loss, accomplishment, and fear of alienation. These are subjects that demand maturity and constant evaluation. A complete reading of Bell's canon shows his ability to understand the durability of the human heart. Equally impressive is his accompanying technical . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Judaism, Social Commentaries, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, War & Conflict

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.