Story Poem

The Voyages of Caractacus Gibbon

By Rhys Hughes

Caractacus in Rome: A Welsh king in 1st century AD who resisted the Roman invasion. Courtesy: Creative Commons

First Voyage

He took a ship,
a sailing ship,
and he sailed away
across the bay
but then he turned around
with a frown and groan
and came right back
to his home town
and postponed his
trip for another day
because it was raining.
Oh, brave Caractacus Gibbon!

Second Voyage

He took a ship,
another ship,
and he cast away
the mooring ropes
and all his hopes
of having fun
were at a high
as he toured the sun
kissed lands on
the far ocean’s side
and his smile was wide
as he allowed the tide
to pull him into a harbour
where damsels stood
in a welcoming pose
with very few clothes
and he told them stories
about the glories of
sailing the deep blue sea
on a vessel of wood
and they giggled
as if tickled and wiggled
hips and pouted lips
and he was a happy man.
Oh, plucky Caractacus Gibbon!

Third Voyage

He took a ship,
a gift from the king,
tied up in a ribbon instead
of string, and he
sailed it far by following a star
to the edge of the world
where a pool that whirled
span him around
and down with a dreadful sound
and he ended up
spilling a cup of rum
over his tum and then his bum
as the ship capsized
and his subsequent sighs
were deeper than any abyss.
Oh, sopping Caractacus Gibbon!

First Drunken Interlude

I’m a jolly sailor
but I go to a very good tailor
and so you can see
when you look at me
my coat with a hood
fits perfectly and so
do my shirts, my trousers too,
but just to you I must
confess that I look a mess
because I wear them back to front.
Is that understood?

Fourth Voyage

He took a ship,
a groaning hulk,
and though he sulked
and made a fuss
like a fish on a hook,
he sailed it through
the foaming murk
of the stormy passage
where it’s not at all obvious
If he’ll emerge alive
in time for his tea
at a quarter past five
but he did, yes he did.
Oh, thirsty Caractacus Gibbon!

Fifth Voyage

He took a boat,
a rowing boat, 
and he rowed it
right into the mouth
of a thesaurus
and because the planks
of his hull were porous /
hollow / full of holes
he wallowed / rolled
until he was swallowed /
consumed by the waves
but he remained
bold / courageous / brave
as he went down
in a race to the bottom
without a frown
on his visage / face.
Oh, valiant Caractacus Gibbon!

Second Drunken Interlude

You are a figurehead
most alluring, and if I said
we ought to wed
I wonder how
you would respond?
And yes, I know
you are made of wood
and fastened to the bows
of this ship with pegs
But I don’t care,
you have great legs.
Let’s get varnished together!

Sixth Voyage

He took a canoe
all painted blue
and he paddled while addled
with a potent brew
and somewhere out there
upon the sea an eel jumped
up and bit his knee
but for only for a moment.
Well, we are quite aware
that when an eel
bites our knee in such a way
that eel’s a Moray.
Only when it bites our knee
for rather longer can we say
with confidence that
the eel’s a Conger,
and this one didn’t do so.
And now he wishes
He was resting on a couch,
ouch ouch ouch!
Oh, sore Caractacus Gibbon!

Seventh Voyage

He took a raft,
which is extremely daft,
and he let it drift
in a random direction
and for many days
without a purpose
he sat and talked to dolphins
with great affection
but never to creatures similar
in shape and size
who were a lot less friendly
and a little less wise.
Yes, he sat and talked
for many long days
without a porpoise.
Oh, lonely Caractacus Gibbon!

Third Drunken Interlude

Come with me
and be my fantasy girl
under the pearly grey
of the stormy sea
and we’ll drink tea
laced with rum
and have such fun
in courteous Atlantis
dunking biscuits
provided gratis
by the inhabitants
beneath the sea.
Come my love,
we ought to risk it.

Eighth Voyage

He took a ship,
a paddle steamer,
and splashed his way
to the port of Lima
to buy bananas
from tropical farmers.
What a dreamer!
But he didn’t know
he had a stowaway,
a cunning schemer
hiding in the hold.
And then one night
on the journey back
when the stars were bright
and the wind was light
the uninvited passenger
came up on deck
and climbed the mast
fast to the very top.
Heck, it was a monkey!
And the hold was full
of empty banana skins.
Oh, fruitless Caractacus Gibbon!

Ninth Voyage

He took a yacht,
how about that?
carved in one piece
from an iceberg,
And he sailed away
with an open mouth
directly south
to the hottest place
on the face of the earth
but he kept his cool
for as a general rule
he rarely panicked
unless his mechanic
who was a parrot
shouted a warning
that the ice was melting
which he soon did
just before flying away
unlike the captain
who was forced to stay
and end up in the drink.
Oh, steamy Caractacus Gibbon!

Last Voyage

He took a ship,
a sailing ship,
and he wrapped it up
in a very big sack
and addressed it to
or maybe you don’t
but that’s not my fault,
and with a stamp
he mailed it thither
like a gigantic arrow
in an enormous quiver
because it’s easier
to let the post office
do the work while
he stayed behind
with an enormous smirk.
Oh, efficient Caractacus Gibbon!

Rhys Hughes has lived in many countries. He graduated as an engineer but currently works as a tutor of mathematics. Since his first book was published in 1995 he has had fifty other books published and his work has been translated into ten languages.



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