Posted by: John Looker | 17 July, 2022

How the Pacific was Conquered

‘Whatever propelled them, one momentous day / they left, a speck between the ocean and the sky.’

I’m posting a poem each week on the theme of the journey, the quest, the odyssey: taken from my book Shimmering Horizons. Here’s the fifth.

If you recognise the form of this poem you might be interested to hear that I felt a sestina would convey the feeling of time being suspended in the middle of a seemingly endless voyage.

Shimmering Horizons was published in 2022 by Bennison Books and is available through Amazon at minimal price. In Britain it may be borrowed through public libraries from the National Poetry Library.


  1. A brilliant sestina John. I think you’re right about such a form suspending time. I’m not sure if I love the form or not (I don’t mean your poem – I mean the form in the abstract). I think given the echoing of word repetition that sestinas should always be read aloud in order to pick up the flow of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good point Bruce. They are indeed vert tricky and can so easily sound contrived – reading them aloud is quite a good test.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this, John! You are a master of forms when you give them a ride! This reminds me of the time I spent with the Maori at the wanaga in New Zealand and how, especially, the young people described how they were going out in their waka and surviving on the open ocean for days. Magnificent!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Tom, and many thanks. That must have been a wonderful experience. I’ve seen seagoing Maori waka in Auckland and Dunedin museums and they are Big! Beautiful too but ships rather than canoes.

      Liked by 1 person

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