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The Bonadventure A Random Journal of an Atlantic Holiday   By: (1896-1974)

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THE WAGGONER and other poems by Edmund Blunden

JOHN CLARE Poems chiefly from MSS. selected and edited with a biographical note by Edmund Blunden and Alan Porter

THE SHEPHERD and other poems of Peace and War by Edmund Blunden awarded the Hawthornden Prize, 1922 Third Edition


A Random Journal of an Atlantic Holiday


"There ships divide their wat'ry way, And flocks of scaly monsters play; There dwells the huge Leviathan, And foams and sports in spite of man."

Isaac Watts.




Copyright 1922

Printed in Great Britain by Butler & Tanner, Frome and London



A few facts are perhaps needed in this place. The autumn of 1921 found me in bad health, which seemed to me to be gaining ground. The Editors for whom it is my privilege to work were of that mind too, and suggested a sea voyage. I am one of that large class who can afford little more than voyages in ships which are hauled over on chains; but this was allowed for in every possible way by my Editors, in consequence of whose active generosity and that of the owners to whom my case was made known, I suddenly found myself bound for the River Plate. I can but say that when my friends expressed their envy I was well able to understand their feelings and my good luck.

For the rest, this little book is not intended for anything beyond the statement on the title page. I am sorry myself that there are no adventures of the blood curdling sort in it; but I could not go out of my way, nor do tramps find time, it seems, for propitiating cannibals. Of unrehearsed effects on voyages, indeed, my belief is that it is possible sometimes to have too much. Eastward of Madagascar, we read, lies Tromelin Island a sandbank a mile long. In 1761 the Utile was wrecked there, and eighty blacks were left behind; all died except seven of the women, who clung to life for fifteen years, nourished on shell fish and brackish water, until Captain Tromelin landed and saved them. Now I cannot feel sorry that I was not one of that party.

There is, naturally, some slender disguise of names and so forth through my journal. There may be, it occurs, a S.S. Bonadventure at the present day; if it is so, this is not the ship. My grateful recollections of Captain Hosea, his officers and crew apply to those gentlemen indeed, but they do not sign on by the names which I have for this occasion invented. Thus their own example leads me; how much oftener was I hailed as "Skylark" and "Jonah" than as


London, December 23, 1921.

Dear Blunden,

There you are, outward bound and southward ho! Here am I, with the newsboys outside shouting the latest imbecility to the murk, trying to get warm and happy by considering a dull electric heater and the faded memory of another ship (she went downstairs in the war) which, years ago, on a December morning, passed through the lock gates at Swansea for Para and all, while I stood by her rail sorry for the people who had not my luck. Now it is your turn. Make the most of it. It will do something to take away the taste of Stuff Trench. You will find me, when you come home, still over the electric stove listening to the newsboys. I shall call for wine, and you must tell me all about the Fortunate Isles. I am sure they are still there, and that you will see them.

O, a Cardiff ship sails down the river (Blow, boys, blow!) Her masts and yards they shine like silver (Blow, my bully boys, blow!)

Sing up, Blunden! And don't forget to take soap, towels and matches... Continue reading book >>

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