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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hear (07/08/10)

TITLE: You'll Never Hear Its Name Agan
By Mariane Holbrook


He paced the ship’s deck until boredom set in;
He knew every knothole and board.
Sometimes he was greeted with just a “hello,”
By most he was simply ignored.

The sentence the judge handed down that grim day
Was harsher than death, many said.
But his was a crime that had struck at the core
And no one dreamed what lie ahead.

Young Philip Nolan first heard that his friend,
Aaron Burr, his companion for years,
Was tried in a courtroom for treason but won
A clear vindication by peers.

Named as accomplice, young Nolan burst forth
With fury and rage rarely heard.
In the silence that followed as fear filled the air,
No one uttered a sound or a word.

With venom, he then cursed the land of his birth,
Revealing deep anger and hate.
“I wish I may never again hear its name.”
And with that, Nolan sealed his own fate.

The judge pronounced sentence on Nolan that day,
“I’ll grant you your wish,” the judge said.
“You’ll spend all your life on our Navy’s warships;
Never hear of this country again.

“You’ll never set foot on the great U.S.A.
Or read about anything here.
The mates are forbidden to speak of our land;
You’ll lose all the things you’ve held dear.

At first he remained unrepentant and proud.
But then he was desperate to hear
Any word from the homeland that he had once cursed.
His sentence seemed harsh and severe.

For fifty long years Nolan changed ships at sea,
But always the rules were the same.
And as he lay dying, some officers found
His room was a true hall of fame.

A picture of Washington hung on the walll
A folded flag lay on his lap.
He’d painted an eagle, claws grasping the globe,
Below that, a U.S.A. map.

At Nolan’s request, he was buried at sea,
From one of the Navy warships.
Though he never would hear of the U.S. again
He died with its name on his lips.

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This article has been read 592 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Helen Dowd07/16/10
What a sad, heart-wrenching story this told. I had to read it three times to get the full meaning. But the end says it all: Although condemned to a punishment he didn't deserve, he died a hero for a country he loved. I'm not sure what else to say about this poem. It is such a sad tale. However, the writer certainly has a wonderful way with words and knows how to wring emotion from the reader. I have tears in my eyes. I would love to hear a full story of this, even though it may be just a fictional happening. ... Helen
Margaret Kearley 07/16/10
I just love stories set to verse and this is so beautifully done. Like Helen, I would love to know more - it has the mark of a true story.
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/16/10
I love how you set this fictional story to a wonderful poem-much more emotional than the story.
Dolores Stohler07/17/10
Although "The Man Without A County" is historical fiction, Philip Nolan was an actual person who served as the inspiration for the book. (I wanted to clarify this for anyone who is unfamiliary with the story.) I love the way you developed a poem around his story as presented in the novel. Very nicely done.
Linda Payne07/18/10
Well written. It reminds me of what hell is like--separation from our heavenly home and Father.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/22/10
Congratulations for placing in the top 15 of your level and the top 40 overall.