Crossing The Line - Equator Page 3


"Crossing The Line" - Part 3




NEPTUNE: Latin NEPTUNUS, in Roman religion, originally the god of freshwater; by 399 BC he was identified with the Greek God, POSEIDON and thus became a deity of the sea. His female counterpart, Salacia, was perhaps originally a goddess of leaping springwater, subsequently equated with the Greek Amphitrite. Neptune's festival (Neptunalia) took place in the heat of the summer (July 23), when water was scarcest; thus, its purpose was probably the propitiation of the freshwater deity. Neptune had a temple in the Circus Flaminius at Rome; one of its features was a sculptured group of marine deities headed by Poseidon and Thetis. In art Neptune appears as the Greek Poseidon, whose attributes are the trident and the dolphin. - source Encyclopaedia Brittanica

Above: Neptune holding his trident, classical sculpture; in the Lateran Museum, Rome.




(To the Commodore)--


And Commodore, the gunner’s friend,
This - Veteran Novice Star - append
We on your ample chest, Sir.


(To the Captain)--


The honoured - "Equatorial Star"
To which We’ve added half a bar,
Friend Captain, you may wear, Sir.


(To the Secretary)--


And then the "Equinoctial Cross"
A talisman ensuring joss,
Friend Share, Sir, is your Share, Sir.


At this stage Her Majesty, with much graciousness and charm of manner, conferred the Insignia of the Most Unfathomable Order of the Deep Sea Needle, First Class, upon the Lady Jellicoe.


The King then continued speaking:

(To the Court in general)—


On this same spot, as you may know,
We held a Court some years ago,
Before the days of Scapa flow,
That bleakand barren harbour.
We’ve heard about the Firth of Forth;
And all your gallant deeds up north
Were told Us by Our Barber.
Though seldom ‘us We have a moan
To one complaint We’re forced to own
Against the Royal Navy.
Throughout these awful years of war
Too many submarines by far
You sent down to Our Davy.
Those U Boats’ Crews We well could spare,
They’re far from popular down there; (pointing)
Our realm became disjointed.
And Then We’d like to add a word
About that nonense so absurd,
Pointless yet fourteen pointed.
There is a “Freedom of the Seas,”
But Wilson does not hold the keys
To open or to lock it.
That Freedom’s found here on Our Line,
The keys as well—for they are Mine!
I have them in My pocket.
And this suggests The treat in store
For those We’ve never met before,
We’ll have them separated.
Before Ourself and Amphitrite
According to the ancient rite
They'll be initiated
and if successfully they cope
With Order of the Bath and Soap
We’ll have them decorated.
Then Surgeon, Barber, Police, stand by
And order every novice nigh
In order precedented.
And one by one by rule of rank
To Surgeon, Barber, and to Tank
They now shall be presented.


The Admiral replied--


Your Majesty, we are as pleased as may be
With Your orders, Your speech and Your letter.
It’s a pleasure to tell that you’re looking so well
For I’ve seldom seen You looking better.
Her Majesty sweet I’m delighted to greet
Sire, how could You manage without Her?
When I last met Your Queen, she was terribly lean,
I’m happy to see that She’s stouter.
My wife, Sir, and I, would have wished to reply
To Your kindness in far greater detail,
But time it runs short, I’m detaining the Court,
So Your bounty I’ve no time to retail;
But this I must say in a very brief way,
‘Twas through love of the sea and of You, Sir,
That we vanquished the Hun in the way we have done,
And we’re telling the Empire right through, Sir,
That safe we shall be while we stick to the sea,
And we’ll ne’er have a cause to regret it
If Neptune’s our friend, we shall win in the end,
And I pray we may never forget it.


Then Their Majesties, followed by the whole Court, ascended the Roya I Platform and took Their places on the Thrones.


The King, in these words, declared the Court open--


Attention! King Neptune I the Lord supreme
‘Ere there were ships, or sails, or steam.
Of all the seven oceans wide,
The lord of wave, the lord of tide
The monarch of the watery deep,
Whose laws the whales and fishes keep;
Here on this midship deck declare
‘Fore fellows fine and ladies fair
Our Court is open.
And all Our honoured rules of Court
Shall be obeyed, let shrift be short
To any who shall dare transgress
The proper speech, the proper dress.
If one offend a rule of Mine
Though twenty times across Our Line,
He’s crossed upon Our Azure Main.
Our Bears shall have him once again,
And treated worse than novice be
Shall by those Bears and Barbers, be,
Therefore beware!
And now Our rule of Court decrees
The grant of Freedom of Our Seas
To all who’ve not yet got that rank
By ordeal of the suds and tank
Let them get ready!
And this the order in which they
Shall be presented here today:
The Admiral’s charming better half,
The Commodore and then the staff,
The Ward Room Officers then bid,
The Gun Room with the Mighty Mid.,
The Warrants - few I think of those,
The C.P.s and the mere P.O.s,
And then the rest until the crew
We’ve worked Our weary way right through.


So stand by Surgeon!
Stand by Barber!
Stand by Bears!


In order then as We command
Before Us let each novice stand
Who has that freedom yet to win:
Enough! My trusty men! begin!