We get on a boat, never mind if it sinks, we pay
the captain by throwing him overboard. And when he
gets back onboard we say, captain, please don’t be
angry. And he forgives us this time. And so we throw
him overboard again just to make sure we have fully
paid the price we have set upon our passage. When he
gets back onboard he is not anxious to forgive us,
and he would like it much better if we would get off
his boat. There is nothing left for us to do but to
repay him and hope that this time it will be enough.
And so we throw him overboard again. When he comes
aboard again we say, now this must be the last of
this, we will pay no more, we want the journey to
begin.

But it seems there will be no journey since we have
gotten the captain used to a good thing. And so we
must spend the rest of our days throwing the captain
overboard.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Russell Edson's poem Paying The Captain

1 Comment

  1. Dr. Noah Young says:

    Edson is a zen master! ALL of his work is stimulating, thought-provoking and, in a sense, mystical….in this particular poem, simply substitute “the captain,” for one’s self-seeking ego and you get the picture!! brilliant.

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