Ancient Maps

Here be legendary leviathans,

brutal behemoths

and all manner of monster.


Mermaids with looking-glasses

lure sailors into the sea.


Sharp-prowed schooners,

cutters, frigates, galleons

go bravely o’er the waves

in search of

all the world’s exotica,

returning with gold and cinnamon,

cargoes of tea, strange fruit and parakeets.


All the world is here,

scattered across the flat surface,

drawn, depicted, described,

from mundane to bizarre,

travellers’ tales fabricated

to fanciful excess.


Knowledge is power is ownership

and to hold and know the map

is to lay claim to its contents

and all the wealth of the world.  


Note  This poem was inspired by an exhibition of ancient maps at the British Library circa 2010