Every schoolchild probably had to learn this one by heart, its language seemingly mystical & incantatory. It came as an immense disappointment to me when teacher explained that quinquereme was merely a kind of ship, not an exotic product of the East.
Small British coasters were still a familiar sight in the 1950s, unloading goods at harbour in small ports such as Tenby, Whitby, Falmouth & Fowey with their cargoes.
Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir,
Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,
With a cargo of ivory,
And apes and peacocks,
Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.
Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,
Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,
With a cargo of diamonds,
Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.
Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
With a cargo of Tyne coal,
Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays.