So there’s a new Pirates of the Caribbean movie in theaters. It’s number four, if my count is correct. I won’t be bothering to see it. As far as I’m concerned, there is only one true Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and that’s The Curse of the Black Pearl. But there will always be some people who will line up for any number of sequels, and hence, as long as Hollywood is driven by the quest for profits rather than artistic integrity there will always be far more sequels than there should be. With that in mind, the following from Chesterton could serve as a basis for the next entry in the franchise, much as Tim Powers’ novel On Stranger Tides did for the current offering.
Of the Dangers Attending Altruism on the High Seas
Observe these Pirates bold and gay,
that sail a gory sea
notice their bright expression: —
the handsome one is me.
We plundered. ships and harbours,
we spoiled the Spanish main;
but Nemesis watched over us,
for it began to rain.
Oh all well-meaning folk take heed
Our Captain’s fate was sore
a more well-meaning Pirate,
had never dripped with gore.
The rain was pouring long and loud,
the sea was drear and dim;
a little fish was floating there
our Captain pitied him.
“How sad,” he said, and dropped a tear,
splash on the cabin roof,
“that we are dry, while he is there
without a waterproof.”
“We’ll get him up on board at once;
for Science teaches me,
he will be wet if he remains
much longer in the sea.
They fished him out; the First Mate wept,
and came with rugs and ale:
the Boatswain brought him one golosh,
and fixed it on his tail.
But yet he never loved the ship;
against the mast he’d lean:
if spoken to, he coughed and smiled,
and blushed a pallid green.
Though plied with hardbake, beef and beer,
he showed no wish to sup:
the neatest riddles they could ask,
he always gave them up.
They seized him and court-martialled him,
in some excess of spleen,
for lack of social sympathy,
(Victoria XII. 18).
They gathered every evidence
that might remove a doubt:
they wrote a postcard in his name,
and partly scratched it out.
Till, when his guilt was clear as day,
with all formality,
they doomed the traitor to be drowned,
and threw him In the sea.
The flashing sunset, as he sank,
made every scale a gem;
and, turning with a graceful bow,
he kissed his fin to them.
I am, I think I have remarked,
(the second Ice-age was a farce,
the first was rather cold).
A friend of mine, a Trilobite,
had gathered in his youth,
when Trilobites were Trilobites,
this all-important truth.
We aged ones play solemn parts —
sire — guardian — uncle — king.
Affection is the salt of life,
kindness a noble thing.
The old alone may comprehend
a sense in my decree;
but — if you find a fish on land,
oh throw it in the sea.
– G. K. Chesterton, Greybeard at Play