Schepen van Hout, Mannen van IJzer

Proverbial poster

‘Ships of wood, men of iron’, a Dutch proverb romanticizing the seamen’s life.

It spoke to me of some nostalgic dream of the rough sailor: one steel-faced man against the elements. It would be a solitary life, frequently away from loved ones and delivered to the cold ocean. How does such an existence mark someone? At times, it must have been a gruelling existence.

Does the iron man reminisce about old times like a fond memory, or is he caught up in a familiar nightmare?
© Max Philippi