Henry Van Dyke |
June 22, 1611
THE SHALLOP ON HUDSON BAY
One sail in sight upon the lonely sea
And only one, God knows! For never ship
But mine broke through the icy gates that guard
These waters, greater grown than any since
We left the shores of England.
We were first,
My men, to battle in between the bergs
And floes to these wide waves.
This gulf is mine;
I name it! and that flying sail is mine!
And there, hull-down below that flying sail,
The ship that staggers home is mine, mine, mine!
My ship Discoverie!
The sullen dogs
Of mutineers, the bitches' whelps that snatched
Their food and bit the hand that nourished them,
Have stolen her.
You ingrate Henry Greene,
I picked you from the gutter of Houndsditch,
And paid your debts, and kept you in my house,
And brought you here to make a man of you!
You Robert Juet, ancient, crafty man,
Toothless and tremulous, how many times
Have I employed you as a master's mate
To give you bread? And you Abacuck Prickett,
You sailor-clerk, you salted puritan,
You knew the plot and silently agreed,
Salving your conscience with a pious lie!
Yes, all of you -- hounds, rebels, thieves! Bring back
Too late, -- I rave, -- they cannot hear
My voice: and if they heard, a drunken laugh
Would be their answer; for their minds have caught
The fatal firmness of the fool's resolve,
That looks like courage but is only fear.
They'll blunder on, and lose my ship, and drown, --
Or blunder home to England and be hanged.
Their skeletons will rattle in the chains
Of some tall gibbet on the Channel cliffs,
While passing mariners look up and say:
"Those are the rotten bones of Hudson's men
"Who left their captain in the frozen North!"
O God of justice, why hast Thou ordained
Plans of the wise and actions of the brave
Dependent on the aid of fools and cowards?
Look, -- there she goes, -- her topsails in the sun
Gleam from the ragged ocean edge, and drop
Clean out of sight! So let the traitors go
Clean out of mind! We'll think of braver things!
Come closer in the boat, my friends.
You take the tiller, keep her head nor'west.
You Philip Staffe, the only one who chose
Freely to share our little shallop's fate,
Rather than travel in the hell-bound ship, --
Too good an English seaman to desert
These crippled comrades, -- try to make them rest
More easy on the thwarts.
And John, my son,
My little shipmate, come and lean your head
Against your father's knee.
Do you recall
That April morn in Ethelburga's church,
Five years ago, when side by side we kneeled
To take the sacrament with all our men,
Before the Hopewell left St.
On our first voyage? It was then I vowed
My sailor-soul and years to search the sea
Until we found the water-path that leads
From Europe into Asia.
That God has poured the ocean round His world,
Not to divide, but to unite the lands.
And all the English captains that have dared
In little ships to plough uncharted waves, --
Davis and Drake, Hawkins and Frobisher,
Raleigh and Gilbert, -- all the other names, --
Are written in the chivalry of God
As men who served His purpose.
I would claim
A place among that knighthood of the sea;
And I have earned it, though my quest should fail!
For, mark me well, the honour of our life
Derives from this: to have a certain aim
Before us always, which our will must seek
Amid the peril of uncertain ways.
Then, though we miss the goal, our search is crowned
With courage, and we find along our path
A rich reward of unexpected things.
Press towards the aim: take fortune as it fares!
I know not why, but something in my heart
Has always whispered, "Westward seek your goal!"
Three times they sent me east, but still I turned
The bowsprit west, and felt among the floes
Of ruttling ice along the Gröneland coast,
And down the rugged shore of Newfoundland,
And past the rocky capes and wooded bays
Where Gosnold sailed, -- like one who feels his way
With outstretched hand across a darkened room, --
I groped among the inlets and the isles,
To find the passage to the Land of Spice.
I have not found it yet, -- but I have found
Things worth the finding!
Son, have you forgot
Those mellow autumn days, two years ago,
When first we sent our little ship Half-Moon, --
The flag of Holland floating at her peak, --
Across a sandy bar, and sounded in
Among the channels, to a goodly bay
Where all the navies of the world could ride?
A fertile island that the redmen called
Manhattan, lay above the bay: the land
Around was bountiful and friendly fair.
But never land was fair enough to hold
The seaman from the calling of the sea.
And so we bore to westward of the isle,
Along a mighty inlet, where the tide
Was troubled by a downward-flowing flood
That seemed to come from far away, -- perhaps
From some mysterious gulf of Tartary?
Inland we held our course; by palisades
Of naked rock where giants might have built
Their fortress; and by rolling hills adorned
With forests rich in timber for great ships;
Through narrows where the mountains shut us in
With frowning cliffs that seemed to bar the stream;
And then through open reaches where the banks
Sloped to the water gently, with their fields
Of corn and lentils smiling in the sun.
Ten days we voyaged through that placid land,
Until we came to shoals, and sent a boat
Upstream to find, -- what I already knew, --
We travelled on a river, not a strait.
But what a river! God has never poured
A stream more royal through a land more rich.
Even now I see it flowing in my dream,
While coming ages people it with men
Of manhood equal to the river's pride.
I see the wigwams of the redmen changed
To ample houses, and the tiny plots
Of maize and green tobacco broadened out
To prosperous farms, that spread o'er hill and dale
The many-coloured mantle of their crops;
I see the terraced vineyard on the slope
Where now the fox-grape loops its tangled vine;
And cattle feeding where the red deer roam;
And wild-bees gathered into busy hives,
To store the silver comb with golden sweet;
And all the promised land begins to flow
With milk and honey.
Stately manors rise
Along the banks, and castles top the hills,
And little villages grow populous with trade,
Until the river runs as proudly as the Rhine, --
The thread that links a hundred towns and towers!
And looking deeper in my dream, I see
A mighty city covering the isle
They call Manhattan, equal in her state
To all the older capitals of earth, --
The gateway city of a golden world, --
A city girt with masts, and crowned with spires,
And swarming with a host of busy men,
While to her open door across the bay
The ships of all the nations flock like doves.
My name will be remembered there, for men
Will say, "This river and this isle were found
By Henry Hudson, on his way to seek
The Northwest Passage into Farthest Inde.
Yes! yes! I sought it then, I seek it still, --
My great adventure and my guiding star!
For look ye, friends, our voyage is not done;
We hold by hope as long as life endures!
Somewhere among these floating fields of ice,
Somewhere along this westward widening bay,
Somewhere beneath this luminous northern night,
The channel opens to the Orient, --
I know it, -- and some day a little ship
Will push her bowsprit in, and battle through!
And why not ours, -- to-morrow, -- who can tell?
The lucky chance awaits the fearless heart!
These are the longest days of all the year;
The world is round and God is everywhere,
And while our shallop floats we still can steer.
So point her up, John King, nor'west by north.
We 'l1 keep the honour of a certain aim
Amid the peril of uncertain ways,
And sail ahead, and leave the rest to God.
Sidney Lanier |
A Story of Christmas Eve.
Strange that the termagant winds should scold
The Christmas Eve so bitterly!
But Wife, and Harry the four-year-old,
Big Charley, Nimblewits, and I,
Blithe as the wind was bitter, drew
More frontward of the mighty fire,
Where wise Newfoundland Fan foreknew
The heaven that Christian dogs desire --
Stretched o'er the rug, serene and grave,
Huge nose on heavy paws reclined,
With never a drowning boy to save,
And warmth of body and peace of mind.
And, as our happy circle sat,
The fire well capp'd the company:
In grave debate or careless chat,
A right good fellow, mingled he:
He seemed as one of us to sit,
And talked of things above, below,
With flames more winsome than our wit,
And coals that burned like love aglow.
While thus our rippling discourse rolled
Smooth down the channel of the night,
We spoke of Time: thereat, one told
A parable of the Seasons' flight.
"Time was a Shepherd with four sheep.
In a certain Field he long abode.
He stood by the bars, and his flock bade leap
One at a time to the Common Road.
"And first there leapt, like bird on wing,
A lissome Lamb that played in the air.
I heard the Shepherd call him `Spring':
Oh, large-eyed, fresh and snowy fair
"He skipped the flowering Highway fast,
Hurried the hedgerows green and white,
Set maids and men a-yearning, passed
The Bend, and gamboll'd out of sight.
"And next marched forth a matron Ewe
(While Time took down a bar for her),
Udder'd so large 'twas much ado
E'en then to clear the barrier.
"Full softly shone her silken fleece
What stately time she paced along:
Each heartsome hoof-stroke wrought increase
Of sunlight, substance, seedling, song,
"In flower, in fruit, in field, in bird,
Till the great globe, rich fleck'd and pied,
Like some large peach half pinkly furred,
Turned to the sun a glowing side
"And hung in the heavenly orchard, bright,
Then, while the Ewe
Slow passed the Bend, a blur of light,
The Shepherd's face in sadness grew:
"`Summer!' he said, as one would say
A sigh in syllables.
So, in haste
(For shame of Summer's long delay,
Yet gazing still what way she paced),
"He summoned Autumn, slanting down
The second bar.
A Wether, fleeced in burning brown,
And largely loitered down the Road.
"Far as the farmers sight his shape
Majestic moving o'er the way,
All cry `To harvest,' crush the grape,
And haul the corn and house the hay,
"Till presently, no man can say,
(So brown the woods that line that end)
If yet the brown-fleeced Wether may,
Or not, have passed beyond the Bend.
"Now turn I towards the Shepherd: lo,
An aged Ram, flapp'd, gnarly-horn'd,
With bones that crackle o'er the snow,
Rheum'd, wind-gall'd, rag-fleec'd, burr'd and thorn'd.
"Time takes the third bar off for him,
He totters down the windy lane.
'Tis Winter, still: the Bend lies dim.
O Lamb, would thou wouldst leap again!"
Those seasons out, we talked of these:
And I (with inward purpose sly
To shield my purse from Christmas trees
And stockings and wild robbery
When Hal and Nimblewits invade
My cash in Santa Claus's name)
In full the hard, hard times surveyed;
Denounced all waste as crime and shame;
Hinted that "waste" might be a term
Including skates, velocipedes,
Kites, marbles, soldiers, towers infirm,
Bows, arrows, cannon, Indian reeds,
Cap-pistols, drums, mechanic toys,
And all th' infernal host of horns
Whereby to strenuous hells of noise
Are turned the blessed Christmas morns;
Thus, roused -- those horns! -- to sacred rage,
I rose, forefinger high in air,
When Harry cried (SOME war to wage),
"Papa, is hard times ev'ywhere?
"Maybe in Santa Claus's land
It isn't hard times none at all!"
Now, blessed Vision! to my hand
Most pat, a marvel strange did fall.
Scarce had my Harry ceased, when "Look!"
He cried, leapt up in wild alarm,
Ran to my Comrade, shelter took
Beneath the startled mother's arm.
And so was still: what time we saw
A foot hang down the fireplace! Then,
With painful scrambling scratched and raw,
Two hands that seemed like hands of men
Eased down two legs and a body through
The blazing fire, and forth there came
Before our wide and wondering view
A figure shrinking half with shame,
And half with weakness.
"Sir," I said,
-- But with a mien of dignity
The seedy stranger raised his head:
"My friends, I'm Santa Claus," said he.
But oh, how changed! That rotund face
The new moon rivall'd, pale and thin;
Where once was cheek, now empty space;
Whate'er stood out, did now stand in.
His piteous legs scarce propped him up:
His arms mere sickles seemed to be:
But most o'erflowed our sorrow's cup
When that we saw -- or did not see --
His belly: we remembered how
It shook like a bowl of jelly fine:
An earthquake could not shake it now;
He HAD no belly -- not a sign.
"Yes, yes, old friends, you well may stare:
I HAVE seen better days," he said:
"But now, with shrinkage, loss and care,
Your Santa Claus scarce owns his head.
"We've had such hard, hard times this year
For goblins! Never knew the like.
All Elfland's mortgaged! And we fear
The gnomes are just about to strike.
"I once was rich, and round, and hale.
The whole world called me jolly brick;
But listen to a piteous tale.
Young Harry, -- Santa Claus is sick!
"'Twas thus: a smooth-tongued railroad man
Comes to my house and talks to me:
`I've got,' says he, `a little plan
That suits this nineteenth century.
"`Instead of driving, as you do,
Six reindeer slow from house to house,
Let's build a Grand Trunk Railway through
From here to earth's last terminus.
"`We'll touch at every chimney-top
(An Elevated Track, of course),
Then, as we whisk you by, you'll drop
Each package down: just think, the force
"`You'll save, the time! -- Besides, we'll make
Our millions: look you, soon we will
Compete for freights -- and then we'll take
Dame Fortune's bales of good and ill
"`(Why, she's the biggest shipper, sir,
That e'er did business in this world!):
Then Death, that ceaseless Traveller,
Shall on his rounds by us be whirled.
"`When ghosts return to walk with men,
We'll bring 'em cheap by steam, and fast:
We'll run a Branch to heaven! and then
We'll riot, man; for then, at last
"`We'll make with heaven a contract fair
To call, each hour, from town to town,
And carry the dead folks' souls up there,
And bring the unborn babies down!'
"The plan seemed fair: I gave him cash,
Nay, every penny I could raise.
My wife e'er cried, `'Tis rash, 'tis rash:'
How could I know the stock-thief's ways?
"But soon I learned full well, poor fool!
My woes began, that wretched day.
The President plied me like a tool.
In lawyer's fees, and rights of way,
"Injunctions, leases, charters, I
Was meshed as in a mighty maze.
The stock ran low, the talk ran high:
Then quickly flamed the final blaze.
"With never an inch of track -- 'tis true!
The debts were large .
the oft-told tale.
The President rolled in splendor new
-- He bought my silver at the sale.
"Yes, sold me out: we've moved away.
I've had to give up everything.
My reindeer, even, whom I .
Excuse me" .
Poor Santa Claus burst into tears,
Then calmed again: "my reindeer fleet,
I gave them up: on foot, my dears,
I now must plod through snow and sleet.
"Retrenchment rules in Elfland, now;
Yes, every luxury is cut off.
-- Which, by the way, reminds me how
I caught this dreadful hacking cough:
"I cut off the tail of my Ulster furred
To make young Kris a coat of state.
That very night the storm occurred!
Thus we became the sport of Fate.
"For I was out till after one,
Surveying chimney-tops and roofs,
And planning how it could be done
Without my reindeers' bouncing hoofs.
"`My dear,' says Mrs.
Claus, that night
(A most superior woman she!)
`It never, never can be right
That you, deep-sunk in poverty,
"`This year should leave your poor old bed,
And trot about, bent down with toys,
(There's Kris a-crying now for bread!)
To give to other people's boys.
"`Since you've been out, the news arrives
The Elfs' Insurance Company's gone.
Ah, Claus, those premiums! Now, our lives
Depend on yours: thus griefs go on.
"`And even while you're thus harassed,
I do believe, if out you went,
You'd go, in spite of all that's passed,
To the children of that President!'
"Oh, Charley, Harry, Nimblewits,
These eyes, that night, ne'er slept a wink.
My path seemed honeycombed with pits.
Naught could I do but think and think.
"But, with the day, my courage rose.
Ne'er shall my boys, MY boys (I cried),
When Christmas morns their eyes unclose,
Find empty stockings gaping wide!
"Then hewed and whacked and whittled I;
The wife, the girls and Kris took fire;
They spun, sewed, cut, -- till by and by
We made, at home, my pack entire!"
(He handed me a bundle, here.
"Now, hoist me up: there, gently: quick!
Dear boys, DON'T look for much this year:
Remember, Santa Claus is sick!"
William Topaz McGonagall |
A sad tale of the sea I will relate, which will your hearts appal
Concerning the burning of the steamship "City of Montreal,"
Which had on board two hundred and forty-nine souls in all,
But, alas! a fearful catastrophe did them befall.
The steamer left New York on the 6th August with a general cargo,
Bound for Queenstown and Liverpool also;
And all went well until Wednesday evening the 10th,
When in an instant an alarming fire was discovered at length.
And most of the passengers had gone to their berths for the night,
But when the big bell rang out, oh! what a pitiful sight;
To see mothers and their children crying, was most heartrending to behold,
As the blinding smoke began to ascend from the main hold.
And the smoke before long drifted down below,
Which almost choked the passengers, and filled their hearts with woe;
Then fathers and mothers rushed madly upon the deck,
While the crew were struggling manfully the fire to check.
Oh, it was a soul-harrowing and horrible sight,
To see the brave sailors trying hard with all their might;
Battling furiously with the merciless flames --
With a dozen of hose, but still the fire on them gains.
At length it became apparent the steamer couldn't be saved,
And the passengers were huddled together, and some of them madly raved;
And the family groups were most touching to see,
Especially husbands and wives embracing each other tenderly.
The mothers drew their little ones close to them,
Just like little lambs huddled together in a pen;
While the white foaming billows was towering mountains high,
And one and all on God for protection did cry.
And when the Captain saw the steamer he couldn't save,
He cried, come men, prepare the boats to be launched on the briny wave;
Be quick, and obey my orders, let each one bear a hand-
And steer the vessel direct for Newfoundland.
Then the men made ready the boats, which were eight on board,
Hurriedly and fearlessly with one accord;
And by eight o'clock on Thursday morning, everything was ready
For the passengers to leave the burning steamer that was rolling unsteady.
Then Captain Land on his officers loudly did call,
And the cheery manliness of him inspired confidence in all;
Then he ordered the men to lower the boats without delay,
So the boats were launched on the stormy sea without dismay.
Then women and children were first put into them,
Also a quantity of provisions, then followed the men;
And as soon as the boats were loaded they left the steamer's side,
To be tossed to and fro on the ocean wide.
And just as they left the burning ship, a barque hove in sight,
Which filled the poor creatures' hearts with delight;
And the barque was called the "Trebant," of Germany,
So they were all rescued and conveyed to their homes in safety.
But before they left the barque, they thanked God that did them save
From a cold and merciless watery grave;
Also the Captain received their thanks o'er and o'er,
Whilst the big waves around the barque did sullenly roar.
So good people I warn ye ail to be advised by me,
To remember and be prepared to meet God where'er ye may be;
For death claims his victims, both on sea and shore,
Therefore be prepared for that happy land where all troubles are o'er.