Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE OLD RETIRED SEACAPTAIN, by JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY

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THE OLD RETIRED SEACAPTAIN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The old sea-captain has sailed the
Last Line: In the cloud of his beetling beard.
Alternate Author Name(s): Johnson Of Boone, Benj. F.
Subject(s): Discontent; Retirement; Sailing & Sailors; Sea; Dissatisfaction; Ocean

THE old sea-captain has sailed the seas
So long, that the waves at mirth,
Or the waves gone wild, and the crests of these,
Were as near playmates from birth:
He has loved both the storm and the calm, because
They seemed as his brothers twain, --
The flapping sail was his soul's applause,
And his rapture, the roaring main.

But now -- like a battered hulk seems he,
Cast high on a foreign strand,
Though he feels "in port," as it need must be,
And the stay of a daughter's hand --
Yet ever the round of the listless hours, --
His pipe, in the languid air --
The grass, the trees, and the garden flowers,
And the strange earth everywhere!

And so betimes he is restless here
In this little inland town,
With never a wing in the atmosphere
But the windmill's, up and down;
His daughter's home in this peaceful vale,
And his grandchild 'twixt his knees --
But never the hail of a passing sail,
Nor the surge of the angry seas!

He quits his pipe, and he snaps its neck --
Would speak, though he coughs instead,
Then paces the porch like a quarterdeck
With a reeling mast o'erhead!
Ho! the old sea-captain's cheeks glow warm,
And his eyes gleam grim and weird,
As he mutters about, like a thunderstorm,
In the cloud of his beetling beard.

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