Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE MAYFLOWER [DECEMBER 21, 1620], by ERASTUS WOLCOTT ELLSWORTH



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THE MAYFLOWER [DECEMBER 21, 1620], by            
First Line: Down in the bleak december bay
Last Line: Mayflower.
Subject(s): Carver, John (1575-1621); Mayflower (ship); Pilgrim Fathers


DOWN in the bleak December bay
The ghostly vessel stands away;
Her spars and halyards white with ice,
Under the dark December skies.
A hundred souls, in company,
Have left the vessel pensively, --
Have touched the frosty desert there,
And touched it with the knees of prayer.
And now the day begins to dip,
The night begins to lower
Over the bay, and over the ship
Mayflower.

Neither the desert nor the sea
Imposes rites: their prayers are free;
Danger and toil the wild imposes,
And thorns must grow before the roses.
And who are these? -- and what distress
The savage-acred wilderness
On mother, maid, and child, may bring,
Beseems them for a fearful thing;
For now the day begins to dip,
The night begins to lower
Over the bay, and over the ship
Mayflower.

But Carver leads (in heart and health
A hero of the commonwealth)
The axes that the camp requires,
To build the lodge and heap the fires.
And Standish from his warlike store
Arrays his men along the shore,
Distributes weapons resonant,
And dons his harness militant;
For now the day begins to dip,
The night begins to lower
Over the bay, and over the ship
Mayflower;

And Rose, his wife, unlocks a chest --
She sees a Book, in vellum drest,
She drops a tear and kisses the tome,
Thinking of England and of home:
Might they -- the Pilgrims, there and then
Ordained to do the work of men --
Have seen, in visions of the air,
While pillowed on the breast of prayer
(When now the day began to dip,
The night began to lower
Over the bay, and over the ship
Mayflower),

The Canaan of their wilderness
A boundless empire of success;
And seen the years of future nights
Jewelled with myriad household lights;
And seen the honey fill the hive;
And seen a thousand ships arrive;
And heard the wheels of travel go;
It would have cheered a thought of woe,
When now the day began to dip,
The night began to lower
Over the bay, and over the ship
Mayflower.





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