Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE CAPTAIN, by JOHN GARDINER CALKINS BRAINARD

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE CAPTAIN, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Solemn he paced upon that schooner's deck
Last Line: Riding at anchor, by a meeting-house.
Subject(s): New London, Connecticut; Sailing & Sailors; Seamen; Sails

SOLEMN he paced upon that schooner's deck,
And muttered of his hardships: "I have been
Where the wild will of Mississippi's tide
Has dashed me on the sawyer; I have sailed
In the thick night, along the wave-washed edge
Of ice, in acres, by the pitiless coast
Of Labrador; and I have scraped my keel
O'er coral rocks in Madagascar seas,
And often in my cold and midnight watch
Have heard the warning voice of the lee shore
Speaking in breakers! Ay, and I have seen
The whale and sword-fish fight beneath my bows;
And when they made the deep boil like a pot,
Have swung into its vortex; and I know
To cord my vessel with a sailor's skill,
And brave such dangers with a sailor's heart:
But never yet upon the stormy wave,
Or where the river mixes with the main,
Or in the chafing anchorage of the bay,
In all my rough experience of harm,
Met I -- a Methodist meeting-house!

Cat-head, or beam, or davit has it none,
Starboard nor larboard, gunwale, stem nor stern!
It comes in such a "questionable shape,"
I cannot even speak it! Up jib, Josey,
And make for Bridgeport! There, where Stratford Point,
Long Beach, Fairweather Island, and the buoy,
Are safe from such encounters, we'll protest!
And Yankee legends long shall tell the tale.
That once a Charleston schooner was beset,
Riding at anchor, by a meeting-house.

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