Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, HARVEST, by DANA BURNET



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HARVEST, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: There was a schooner came ashore this fall
Last Line: That one might bring his soul to paradise.
Subject(s): Death; Harvest; Sea; Dead, The; Ocean


There was a schooner came ashore this fall;
A graceful thing flung on the bar and slain,
With draggled gear, her stays about her trucks
Like blown hair, . . and her beauty all in vain.

She floundered through the spray with crumpled wings,
A gray bird smothered in a leaping doom.
We huddled there at dawn to see her die,
A circle of white faces in the gloom.

There was a cold light reaping in the east,
A slow scythe cutting at the field of stars,
And wind to beat a strong man down. We stood
Watching five dots that specked her tossing spars.

Five human souls. . . . We saw the sea reach up
And pluck at them with great white-fingered hands --
Three times the life-boat thrust against the surf;
The sea laughed loud . . . and broke it on the sands.

So there was nothing more to do. The end
Came as the sun burst through its iron clouds.
The racked ship staggered, reeled, and disappeared --
The flung spume served the dead men as their shrouds.

And then, clear-voiced, the village church-bell sang
Above the wind and sea. . . . We had forgot
What day it was. Now suddenly we turned
Together toward the house where death is not.

No word was spoken, yet we all went in
To the still aisles and knelt upon the floor.
A man was there, a drunkard and a thief,
One who had never been in church before.

He kneeled beside us, twisting his red hands,
A startled glory in his sodden eyes. . . .
I thought of five men silent in the sea
That one might bring his soul to paradise.





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