Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE NEW ARGONAUTS, by WILLIAM ALLEN BUTLER



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THE NEW ARGONAUTS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Today the good ship sails!
Last Line: O cursed love of gold!
Subject(s): Fortune; Gold Mines & Miners; Greed; Sailing & Sailors; Avarice; Cupidity; Seamen; Sails


TO-DAY the good ship sails!
Across the sparkling sea,
To-day the northern gales
Are blowing swift and free;
Speed, speed her distant way
To that far land of gold;
A richer prize we seek than they,
The Argonauts of old!

Who goes with us? Who quits the tiresome shore,
And sails where Fortune beckons him away;
Where in that marvellous land, in virgin ore,
The wealth of years is gathered in a day?
Here, toil and trouble are our portion still,
And still with want our weary work is paid,
Slowly the shillings drop into the till,
Small are the profits of our tedious trade;
There, Nature proffers with unstinted hands
The countless wealth the wide domain confines,
Sprinkles the mountain streams with golden sands,
And calls the adventurer to exhaustless mines.
Come, then, with us! What are the charms of home?
What are the ties of friends or kindred worth?
Thither, O thither, let our footsteps roam,
There is the Eden of our fallen earth!

Well do we hold the fee of those broad lands
Wrested from feebler hands,
By our own sword and spear;
Well may the weeping widow be consoled,
And orphaned hearts their ceaseless grief with-hold;
Well have our brothers shed their life-blood here,
Say, could we purchase at a price too dear
These boundless acres of uncounted gold?

Come, then! it is to-day,
To-day the good ship sails,
And swift upon her way
Blow out the northern gales;
A twelvemonth more, and we
Our homeward course shall hold,
With richer freight within than theirs,
The Argonauts of old!

Alas for honest labor, from honest ends averted!
Alas for firesides left, and happy homes deserted!
Brightly the bubble glitters; bright in the distance
The land of promise gleams,
But ah, the phantom fortunes of existence
Live but in dreams!
Behold the end afar—
Beyond the bright deceptive cloud,
Beneath what dim, malignant star,
Sails on the eager crowd!
Some in mid-ocean lie;
Some gain the wished-for shore
And grasp the golden ore,
But sicken as they grasp, and, where they sicken, die!
There have they found, beside the mountain streams,
On desolate crags where the wild eagle screams,
In dark ravines where Western forests wave, Gold and a grave!
Some for the spendthrift's eager touch;
Some for the miser's hoarded store;
Some for the robber's grasp, the murderer's clutch,
Heap up the precious ore,
Dear bought with life's lost strength, and the heart's withered core!

O cursed love of gold!
Age follows age,
And still the world's slow records are unrolled
Page after page;
And the same tale is told,
The same unholy deeds the same sad scenes unfold!
Where the assassin's knife is sharpened,
In the dark;
Where lies the murdered man in the midnight,
Cold and stark;
Where the slave groans and quivers under
The driver's lash;
Where the keen-eyed son of trade is bartering
Honor for cash;
Where the sons wish the fathers dead, of their wealth
To be partakers;
Where the maiden of sixteen weds the old man
For his acres;
Where the gambler stakes his all on the last throw
Of the dice;
Where the statesman for his country and its glory
Sets a price!
There are thy altars reared, thy trophies told,
O cursed love of gold!





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