Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 4. BY THE MERSEY, by EDWARD CARPENTER



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TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 4. BY THE MERSEY, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I watched the sunlight on the river mersey
Last Line: Far out to the atlantic.
Subject(s): Mersey (river), England


I WATCHED the sunlight on the river Mersey—all glorious with sailing
clouds and shadows—and sailing craft and steamers on the tide—a
stirring sight!
And heard the clang and clamor of Liverpool behind me;
And saw in front the crowded ferry-boats crossing, and gulls in clusters
swooping down for garbage;
[Two steps on the green water with webbed feet—and up again, their
full beaks raised in air!]

And the great Atlantic liner lay at the landing-stage, towering up, a
mighty wall of iron, full thirty feet, over the little people who rushed to and
fro below, completing the last shipments and farewells.
For even now the gong sounded in the ship's interior; and all was
ready—every rope in place;
The shrouds and stays were taut on mast and spar;
Two slender wires, Marconi's, at the stern, ran sloping down from
mizen-truck to wheel-house,
Ready to catch (far out at sea) a faint thrill from the home-land.
The little tug's towing-cable strained too at the monster but still four
mighty hawsers held her fast;
And still she delayed to move, and still the folk, on ship and shore, with
jokes and quips beguiled the hour of parting.

Then sudden rang a bugle from the deck. Down came blue peter; and the
foghorn sounded.
The hawsers fell, and she was free. A moment more, magnificent, she glided
down the river.

And instantly from all the decks (from some of the portholes too) there
burst a flutter of waving hands and scarves—a fringe of white, answered by
such another fringe on shore;
And instantly I saw—what I had missed before—
[Stronger, it seemed, than even cable and hawser, more numerous and tense
than shrouds and stays, finer and subtler than Marconi wires,]
A thousand invisible threads which bound the ship, and would not be cast
off or loosed or snapt,
But tugged and strained at living human hearts—and strained and tugged
and tore—
Till hearts were sore and broken:
Threads of some unseen world—that stretched and stretched, and floated
like fair gossamers in the evening light—
So fine and strong, so stronger even than steel;
And followed lengthening as the great ship faded—lost in the glory of
sunset—
Far out to the Atlantic.





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