Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, FABLE: NEPTUNE AND THE MARINERS, by NATHANIEL COTTON



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FABLE: NEPTUNE AND THE MARINERS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: When sore calamities we feel,
Last Line: The gallant george in safety rides.
Subject(s): Fables; Fortitude; Pain; Perseverance; Allegories; Suffering; Misery


WHEN sore calamities we feel,
And sorrow treads on sorrow's heel,
Our courage and our strength, we say,
Are insufficient for the day.
Thus man's a poor dejected elf,
Who fain would run away from self.
Yet turn to Germany, you'll find
An Atlas of a human mind!
But here I deviate from my plan,
For Prussia's king is more than man?
Inferior beings suit my rhyme,
My scheme, my genius, and my time;
Men, birds, and beasts, with now and then
A pagan god, to grace my pen.
A vessel bound for India's coast,
The merchant's confidence and boast,
Puts forth to sea—the gentle deep
Bespeaks its boist'rous god asleep.
Three cheerful shouts the sailors gave,
And zephyrs curl the shining wave.
A halcyon sky prevails awhile,
The tritons and the nereids smile.
These omens fairest hopes impress,
And half insure the George success.
What casual ills these hopes destroy!
To change how subject every joy!
When dangers most remote appear,
Experience proves those dangers near.
Thus, boast of health whene'er you please,
Health is next neighbour to disease.
'Tis prudence to suspect a foe,
And fortitude to meet the blow.
In wisdom's rank he stands the first,
Who stands prepar'd to meet the worst.
For lo! unnumber'd clouds arise,
The sable legions spread the skies.
The storm around the vessel raves,
The deep displays a thousand graves.
With active hands and fearless hearts
The sailors play their various parts;
They ply the pumps, they furl the sails,
Yet nought their diligence avails.
The tempest thickens every hour,
And mocks the feats of human pow'r.
The sailors now their fate deplore,
Estrang'd to every fear before.
With wild surprise their eye-balls glare,
Their honest breasts admit despair.
All farther efforts they decline,
At once all future hopes resign;
And thus abandoning their skill,
They give the ship to drive at will.
Straight enter'd with majestic grace,
A form of more than human race,
The god an azure mantle wore,
His hand a forked sceptre bore;
When thus the monarch of the main—
'How dare you deem your labours vain?
Shall man exert himself the less,
Because superior dangers press?
How can I think your hearts sincere,
Unless you bravely persevere?
Know, mortals, that when perils rise,
Perils enhance the glorious prize.
But, who deserts himself, shall be
Deserted by the gods and me.
Hence to your charge, and do your best,
My trident shall do all the rest.'
The mariners their task renew,
All to their destin'd province flew.
The winds are hush'd—the sea subsides,
The gallant George in safety rides.





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