Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE DEVIL'S STEPPING-STONES, by ARTHUR GUITERMAN



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THE DEVIL'S STEPPING-STONES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: A sky of gold, a sea of blue
Last Line: Long island keeps the devil.
Subject(s): Devil; Legends; Long Island (n.y.); New York City; Sailing & Sailors; Satan; Mephistopheles; Lucifer; Beelzebub; Manhattan; New York, New York; The Big Apple; Seamen; Sails


A SKY of gold, a sea of blue,
A drowsy day of naught to do;
In pleasant waves our lines we threw
At anchor as we lay
Where, reaching through the gentle Sound,
Manhasset rears a wooded mound
And Schuyler, grimly cannon-crowned,
Disputes the narrow way.

Right merrily our angling throve!
By noon we sought a sheltered cove
Where, plunging, joyously we clove
The waters clear and cold.

Our feast we spread, our songs were sung;
Then, pipes alight, at ease we flung
To harken while our skipper's tongue
Rehearsed a tale of old.

In rugged lines that vainly strive to reach the northern side,
The shell-grown ledges rear their heads above the ebbing tide.
There blackfish haunt, and sea-bass love the salty flow that drones
Among the clefts -- but sailors shun the Devil's Stepping-stones.

Long, long before the white man came, Pequot traditions tell,
Habbamocko, the Evil One, that spirit wild and fell,
Strode forth through fair Connecticut, and, casting flame around,
Waged war to gain the fertile vales that skirt the northern Sound.

Twelve days the demon strove with men, while all the sky was red
With blazing shaft and hurtling brand; and then the tyrant fled,
Still battling, east along the strand in hissing foam and spray
To yonder jutting spit of land that pierces Pelham Bay.

Here, harassed by a hundred foes, the baffled fiend forbore;
Across the wave-worn Stepping-stones he reached Long Island's shore.

In that far time no boulders rude bespread the fertile main,
But through the island shattered crags were thick on hill and plain.
At Cold Spring Bay the vengeful fiend heaped high a lofty pile
Of all the gathered bones of earth that strewed the sandy isle.

Loud laughed the fierce Habbamocko as laughs the angry gale!
Across the Sound with mighty arm he hurled the craggy hail.
On shore and hill the heavy stones were flung with crashing din
To load with sterile bonds the land his prowess failed to win.

And since that day of flaming shocks
And fierce, infernal revel,
Connecticut has all the rocks --
Long Island keeps the Devil.





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