Verse > Anthologies > Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed. > The Book of New York Verse
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Hamilton Fish Armstrong, ed.  The Book of New York Verse.  1917.
 
The Fleet
By Chester Firkins
 
GAUNT rocks of death that darkly lay,
Unstirred by tide or river’s sway,
Against the glory of the day
  The ships of war were still.
Kindred in color to the wave,        5
Kindred in menace to the grave,
They floated, terrible and brave,
  Beneath the peopled hill.
 
Immovable as forted isles—
Stern guns abristle from their piles—        10
The anchored squadron marked the miles
  From bay to city’s rim.
We gazed upon the steely chain—
The shackles of the mighty main—
Built, by our will, for human pain,        15
  And felt the grandeur grim.
 
But sudden fell the veil of night,
And sudden to the wondering sight,
From far-thronged wave, and wall and height,
  We saw the splendor glow.        20
Phantasmal as a magic dream,
The bosom of the hidden stream
Burst, beautiful, into the gleam
  Of lights, long filed and low.
 
The floating citadels of death,        25
As by some mystic shibboleth,
Were fashioned, in the space of breath,
  Into a fairy scene.
The things that men had made to kill
Stood glorified and sweet and still,        30
While music reached the shoreward hill
  From out the dream-demesne.
 
But yet again the dawn came, cold.
The deep guns, by their thunder, told
Their power, where the echoes rolled        35
  Against the rocky shore.
And out upon the ocean grey,
Trim, terrible, in close array,
The dreamful, deathful ships away
  Went forth for Peace, or War.        40
 
 
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