Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > America
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX.  1876–79.
 
Introductory to America
The Voyage to Vinland
James Russell Lowell (1819–1891)
 
*        *        *        *        *
FOUR weeks they sailed, a speck in sky-shut seas,
Life, where was never life that knew itself,
But tumbled, lubber-like, in blowing whales;
Thought, where the like had never been before
Since Thought primeval brooded the abyss;        5
Alone as men were never in the world.
They saw the icy foundlings of the sea,
White cliffs of silence, beautiful by day,
Or looming, sudden-perilous, at night
In monstrous hush; or sometimes in the dark        10
The waves broke ominous with paly gleams
Crushed by the prow in sparkles of cold fire.
Then came green stripes of sea that promised land
But brought it not, and on the thirtieth day
Low in the West were wooded shores like cloud.        15
They shouted as men shout with sudden hope;
But Biörn was silent, such strange loss there is
Between the dream’s fulfilment and the dream,
Such sad abatement in the goal attained.
Then Gudrida, that was a prophetess,        20
Rapt with strange influence from Atlantis, sang:
Her words: the vision was the dreaming shore’s.
 
            Looms there the New Land:
            Locked in the shadow
            Long the gods shut it,        25
            Niggards of newness
            They, the o’er-old.
 
            Little it looks there,
            Slim as a cloud-streak;
            It shall fold peoples        30
            Even as a shepherd
            Foldeth his flock.
 
            Silent it sleeps now;
            Great ships shall seek it,
            Swarming as salmon;        35
            Noise of its numbers
            Two seas shall hear.
 
            Man from the Northland,
            Man from the Southland,
            Haste empty-handed;        40
            No more than manhood
            Bring they, and hands.
 
            Dark hair and fair hair,
            Red blood and blue blood,
            There shall be mingled;        45
            Force of the ferment
            Makes the New Man.
 
            Pick of all kindreds,
            King’s blood shall theirs be,
            Shoots of the eldest        50
            Stock upon Midgard,
            Sons of the poor.
 
            Them waits the New Land;
            They shall subdue it,
            Leaving their sons’ sons        55
            Space for the body,
            Space for the soul.
*        *        *        *        *
 
 
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