Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Americas
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Americas: Vol. XXX.  1876–79.
 
British America: George’s Bank
On George’s Bank
C. W. Hall
 
TWO hundred miles to the south-southeast
On George’s the billows foam like yeast.
O’er shallow banks, where on every side
Lies peril of billow, shoal, and tide.
There, riding like sea-gulls with wings at rest,        5
Cape Ann’s swift schooners the sharp seas breast,
With their straining cables reaching down
Where the anchors clutch at the sea-sands brown.
 
There gather when shorten the wintry days
The fish of a thousand shallow bays.        10
There men of a score of races reap
Their dear-bought harvest, while billows sweep,
And drear fogs gather, and tempests blow
O’er the fatal sands which shift below
The ever-angry sea, which laves        15
A thousand wrecks and a myriad graves.
 
Yet merrily still they fish, nor reck
Of the piercing cold or the wave-swept deck;
And the warning fog-horn, the bell’s sad tone,
Wakens no thought of knell or moan        20
In those sturdy fishermen, brave and free,
As they mournfully challenge the fog-veiled sea,
Though there scarce is one but has shed a tear
For comrade or friend who has perished there.
As the veteran leaps to the battle-torn rank,        25
As the frigate steams in where her consort sank,
So when maidens are weeping, and widows are pale,
New vessels are manned for those lost in the gale.
The orphan fears not the restless wave
Which gave him food, and his sire a grave;        30
And the soulless veteran soundly sleeps,
Rocked by the rough sea which sullenly sweeps
O’er the bones of comrade, brother, and son,
Whose long, hard, perilous task is done.
 
If the coveted water, by David outpoured        35
As an offering purchased with blood, to the Lord,
Was too rare for a king, truly precious must be
The coarse fare these wring from the pitiless sea.
Unnoted, the fishermen live and die
Mid the ravening waves, while the pitiless sky        40
Shuts out e’en man’s pitying glance. As yet
No squadron in war’s fiercest tempest has met
Such remediless loss, and such utter defeat
As the men who ship in the “George’s Fleet.”
 
 
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