Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
The Pilot of Hatteras
By Philip Freneau (1752–1832)
From the Freeman’s Journal, or the North American Intelligencer—December 9, 1789

IN fathoms four, the anchor gone,
While here we furl the sail,
No longer vainly lab’ring on
  Against the western gale;
Whilst here thy bare and barren cliffs,        5
  O Hatteras, I survey,
And shallow grounds and broken reefs,
  What shall provoke my lay?
The Pilot comes—from yonder sands
He shoves his bark so frail,        10
And, hurrying on, with busy hands,
  Employs both oar and sail.
Beneath his own unsettled sky
  Content to pass his years,
No other shores delight his eye,        15
  No prowling foe he fears.
For nature here, to make him blest,
  No quiet harbour plann’d,
And penury his constant guest,
  Restrains the pirate band:        20
His hopes are all in yonder flock,
  And some few hives of bees,
Except when bound for Ocracock
  The gliding barque he sees.
His Marian then he leaves with grief,        25
  And spreads his tottering sails,
While waving high her handkerchief,
  Her commodore she hails—
She grieves and fears to see no more
  The sail that now forsakes,        30
From Hatteras’ sands to banks of Core
  Such tedious journeys makes.
Sad nymph, thy sighs are half in vain,
  Restrain those idle fears—
Can you, that should relieve his pain,        35
  Thus kill him with your tears?
Can absence thus beget regard,
  Or does it only seem?—
He comes to see a wandering bard
  That aims for Ashley’s stream.        40
Till eastern gales once more awake
  No danger shall be near;
On yonder shoals the billows break,
  But leave us quiet here—
With gills of rum, and pints of gin,        45
  Again your lad shall land,
And drink—till he and all his kin
  Can neither sit nor stand.

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