Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. V. Nature
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume V. Nature.  1904.
III. The Seasons
The Pleasure-Boat
Richard Henry Dana, Sr. (1787–1879)
COME, hoist the sail, the fast let go!
  They’re seated side by side;
Wave chases wave in pleasant flow;
  The bay is fair and wide.
The ripples lightly tap the boat;        5
  Loose! Give her to the wind!
She shoots ahead; they’re all afloat;
  The strand is far behind.
No danger reach so fair a crew!
  Thou goddess of the foam,        10
I ’ll ever pay thee worship due,
  If thou wilt bring them home.
Fair ladies, fairer than the spray
  The prow is dashing wide,
Soft breezes take you on your way,        15
  Soft flow the blessèd tide.
O, might I like those breezes be,
  And touch that arching brow,
I ’d dwell forever on the sea
  Where ye are floating now.        20
The boat goes tilting on the waves;
  The waves go tilting by;
There dips the duck,—her back she laves;
  O’erhead the sea-gulls fly.
Now, like the gulls that dart for prey,        25
  The little vessel stoops;
Now, rising, shooting along her way,
  Like them, in easy swoops.
The sunlight falling on her sheet,
  It glitters like the drift,        30
Sparkling, in scorn of summer’s heat
  High up some mountain rift.
The winds are fresh; she ’s driving fast
  Upon the bending tide;
The crinkling sail, and crinkling mast,        35
  Go with her side by side.
Why dies the breeze away so soon?
  Why hangs the pennant down?
The sea is glass; the sun at noon.—
  Nay, lady, do not frown;        40
For, see, the wingèd fisher’s plume
  Is painted on the sea;
Below, a cheek of lovely bloom.
  Whose eyes look up to thee?
She smiles; thou need’st must smile on her:        45
  And see, beside her face,
A rich, white cloud that doth not stir:
  What beauty, and what grace!
And pictured beach of yellow sand,
  And peakèd rock and hill,        50
Change the smooth sea to fairy-land;
  How lovely and how still!
From that far isle the thresher’s flail
  Strikes close upon the ear;
The leaping fish, the swinging sail        55
  Of yonder sloop, sound near.
The parting sun sends out a glow
  Across the placid bay,
Touching with glory all the show.—
  A breeze! Up helm! Away!        60
Careening to the wind, they reach,
  With laugh and call, the shore.
They ’ve left their footprints on the beach,
  But them I hear no more.

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