Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1835–1860
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. VI–VIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 1835–1860
 
The Mayflower
By Erastus Wolcott Ellsworth (1822–1902)
 
[Born in South Windsor, Conn., 1822. Died in East Windsor Hill, Conn., 1902. Putnam’s Monthly Magazine. 1854.]

DOWN in the bleak December bay
The ghostly vessel stands away;
Her spars and halyards white with ice,
Under the dark December skies.
A hundred souls, in company,        5
Have left the vessel pensively—
Have touched the frosty desert there,
And touched it with the knees of prayer.
  And now the day begins to dip,
The night begins to lower        10
  Over the bay, and over the ship
      Mayflower.
 
Neither the desert nor the sea
Imposes rites; their prayers are free;
Danger and toil the wild imposes,        15
And thorns must grow before the roses.
And who are these?—and what distress
The savage-acred wilderness
On mother, maid, and child, may bring,
Beseems them for a fearful thing;        20
  For now the day begins to dip,
The night begins to lower
  Over the bay, and over the ship
      Mayflower.
 
But Carver leads (in heart and health        25
A hero of the commonwealth)
The axes that the camp requires,
To build the lodge, and heap the fires.
And Standish from his warlike store
Arrays his men along the shore—        30
Distributes weapons resonant,
And dons his harness militant;
  For now the day begins to dip,
The night begins to lower
  Over the bay, and over the ship        35
      Mayflower;
 
And Rose, his wife, unlocks a chest—
She sees a Book, in vellum drest,
She drops a tear and kisses the tome,
Thinking of England and of home:        40
Might they—the Pilgrims, there and then
Ordained to do the work of men—
Have seen, in visions of the air,
While pillowed on the breast of prayer
  (When now the day began to dip,        45
The night began to lower
  Over the bay, and over the ship
      Mayflower),
 
The Canaan of their wilderness
A boundless empire of success;        50
And seen the years of future nights
Jewelled with myriad household lights;
And seen the honey fill the hive;
And seen a thousand ships arrive;
And heard the wheels of travel go;        55
It would have cheered a thought of woe,
  When now the day began to dip,
The night began to lower
  Over the bay, and over the ship
      Mayflower.        60
 
 
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