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 Moorings
By William Wallace Harney (1831–1912)
 
[Born in Bloomington, Ind., 1831. Died in Jacksonville, Fla., 1912.]

IN A SOUTHERN HARBOR.

MOORED out in the bay,
And slowly under her keel
The long wave seems to feel—
To crawl and feel its way,
Lest her timbers rip        5
The smooth photogeny
Of the picture of the ship
In the hollow of the sea.
 
Only twice a day
The short tide comes and goes,        10
Crunching under her toes,
In and out of the bay,
Muttering and coughing;
And, lazily enough,
Around her in the offing        15
The sun and shadows luff.
 
Around the great white ships,
The burly tugs and ferries,
The fishing smacks and wherries,
And the thirsty sandy slips.        20
She sees their shadows clear,
By one and two and three,
Appear and disappear
In the hollow of the sea.
 
Shall she never salt her        25
Timbers in old traffic,
Down the coast of Afric,
Sailing from Gibraltar,
Round by Mozambique?
Shall she never speak        30
Sampan rafts afloat,
The lean-toothed sloop of war,
Or, home-bound, the pilot-boat,
At the break of the harbor bar?
 
Or, when the scuds of clouds        35
Blacken the night with rain,
Feel her canvas strain
From truck to futtock shrouds,
To run the sharp blockade,
With the Federal gun-boats at her,        40
Bursting a cannonade
In the hiss of the driving water?
 
Never: the stir is over
Of war and tempest and gain;
No more will the quickening strain        45
Start in the old sea-rover
To the crack of the cannons’ snapping,
The shouts of the men, the souse
Of the salt brine barking and flapping
And poppling under her bows.        50
 
Never: her rotten brails
Sag down from the yard;
The mildew is in her sails;
The shell-fish crusts a shard
Over her copper legging;        55
And, limed in the ooze, she waits,
Like Belisarius begging
At the conquered city’s gates.
 
 
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