Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
The Captain
By John G. C. Brainard (1796–1828)
A Fragment.

SOLEMN 1 he paced upon that schooner’s deck,
And mutter’d of his hardships:—“I have been
Where the wild will of Mississippi’s tide
Has dash’d me on the sawyer;—I have sail’d
In the thick night, along the wave-wash’d edge        5
Of ice, in acres, by the pitiless coast
Of Labrador; and I have scraped my keel
O’er coral rocks in Madagascar seas—
And often in my cold and midnight watch,
Have heard the warning voice of the lee shore        10
Speaking in breakers! Ay, and I have seen
The whale and sword-fish fight beneath my bows;
And when they made the deep boil like a pot,
Have swung into its vortex; and I know
To cord my vessel with a sailor’s skill,        15
And brave such dangers with a sailor’s heart;
—But never yet upon the stormy wave,
Or where the river mixes with the main,
Or in the chafing anchorage of the bay,
In all my rough experience of harm,        20
Met I—a Methodist meeting-house!
*      *      *      *
Cat-head, or beam, or davit has it none,
Starboard nor larboard, gunwale, stem nor stern!
It comes in such a “questionable shape,”
I cannot even speak it! Up jib, Josey,        25
And make for Bridgeport! There, where Stratford Point,
Long Beach, Fairweather Island, and the buoy,
Are safe from such encounters, we ’ll protest!
And Yankee legends long shall tell the tale,
That once a Charleston schooner was beset,        30
Riding at anchor, by a Meeting-House.
Note 1. The Bridgeport paper of March, 1823, said; “Arrived, schooner Fame, from Charleston, via New London. While at anchor in that harbor, during the rain storm on Thursday evening last, the Fame was run foul of by the wreck of the Methodist Meeting-House from Norwich, which was carried away in the late freshet.” [back]

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