Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Americas
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Americas: Vol. XXX.  1876–79.
British America: St. Lawrence, the Gulf
The Gulf of St. Lawrence
Alfred Domett (1811–1887)
(From Ranolf and Amohia)

  ST. LAWRENCE! yes, I well remember
  Thy Gulf,—that morning in September.
  Fast flew our ship careering lightly
  Over the waters breaking brightly;
  Alongside close as if their aim        5
  Were but her vaunted speed to shame,
  Sleek porpoises like lightning went
  Cleaving the sunny element;
  Now where the black bows smote their way
How would they revel in the roaring spray!        10
  Like victors in the contest now
  Dash swift athwart the flying prow;
  Or springing forward three abreast
  Shoot slippery o’er each foamy crest,—
  Shoot upwards in an airy arc        15
  As three abreast they passed the bark:
  Pied petrels coursed about the sea
  And skimmed the billows dexterously;
Sank with each hollow, rose with every hill,
  So close, yet never touched them till        20
  They seized their prey with rapid bill:
  Afar, the cloudy spurts of spray
  Told that the grampus sported there
  With his ferocious mates at play.
  Meanwhile the breeze that freshly blew        25
  From every breaking wave-top drew
A plume of smoke that straightway from the sun
  The colors of the rainbow won,
  So that you saw, wherever turning,
  A thousand small volcanoes burning,        30
  Emitting vapors of each hue
  Of orange, purple, red, and blue.
  The sky meanwhile was all alive
  With snow-bright clouds that seemed to drive
  Swiftly, as though the heavens in glee        35
  Were racing with the racing sea;
  Each flitting sight and rushing sound
  Spread life and hope and joy around;
  Ship, birds and fishes, sky and ocean,
  All restless with one glad emotion!        40
But what a change! when suddenly we spy
  Apart from all that headlong revelry,—
Pencilled above the sky-line, like a spectre drear,
  A silent iceberg solemnly appear,—
  Pausing ghost-like our greeting to await.        45
    The crystal mountain, as we come anear
      And feel the airs that from it creep
      So chilling o’er the sunny deep,
    Discloses, while it slowly shifts,
    Now blue, faint-glistening, semi-lucent clifts,        50
  Now melancholy peaks, dead-white and desolate.
    But comes it not, this guest unbidden,
    This wanderer from a home far-hidden,
  Dim herald of the mysteries of the Pole,
With tidings from that cheerless region fraught,—        55
Comes it not o’er us like the sudden thought,
  The haunting phantom of a world apart,
    The blank and silent apparition
  That, ever prompt to gain serene admission,
    Lurks on the crowded confines of the heart,        60
    The many-pictured purlieus of the soul;
    Nay, sometimes thrusts its unexpected presence
    Upon our brightest-tinted hours of pleasaunce?
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