Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
By Wilton Agnew Barrett
HUNG in the parlors of the town
    Are many pictures of tall ships,
    White-billowy to their pennon-tips,
And painted black or shining brown.
    And, seeing them, the wild thought slips        5
    Back to those wild and white sea-trips
When Round Pond shared the sea’s renown;
And all her captains sailed a fleet,
    Long-keeled and deep, around the Horn,
    Where Del Fuego lies forlorn        10
In cloudy rack or scudding sleet.
    On other seas of Capricorn
    Old voyagers knew their house-flags, borne
Where Indian and Pacific meet.
Strong oils and wool from Boston bar,        15
    Bright silks from busy blue Hong Kong—
    And many a little mellow gong
On the shore wind, cleared for Samar
    And all the isles of Orient song.
    Oh, how the wind-clipt sails would throng!        20
Great ships—who knows now where they are?
The captains leave their white-walled homes
    Built out of earnings from far lands,
    But not to take their old commands
Into the wind where water foams!        25
    The captains leave; to helmless hands
    Are fallen their houses on these sands;
Their old wives wither in the rooms.
Their children pause, with vision spent—
    Dear folk! they dabble, and put away        30
    The majesties of yesterday.
No vital pulse, no strong event,
    Sweeps in to break their life’s delay;
    The steam-boat lands, leaves them each day
Contented with their discontent.        35
Where is the blood that loved the sea!
    Though old sea-commerce be no more,
    Shall children of the sea on shore
Sink dull with careless industry?
    Those painted ships bold purpose bore,        40
    And what great glorious sails they wore—
Pictures that shame posterity!

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