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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889


By Elisabeth Cavazza

SHE wanders up and down the main

Without a master, nowhere bound;

The currents turn her round and round,

Her track is like a tangled skein;

And never helmsman by his chart

So strange a way as hers may steer

To enter port or to depart

For any harbor far or near.

The waters clamor at her sides,

The winds cry through her cordage torn,

The last sail hangs, to tatters worn;

Upon the waves the vessel rides

This way or that, as winds may shift,

In ghastly dance when airs blow balm,

Or held in a lethargic calm,

Or fury-hunted, wild, adrift.

When south winds blow, does she recall

Spices and golden fruits in store?

Or north winds—nets off Labrador

And icebergs’ iridescent wall?

Or east—the isles of Indian seas?

Or west—new ports and sails unfurled?

Her voyages all around the world

To mock her with old memories?

For her no light-house sheds a ray

Of crimson warning from its tower;

No watchers wait in hope the hour

To greet her coming up the bay;

No trumpet speaks her, hearty, hoarse—

Or if a captain hail at first,

He sees her for a thing accursed,

And turns his own ship from her course.

Alone, in desperate liberty

She forges on; and how she fares

No man alive inquires, or cares

Though she were sunk beneath the sea.

Her helm obeys no firm control,

She drifts—a prey for storms to take,

For sands to clutch, for rocks to break—

A ship condemned, like a lost soul.