Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  A Song of Nantucket

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

New England: Nantucket, Mass.

A Song of Nantucket

By E. Norman Gunnison (1836?–1880)

  • (Excerpt)
  • In the old whaling days, when a ship was homeward bound with a fair wind, it was a common saying among the men that the girls of Nantucket were pulling the rope to draw them home.

  • THE LAND breaks out, like a gleam of hope,

    Over the ocean foam,

    But its daughters no longer are pulling the rope

    That ’s bringing her sailors home.

    Her whalers lie rotting, and lone and drear,

    Far in some foreign port:

    They have laid there rusting for many a year,

    Of water and wind the sport.

    The decks are piled with the winter snows,

    The men are scattered,—ah me!

    No masthead echoes to “There she blows!”

    Far out in the Okhotsk Sea.

    But her hearts are as tried, and her men as true,

    As, when trimming the distant sail,

    They passed their lives on the waters blue,

    In hunting the Bow Head Whale.

    Her daughters are pure and sweet and fair,

    And cheerful and kind and good,

    And sparkling water and sparkling air

    Shine out in their changeful mood.