Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  Columbus and the Mayflower

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

Introductory to America

Columbus and the Mayflower

By Richard Monckton Milnes, Lord Houghton (1809–1885)

O LITTLE fleet! that on thy quest divine

Sailedst from Palos one bright autumn morn,

Say, has old Ocean’s bosom ever borne

A freight of faith and hope to match with thine?

Say, too, has Heaven’s high favor given again

Such consummation of desire as shone

About Columbus when he rested on

The new-found world and married it to Spain?

Answer,—thou refuge of the freeman’s need,—

Thou for whose destinies no kings looked out,

Nor sages to resolve some mighty doubt,—

Thou simple Mayflower of the salt-sea mead!

When thou wert wafted to that distant shore,

Gay flowers, bright birds, rich odors met thee not;

Stern Nature hailed thee to a sterner lot,—

God gave free earth and air, and gave no more.

Thus to men cast in that heroic mould

Came empire such as Spaniard never knew,

Such empire as beseems the just and true;

And at the last, almost unsought, came gold.

But He who rules both calm and stormy days

Can guard that people’s heart, that nation’s health,

Safe on the perilous heights of power and wealth,

As in the straitness of the ancient ways.