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

New England: Cape Cod, Mass.

First Landing of the Pilgrims

By Robert Southey (1774–1843)


DAYS pass, winds veer, and favoring skies

Change like the face of fortune; storms arise;

Safely, but not within her port desired,

The good ship lies.

Where the long sandy Cape

Bends and embraces round,

As with a lover’s arm, the sheltered sea,

A haven she hath found

From adverse gales and boisterous billows free.

Now strike your sails,

Ye toilworn mariners, and take your rest

Long as the fierce northwest

In that wild fit prevails,

Tossing the waves uptorn with frantic sway.

Keep ye within the bay,

Contented to delay

Your course till the elemental madness cease,

And heaven and ocean are again at peace.

How gladly there,

Sick of the uncomfortable ocean,

The impatient passengers approach the shore;

Escaping from the sense of endless motion,

To feel firm earth beneath their feet once more,

To breathe again the air

With taint of bilge and cordage undefiled,

And drink of living springs, if there they may,

And with fresh fruits and wholesome food repair

Their spirits, weary of the watery way.

And oh! how beautiful

The things of earth appear

To eyes that far and near

For many a week have seen

Only the circle of the restless sea!

With what a fresh delight

They gaze again on fields and forests green,

Hovel, or whatsoe’er

May bear the trace of man’s industrious hand;

How grateful to their sight

The shore of shelving sand,

As the light boat moves joyfully to land!

Woods they beheld, and huts, and piles of wood,

And many a trace of toil,

But not green fields or pastures. ’T was a land

Of pines and sand;

Dark pines, that from the loose and sparkling soil

Rose in their strength aspiring: far and wide

They sent their searching roots on every side,

And thus, by depth and long extension, found

Firm hold and grasp within that treacherous ground:

So had they risen and flourished; till the earth,

Unstable as its neighboring ocean there,

Like an unnatural mother, heaped around

Their trunks its wavy furrows white and high;

And stifled thus the living things it bore.

Half buried thus they stand,

Their summits sere and dry,

Marking, like monuments, the funeral mound;

As when the masts of some tall vessel show

Where, on the fatal shoals, the wreck lies whelmed below.