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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Americas: Vol. XXX. 1876–79.

British America: George’s Bank

On George’s Bank

By C. W. Hall

TWO hundred miles to the south-southeast

On George’s the billows foam like yeast.

O’er shallow banks, where on every side

Lies peril of billow, shoal, and tide.

There, riding like sea-gulls with wings at rest,

Cape Ann’s swift schooners the sharp seas breast,

With their straining cables reaching down

Where the anchors clutch at the sea-sands brown.

There gather when shorten the wintry days

The fish of a thousand shallow bays.

There men of a score of races reap

Their dear-bought harvest, while billows sweep,

And drear fogs gather, and tempests blow

O’er the fatal sands which shift below

The ever-angry sea, which laves

A thousand wrecks and a myriad graves.

Yet merrily still they fish, nor reck

Of the piercing cold or the wave-swept deck;

And the warning fog-horn, the bell’s sad tone,

Wakens no thought of knell or moan

In those sturdy fishermen, brave and free,

As they mournfully challenge the fog-veiled sea,

Though there scarce is one but has shed a tear

For comrade or friend who has perished there.

As the veteran leaps to the battle-torn rank,

As the frigate steams in where her consort sank,

So when maidens are weeping, and widows are pale,

New vessels are manned for those lost in the gale.

The orphan fears not the restless wave

Which gave him food, and his sire a grave;

And the soulless veteran soundly sleeps,

Rocked by the rough sea which sullenly sweeps

O’er the bones of comrade, brother, and son,

Whose long, hard, perilous task is done.

If the coveted water, by David outpoured

As an offering purchased with blood, to the Lord,

Was too rare for a king, truly precious must be

The coarse fare these wring from the pitiless sea.

Unnoted, the fishermen live and die

Mid the ravening waves, while the pitiless sky

Shuts out e’en man’s pitying glance. As yet

No squadron in war’s fiercest tempest has met

Such remediless loss, and such utter defeat

As the men who ship in the “George’s Fleet.”