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

New England: New London, Conn.

The Captain

By John Gardiner Calkins Brainard (1795–1828)

  • The Bridgeport paper of March, 1828, said: “Arrived, schooner Fame, from Charleston, via New London. While at anchor in that harbor, during the rain-storm on Thursday evening last, the Fame was run foul of by the wreck of the Methodist Meeting-House from Norwich, which was carried away in the late freshet.”

  • SOLEMN he paced upon that schooner’s deck,

    And muttered of his hardships: “I have been

    Where the wild will of Mississippi’s tide

    Has dashed me on the sawyer; I have sailed

    In the thick night, along the wave-washed edge

    Of ice, in acres, by the pitiless coast

    Of Labrador; and I have scraped my keel

    O’er coral rocks in Madagascar seas,

    And often in my cold and midnight watch

    Have heard the warning voice of the lee shore

    Speaking in breakers! Ay, and I have seen

    The whale and sword-fish fight beneath my bows;

    And when they made the deep boil like a pot,

    Have swung into its vortex; and I know

    To cord my vessel with a sailor’s skill,

    And brave such dangers with a sailor’s heart:

    But never yet upon the stormy wave,

    Or where the river mixes with the main,

    Or in the chafing anchorage of the bay,

    In all my rough experience of harm,

    Met I—a Methodist meeting-house!


    Cat-head, or beam, or davit has it none,

    Starboard nor larboard, gunwale, stem nor stern!

    It comes in such a “questionable shape,”

    I cannot even speak it! Up jib, Josey,

    And make for Bridgeport! There, where Stratford Point,

    Long Beach, Fairweather Island, and the buoy,

    Are safe from such encounters, we ’ll protest!

    And Yankee legends long shall tell the tale.

    That once a Charleston schooner was beset,

    Riding at anchor, by a meeting-house.