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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Germany: Vols. XVII–XVIII. 1876–79.


The Good Ship Valdemar

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)

(From The Musician’s Tale)

AT Stralsund, by the Baltic Sea,

Within the sandy bar,

At sunset of a summer’s day,

Ready for sea, at anchor lay

The good ship Valdemar.

The sunbeams danced upon the waves,

And played along her side;

And through the cabin windows streamed

In ripples of golden light, that seemed

The ripple of the tide.

There sat the captain with his friends,

Old skippers brown and hale,

Who smoked and grumbled o’er their grog,

And talked of iceberg and of fog,

Of calm and storm and gale.


The cabin windows have grown blank

As eyeballs of the dead;

No more the glancing sunbeams burn

On the gilt letters of the stern,

But on the figure-head;

On Valdemar victorious,

Who looketh with disdain

To see his image in the tide

Dismembered float from side to side,

And reunite again.

“It is the wind,” those skippers said,

“That swings the vessel so;

It is the wind; it freshens fast,

’T is time to say farewell at last,

’T is time for us to go.”

They shook the captain by the hand,

“Good luck! good luck!” they cried;

Each face was like the setting sun,

As, broad and red, they one by one

Went o’er the vessel’s side.

The sun went down, the full moon rose,

Serene o’er field and flood;

And all the winding creeks and bays

And broad sea-meadows seemed ablaze,

The sky was red as blood.

The southwest wind blew fresh and fair,

As fair as wind could be;

Bound for Odessa, o’er the bar,

With all sail set, the Valdemar

Went proudly out to sea.

The lovely moon climbs up the sky

As one who walks in dreams;

A tower of marble in her light,

A wall of black, a wall of white,

The stately vessel seems.

Low down upon the sandy coast

The lights begin to burn;

And now, uplifted high in air,

They kindle with a fiercer glare,

And now drop far astern.

The dawn appears, the land is gone,

The sea is all around;

Then on each hand low hills of sand

Emerge and form another land;

She steereth through the Sound.