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

Miscellaneous: The Ocean

The Water-Spout

By William Falconer (1732–1769)

(From The Shipwreck)

O’ER the smooth bosom of the faithless tides,

Propelled by flattering gales, the vessel glides:

Rodmond, exulting, felt the auspicious wind,

And by a mystic charm its aim confined.

The thoughts of home that o’er his fancy roll,

With trembling joy dilate Palemon’s soul;

Hope lifts his heart, before whose vivid ray

Distress recedes, and danger melts away.

Tall Ida’s summit now more distant grew,

And Jove’s high hill was rising to the view;

When on the larboard quarter they descry

A liquid column towering shoot on high;

The foaming base the angry whirlwinds sweep,

Where curling billows rouse the fearful deep:

Still round and round the fluid vortex flies,

Diffusing briny vapors o’er the skies.

This vast phenomenon, whose lofty head,

In heaven immersed, embracing clouds o’erspread,

In spiral motion first, as seamen deem,

Swells, when the raging whirlwind sweeps the stream.

The swift volution, and the enormous train,

Let sages versed in nature’s lore explain.

The horrid apparition still draws nigh,

And white with foam the whirling billows fly.

The guns were primed; the vessel northward veers,

Till her black battery on the column bears:

The nitre fired, and, while the dreadful sound

Convulsive shook the slumbering air around,

The watery volume, trembling to the sky,

Burst down, a dreadful deluge, from on high!

The expanding ocean trembled as it fell,

And felt with swift recoil her surges swell;

But soon, this transient undulation o’er,

The sea subsides, the whirlwinds rage no more.

While southward now the increasing breezes veer,

Dark clouds incumbent on their wings appear;

Ahead they see the consecrated grove

Of Cyprus, sacred once to Cretan Jove.

The ship beneath her lofty pressure reels,

And to the freshening gale still deeper heels.