Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  The Wreck of the Ancient Coaster

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

Middle States: Hudson, the River, N. Y.

The Wreck of the Ancient Coaster

By Fitz-Greene Halleck (1790–1867)


HER side is in the water,

Her keel is in the sand,

And her bowsprit rests on the low gray rock

That bounds the sea and land.

Her deck is without a mast,

And sand and shells are there,

And the teeth of decay are gnawing her planks,

In the sun and the sultry air.

No more on the river’s bosom,

When sky and wave are calm,

And the clouds are in summer quietness,

And the cool night-breath is balm,

Will she glide in the swan-like stillness

Of the moon in the blue above,

A messenger from other lands,

A beacon to hope and love.

No more, in the midnight tempest,

Will she mock the mounting sea,

Strong in her oaken timbers,

And her white sail’s bravery.

She hath borne, in days departed,

Warm hearts upon her deck;

Those hearts, like her, are mouldering now,

The victims, and the wreck

Of time, whose touch erases

Each vestige of all we love;

The wanderers, home returning,

Who gazed that deck above,

And they who stood to welcome

Their loved ones on that shore,

Are gone, and the place that knew them

Shall know them nevermore.