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East and West Poems   By: (1836-1902)

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Bret Harte.



A Greyport Legend A Newport Romance The Hawk's Nest In the Mission Garden The Old Major Explains "Seventy Nine" Truthful James's Answer to "Her Letter" Further Language from Truthful James The Wonderful Spring of San Joaquin On a Cone of the Big Trees A Sanitary Message The Copperhead On a Pen of Thomas Starr King Lone Mountain California's Greeting to Seward The Two Ships The Goddess Address The Lost Galleon The Second Review of the Grand Army


Before the Curtain The Stage Driver's Story Aspiring Miss de Laine California Madrigal St. Thomas Ballad of Mr. Cooke Legends of the Rhine Mrs. Judge Jenkins: Sequel to Maud Muller Avitor A White Pine Ballad Little Red Riding Hood The Ritualist A Moral Vindicator Songs without Sense

Part I.

East and West Poems.

A Greyport Legend.


They ran through the streets of the seaport town; They peered from the decks of the ships that lay: The cold sea fog that came whitening down Was never as cold or white as they. "Ho, Starbuck and Pinckney and Tenterden! Run for your shallops, gather your men, Scatter your boats on the lower bay."

Good cause for fear! In the thick midday The hulk that lay by the rotting pier, Filled with the children in happy play, Parted its moorings, and drifted clear, Drifted clear beyond the reach or call, Thirteen children they were in all, All adrift in the lower bay!

Said a hard faced skipper, "God help us all! She will not float till the turning tide!" Said his wife, "My darling will hear my call, Whether in sea or heaven she bide:" And she lifted a quavering voice and high, Wild and strange as a sea bird's cry, Till they shuddered and wondered at her side.

The fog drove down on each laboring crew, Veiled each from each and the sky and shore: There was not a sound but the breath they drew, And the lap of water and creak of oar; And they felt the breath of the downs, fresh blown O'er leagues of clover and cold gray stone, But not from the lips that had gone before.

They come no more. But they tell the tale, That, when fogs are thick on the harbor reef, The mackerel fishers shorten sail; For the signal they know will bring relief: For the voices of children, still at play In a phantom hulk that drifts alway Through channels whose waters never fail.

It is but a foolish shipman's tale, A theme for a poet's idle page; But still, when the mists of doubt prevail, And we lie becalmed by the shores of Age, We hear from the misty troubled shore The voice of the children gone before, Drawing the soul to its anchorage.

A Newport Romance.

They say that she died of a broken heart (I tell the tale as 'twas told to me); But her spirit lives, and her soul is part Of this sad old house by the sea.

Her lover was fickle and fine and French: It was nearly a hundred years ago When he sailed away from her arms poor wench With the Admiral Rochambeau.

I marvel much what periwigged phrase Won the heart of this sentimental Quaker, At what golden laced speech of those modish days She listened the mischief take her!

But she kept the posies of mignonette That he gave; and ever as their bloom failed And faded (though with her tears still wet) Her youth with their own exhaled.

Till one night, when the sea fog wrapped a shroud Round spar and spire and tarn and tree, Her soul went up on that lifted cloud From this sad old house by the sea.

And ever since then, when the clock strikes two, She walks unbidden from room to room, And the air is filled that she passes through With a subtle, sad perfume.

The delicate odor of mignonette, The ghost of a dead and gone bouquet, Is all that tells of her story; yet Could she think of a sweeter way?

I sit in the sad old house to night, Myself a ghost from a farther sea; And I trust that this Quaker woman might, In courtesy, visit me... Continue reading book >>

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