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First Landing of the Pilgrims, excerpt

by Robert Southey

Days pass, winds veer, and favoring skies
Change like the face of fortune; storms arise;
Safely, but not within her port desired,
The good ship lies.
Where the long sandy Cape
Bends and embraces round,
As with a lover’s arm, the sheltered sea,
A haven she hath found
From adverse gales and boisterous billows free.

Now strike your sails,
Ye toilworn mariners, and take your rest
Long as the fierce northwest
In that wild fit prevails,
Tossing the waves uptorn with frantic sway.
Keep ye within the bay,
Contented to delay
Your course till the elemental madness cease,
And heaven and ocean are again at peace.

How gladly there,
Sick of the uncomfortable ocean,
The impatient passengers approach the shore;
Escaping from the sense of endless motion,
To feel firm earth beneath their feet once more,
To breathe again the air
With taint of bilge and cordage undefiled,
And drink of living springs, if there they may,
And with fresh fruits and wholesome food repair
Their spirits, weary of the watery way.

And oh! how beautiful
The things of earth appear
To eyes that far and near
For many a week have seen
Only the circle of the restless sea!
With what a fresh delight
They gaze again on fields and forests green,
Hovel, or whatsoe’er
May bear the trace of man’s industrious hand;
How grateful to their sight
The shore of shelving sand,
As the light boat moves joyfully to land!

Woods they beheld, and huts, and piles of wood,
And many a trace of toil,
But not green fields or pastures. ’T was a land
Of pines and sand;
Dark pines, that from the loose and sparkling soil
Rose in their strength aspiring: far and wide
They sent their searching roots on every side,
And thus, by depth and long extension, found
Firm hold and grasp within that treacherous ground:
So had they risen and flourished; till the earth,
Unstable as its neighboring ocean there,
Like an unnatural mother, heaped around
Their trunks its wavy furrows white and high;
And stifled thus the living things it bore.
Half buried thus they stand,
Their summits sere and dry,
Marking, like monuments, the funeral mound;
As when the masts of some tall vessel show
Where, on the fatal shoals, the wreck lies whelmed below.