Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
1236. Derelict
 
By Elisabeth (Cabazza) Pullen
 
 
SHE wanders up and down the main
  Without a master, nowhere bound;
  The currents turn her round and round,
Her track is like a tangled skein;
And never helmsman by his chart        5
  So strange a way as hers may steer
To enter port or to depart
  For any harbor far or near.
 
The waters clamor at her sides,
  The winds cry through her cordage torn,        10
  The last sail hangs, to tatters worn;
Upon the waves the vessel rides
This way or that, as winds may shift,
  In ghastly dance when airs blow balm,
  Or held in a lethargic calm,        15
Or fury-hunted, wild, adrift.
 
When south winds blow, does she recall
  Spices and golden fruits in store?
  Or north winds—nets off Labrador
And icebergs’ iridescent wall?        20
Or east—the isles of Indian seas?
  Or west—new ports and sails unfurled?
  Her voyages all around the world
To mock her with old memories?
 
For her no light-house sheds a ray        25
  Of crimson warning from its tower;
  No watchers wait in hope the hour
To greet her coming up the bay;
No trumpet speaks her, hearty, hoarse—
  Or if a captain hail at first,        30
  He sees her for a thing accursed,
And turns his own ship from her course.
 
Alone, in desperate liberty
  She forges on; and how she fares
  No man alive inquires, or cares        35
Though she were sunk beneath the sea.
Her helm obeys no firm control,
  She drifts—a prey for storms to take,
  For sands to clutch, for rocks to break—
A ship condemned, like a lost soul.        40
 

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