My Ship at Sea

O SAILOR, have you spoken her, and on what distant sea,
The ship, so long expected, that is coming home to me?
When shall I mark the sun and wave break into sparkling spray,
As, laden with my ventures, she comes sailing up the bay ?
O sailor, if you have not hailed my ship by sea or shore,
Some word, mayhap, you bring of her, unheard by me before ;
For fairer far than all the fleets of India or Cathay
Is the craft that flies my colors, and that cruises far away!
Not Count Arnaklos’ shining prow, that sailed with satin sails ;
Not Cleopatra’s burnished barge, wooed by the lovesick gales ;
Nor that famed ship of old which bore the Argonauts from Greece,
By Orphean strains accompanied, to win the Golden Fleece, —
Great Cmsar and his fortunes not that classic bark which bore,
Nor that in which Oueen Dido saw zEneas quit the shore;
Nor that wherein, as Horace sings, one half his soul was penned,
Because among her passengers embarked his dearest friend, —
Not those proud galleons of Spain whose bulging hulls we know
Brought tribute to her conquering Crown the wealth of Mexico,
And rivalled all romance of the Old World in the New,
When Pizarro blazed upon her with the plunder of Peru,—
Not that sea-ranger bold whose fame will nevermore be hid,
Whilst ’tween decks sailor-yarns are spun of Captain Robert Kidd,
Nor those which even now excite the merchantman’s grim fears
As o’er the Spanish Main he roves, where roved the buccaneers, —
Not that immortal vessel whose memory is as sweet
As was the blessed name she bore when first the Pilgrims’ feet
In pious faith and holy zeal her narrow deckways trod,
Self-consecrate to liberty, to justice, and to God,—
Not all the storied stately helms of history or ot song,
Not all whose war-set pennants gleam the martial waves along,
Not all the ships, in sooth, that sail, or ever sailed, the sea,—
Are half so fair as that which bears my signals floating free !
From truck to keelson, fore and aft from shapely stem to stern,
The sea reflects no line of hers my heart does not return ;
And all my fondest hopes and prayers encircle her around,
As Xerxes’ palm on every branch with chains of gold was bound.
More dear to me than silken bales, or wealth of Eastern zones,
Frankincense, myrrh, and ivory, rich gums and precious stones,
She carries for her cargo my life’s uncounted years,
With all their hidden mysteries of future smiles and tears.
O speed her, every prospering gale, and every subject sea!
Those solemn stars by whom she steers, O guide her course to me !
For what care I for all the fleets of India or Cathay,
If the ship that bears my fortunes shall cruise so far away ?