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April 16th, 2018

It's time for another voyage of Sea Poetry Monday:

A Passer-By, Robert Bridges

Whither, O splendid ship, thy white sails crowding,
    Leaning across the bosom of the urgent West,
That fearest nor sea rising, nor sky clouding,
    Whither away, fair rover, and what thy quest?
    Ah! soon, when Winter has all our vales opprest,
When skies are cold and misty, and hail is hurling,
    Wilt thoù glìde on the blue Pacific, or rest
In a summer haven asleep, thy white sails furling.

I there before thee, in the country that well thou knowest,
    Already arrived am inhaling the odorous air:
I watch thee enter unerringly where thou goest,
    And anchor queen of the strange shipping there,
    Thy sails for awnings spread, thy masts bare:
Nor is aught from the foaming reef to the snow-capp’d grandest
    Peak, that is over the feathery palms, more fair
Than thou, so upright, so stately and still thou standest.

And yet, O splendid ship, unhail’d and nameless,
    I know not if, aiming a fancy, I rightly divine
That thou hast a purpose joyful, a courage blameless,
    Thy port assured in a happier land than mine.
    But for all I have given thee, beauty enough is thine,
As thou, aslant with trim tackle and shrouding,
    From the proud nostril curve of a prow’s line
In the offing scatterest foam, thy white sails crowding.

Bridges was, among other things, a metrical innovator, Poet Laureate, and the editor of the first (posthumous) poetry collection of his friend Hopkins. I rarely connect emotionally with his poems (even when they aren't otherwise flawed), but there's several striking images in this one.


Subject quote from The Farthest Shore, Ursula K. Le Guin.

Originally posted at https://larryhammer.dreamwidth.org/674820.html (where it has comment count unavailable comments). You can comment here or there.