Ballads of Lost Haven: A Book of the Sea

by Bliss Carman


 

THE NANCY'S PRIDE


 

ON the long slow heave of a lazy sea,
To the flap of an idle sail,
The Nancy’s Pride went out on the tide;
And the skipper stood by the rail.

All down, all down by the sleepy town,

5

With the hollyhocks a-row
In the little poppy gardens,
The sea had her in tow.

They let her slip by the breathing rip,
Where the bell is never still,

10

And over the sounding harbor bar,
And under the harbor hill.

She melted into the dreaming noon,
Out of the drowsy land,
In sight of a flag of goldy hair,

15

To the kiss of a girlish hand.

For the lass who hailed the lad who sailed,
Was—who but his April bride?
And of all the fleet of Grand Latite,
Her pride was the Nancy’s Pride.

20


So the little vessel faded down
With her creaking boom a-swing,
Till a wind from the deep came up with a creep,
And caught her wing and wing.

She made for the lost horizon line,

25

Where the clouds a-castled lay,
While the boil and seethe of the open sea
Hung on her frothing way.

She lifted her hull like a breasting gull
Where the rolling valleys be,

30

And dipped where the shining porpoises
Put ploughshares through the seas.

A fading sail on the far sea-line,
About the turn of the tide,
As she made for the Banks on her maiden cruise,

35

Was the last of the Nancy’s Pride.

To-day a boy with goldy hair,
In a garden of Grand Latite,
From his mother’s knee looks out to sea
For the coming of the fleet.

40


They all may home on a sleepy tide,
To the flap of the idle sail;
But it’s never again the Nancy’s Pride
That answers a human hail.

They all may home on a sleepy tide

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To the sag of an idle sheet;
But it’s never again the Nancy’s Pride
That draws men down the street.

On the Banks to-night a fearsome sight
The fishermen behold,

50

Keeping the ghost watch in the moon
When the small hours are cold.

When the light wind veers, and the white fog clears,
They see by the after rail
An unknown schooner creeping up

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With mildewed spar and sail.

Her crew lean forth by the rotting shrouds,
With the Judgment in their face;
And to their mates’ "God save you!"
Have never a word of grace.

60

Then into the gray they sheer away,
On the awful polar tide;
And the sailors know they have seen the wraith
Of the missing Nancy’s Pride.