Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Crossing the Seas

Henry David Thoreau, Travelling:
If e'er our minds are ill at ease
It is in vain to cross the seas
Or when the fates do prove unkind
To leave our native land behind.
The ship becalmed at length stands still
The steed will rest beneath the hill.
But swiftly still our fortunes pace
To find us out in every place.
There is a longer version, with the first two lines omitted, in A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (Monday):
Though all the fates should prove unkind,
Leave not your native land behind.
The ship, becalmed, at length stands still;
The steed must rest beneath the hill;
But swiftly still our fortunes pace
To find us out in every place.

The vessel, though her masts be firm,
Beneath her copper bears a worm;
Around the cape, across the line,
Till fields of ice her course confine;
It matters not how smooth the breeze,
How shallow or how deep the seas,
Whether she bears Manilla twine,
Or in her hold Madeira wine,
Or China teas, or Spanish hides,
In port or quarantine she rides;
Far from New England's blustering shore,
New England's worm her hulk shall bore,
And sink her in the Indian seas,
Twine, wine, and hides, and China teas.
The germ of this idea appears in Horace, Epistles 1.11.27: "They who run across the sea get a change of sky but not of mind." (caelum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt.)

Related posts:

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?