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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Bliss Carman 1861–1929

A More Ancient Mariner


THE SWARTHY bee is a buccaneer,

A burly velveted rover,

Who loves the booming wind in his ear

As he sails the seas of clover.

A waif of the goblin pirate crew,

With not a soul to deplore him,

He steers for the open verge of blue

With the filmy world before him.

His flimsy sails abroad on the wind

Are shivered with fairy thunder;

On a line that sings to the light of his wings

He makes for the lands of wonder.

He harries the ports of the Hollyhocks,

And levies on poor Sweetbrier;

He drinks the whitest wine of Phlox,

And the Rose is his desire.

He hangs in the Willows a night and a day;

He rifles the Buckwheat patches;

Then battens his store of pelf galore

Under the tautest hatches.

He woos the Poppy and weds the Peach,

Inveigles Daffodilly,

And then like a tramp abandons each

For the gorgeous Canada Lily.

There ’s not a soul in the garden world

But wishes the day were shorter,

When Mariner B. puts out to sea

With the wind in the proper quarter.

Or, so they say! But I have my doubts;

For the flowers are only human,

And the valor and gold of a vagrant bold

Were always dear to woman.

He dares to boast, along the coast,

The beauty of Highland Heather,—

How he and she, with night on the sea,

Lay out on the hills together.

He pilfers from every port of the wind,

From April to golden autumn;

But the thieving ways of his mortal days

Are those his mother taught him.

His morals are mixed, but his will is fixed;

He prospers after his kind,

And follows an instinct, compass-sure,

The philosophers call blind.

And that is why, when he comes to die,

He’ll have an easier sentence

Than some one I know who thinks just so,

And then leaves room for repentance.

He never could box the compass round;

He does n’t know port from starboard;

But he knows the gates of the Sundown Straits,

Where the choicest goods are harbored.

He never could see the Rule of Three,

But he knows a rule of thumb

Better than Euclid’s, better than yours,

Or the teachers’ yet to come.

He knows the smell of the hydromel

As if two and two were five;

And hides it away for a year and a day

In his own hexagonal hive.

Out in the day, hap-hazard, alone,

Booms the old vagrant hummer,

With only his whim to pilot him

Through the splendid vast of summer.

He steers and steers on the slant of the gale,

Like the fiend or Vanderdecken;

And there ’s never an unknown course to sail

But his crazy log can reckon.

He drones along with his rough sea-song

And the throat of a salty tar,

This devil-may-care, till he makes his lair

By the light of a yellow star.

He looks like a gentleman, lives like a lord,

And works like a Trojan hero;

Then loafs all winter upon his hoard,

With the mercury at zero.