Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

Southern States: Hatteras, the Cape, N. C.


By Philip Freneau (1752–1832)

IN fathoms five the anchor gone;

While here we furl the sail,

No longer vainly laboring on

Against the western gale:

While here thy bare and barren cliffs,

O Hatteras, I survey,

And shallow grounds and broken reefs,—

What shall console my stay!

The dangerous shoal, that breaks the wave

In columns to the sky;

The tempests black, that hourly rave,

Portend all danger nigh:

Sad are my dreams on ocean’s verge!

The Atlantic round me flows,

Upon whose ancient angry surge

No traveller finds repose!

The pilot comes!—from yonder sands

He shoves his bark, so frail,

And hurrying on, with busy hands,

Employs both oar and sail.

Beneath this rude unsettled sky

Condemned to pass his years,

No other shores delight his eye,

No foe alarms his fears.

In depths of woods his hut he builds,

Devoted to repose,

And, blooming, in the barren wilds

His little garden grows:

His wedded nymph, of sallow hue,

No mingled colors grace,—

For her he toils, to her is true,

The captive of her face.

Kind Nature here, to make him blest,

No quiet harbor planned;

And poverty—his constant guest—

Restrains the pirate band:

His hopes are all in yonder flock,

Or some few hives of bees,

Except, when bound for Ocracock,

Some gliding bark he sees.

His Catharine then he quits with grief,

And spreads his tottering sails,

While, waving high her handkerchief,

Her commodore she hails:

She grieves, and fears to see no more

The sail that now forsakes,

From Hatteras’ sands to banks of Core

Such tedious journeys takes!

Fond nymph! your sighs are heaved in vain;

Restrain those idle fears:

Can you, that should relieve his pain,

Thus kill him with your tears!

Can absence thus beget regard,

Or does it only seem?

He comes to meet a wandering bard

That steers for Ashley’s stream.

Though disappointed in his views,

Not joyless will we part;

Nor shall the God of mirth refuse

The balsam of the heart:

No niggard key shall lock up joy,—

I ’ll give him half my store,

Will he but half his skill employ

To guard us from your shore.

Should eastern gales once more awake,

No safety will be here:

Alack! I see the billows break,

Wild tempests hovering near:

Before the bellowing seas begin

Their conflict with the land,

Go, pilot, go,—your Catharine join,

That waits on yonder sand.