It's just poetry, it won't bite

Happy Birthday Bret Harte!

08.26.09 Posted in Birthdays, today's words by

Harte was born on August 25, 1836. His poetry and short stories made
him an icon of the American West, although he did work as a diplomat
and spent the last 24 years of his life in Europe, where he died at the
age of 64 of throat cancer. This poem reads beautifully! The metaphor
touches a chord in the reader, but the portrait he renders here is
perhaps even more resonant. Read this and visualize a solitary man
standing on the shore on a dreary day, the sand and rocks of Santa Cruz
Island painting him a backdrop, communing with his familiar, a sea
bird. And then let’s sing a verse or two in honor of the 173rd birthday
of Bret Harte!
To a Sea-Bird
(Santa Cruz, 1869)
By Bret Harte
(originally published in 1882; republished as Poems and Two Men of Sandy Bar. Houghton Mifflin, New York, NY: 1898.)

Sauntering hither on listless wings,
Careless vagabond of the sea,
Little thou heedest the surf that sings,
The bar that thunders, the shale that rings,–
Give me to keep thy company.

Little thou hast, old friend, that’s new;
Storms and wrecks are old things to thee;
Sick am I of these changes too;
Little to care for, little to rue,–
I on the shore, and thou on the sea.

All of thy wanderings, far and near,
Bring thee at last to shore and me;
All of my journeyings end them here:
This our tether must be our cheer,–
I on the shore, and thou on the sea.

Lazily rocking on ocean’s breast,
Something in common, old friend, have we:
Thou on the shingle seek’st thy nest,
I to the waters look for rest,–
I on the shore, and thou on the sea.

Comments are closed.

Latest Podcast Episode
vox poetica archives