Friday, August 12, 2011


Dismasted and adrift,
Longtime a thing forsaken;

Overwashed by every wave

Like the slumbering kraken;

Heedless if the billow roar,
Oblivious of the lull,
Leagues and leagues from shoal or shore,
It swims--a levelled hull:
Bulwarks gone--a shaven wreck,

Nameless and a grass-green deck.
A lumberman: perchance, in hold

Prostrate pines with hemlocks rolled.

It has drifted, waterlogged,

Till by trailing weeds beclogged:

Drifted, drifted, day by day,

Pilotless on pathless way.

It has drifted till each plank

Is oozy as the oyster-bank:
Drifted, drifted, night by night,

Craft that never shows a light;
Nor ever, to prevent worse knell,
Tolls in fog the warning bell.

From collision never shrinking,
Drive what may through darksome smother;
Saturate, but never sinking,

Fatal only to the other!
Deadlier than the sunken reef

Since still the snare it shifteth,
Torpid in dumb ambuscade
Waylayingly it drifteth.

-- Herman Melville
from The Aeolian Harp
image source is here