Shipwreck Poem: DRIFT-WOOD

Here’s a wrecker-themed poem culled from archives. Published in Auburn, New York’s Cayuga Chief  on August 23, 1853, it has everything you could ask for in a shipwreck poem–fireside stories, Thor, ravens and Vikings, yes… Vikings!


The fire in the hut of the wrecker

Gleams out, through the darkness of night,

From the hearth where the drift-wood upblazes,

And the children sit round in the light.


“Now, grandfather Eric, a story!”

The children all echo in glee;

“Tell the tale you once told of the Viking,

And the drift-wood he cast in the sea.”


“There was once, O my children, in Norway,

A Viking who loosed from the strand,

Bearing with him, in anger, the door-posts

Of the temple of Thor from the land.


“And when he lost sight of the mountains,

He threw out the posts on the sea,

And I said ‘I will follow this drift-wood,

Wherever its guiding shall be.’


“Thus on, day and night, sailed the Viking,

While his raven flew high on the mast;

Till one morn, on the far shore of Iceland

The door-posts upfloated at last.


“And there he again reared the pillars

Of the temple of Thorn on the strand,

And there, when in time came his people,

He long ruled in peace o’er the land.


“An thus in our manhood, my children,

We launch forth our hopes on life’s tide;

And follow them daringly onward,

How widely soe’er they may guide.


“And perchance they may lead us to honor,

Or perchance they may falsely invite

Where at last we lie stranded and shattered,

Like the drift-wood we sit by to-night.”

~M. E. H.

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Filed under Dissertation Digest, Shipwreck culture, Shipwreck Kitsch, Source of the Week

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