Ever, from the north-north-east,
The great winged canoes
Swept landward from the shining water
Into Bull’s Bay,
Where the poor Sewees trapped the otter,
Or took the giant oysters for their feast—
Ever the ships came from the north and east.
Surely, at morning, when they
walked the beaches,
Over the smoky-silver, whispering reaches,
Where the ships came from, loomed a land,
Far-off, one mountain-top, away
Where the great camp-fire sun made day:
“There are the pale-face lodges,” they would say.
So all one winter
Was great hunting on that shore;
Much maize was pounded,
And of acorn oil great store
And collops of smoked deer meat set aside,
And skins and furs,
And furs and skins,
And bales of furs beside.
And all that winter, too,
The smoke eddied
From many a huge canoe,
Hollowed by flame from cypress trees
That with stone ax and fire
The Sewee shaped to the good shape
Of his desire.
So when next spring
The traders came from Charles Town,
Bringing a gift of blankets from the king,
The Sewees would not trade a pelt—
Saying, “We go to see
The Great White Father in his own tepee—
Heap, heap much rum!”
And then they passed the pipe of peace,
And puffed it, and looked glum.
The traders thought the redskins must be daft;
They saw the huge canoes,
And, wondering at their use,
Asked, “What will you do with these?”
And the chief pointed east across the seas;
And then the pale-face laughed.
There was a story told
By one of Black Beard’s men
Who had done evil things for gold,
That one morning, out at sea,
The fog made a sudden lift,
And from the high poop, looking through the rift,
Twenty canoes, each with six warriors,
Paddling straight toward the rising sun,
Where the wind made a flaw—
He swore he saw
And counted twenty hulls,
Circled about by screaming gulls—
Then such a storm came down
That some prayed on that hellion ship,
But he did not—
He was not born to drown.
This was the tale Told with much bluster, Over ale And oaths, At Charles Town. He swore he saw the Indians in the dawn, And he’d be danged! And by Christ’s Mother— Take his rings in pawn! But he was hanged With poor Stede Bonnet, later on.
 See the note at the back of the book.
That evening, gathered on
the vessel’s poop,
They saw the glimmering land,
And far lights moved there,
As once Columbus saw them, winking, strange;
Around the ship two darkies in a small canoe
Paddled and grinned, and held up silver fish.