No skipper braves old Hudson now
Where Nyack’s Headlands frown,
And safely moored is every prow
Of drowsy Tarrytown;
Yet, clear as word of human lip,
The river sends its shores
The rhythmic rullock-clank and drip
Of even-rolling oars.
What rower plies a reckless oar
With mist on flood and strand?
That Oarsman toils forevermore
And ne’er shall reach the land.
* * * * *
Roystering, rollicking Ram van Dam,
Fond of a frolic and fond of a dram,
Fonder—yea, fonder, proclaims renown,—
Of Tryntje Bogardus of Tarrytown,
Leaves Spuyten Duyvil to roar his song!
Pull! For the current is sly and strong;
Nestles the robin and flies the bat.
Ho! for the frolic at Kakiat!
Merry, the sport at the quilting bee
Held at the farm on the Tappan Zee!
Jovial labor with quips and flings,
Dances with wonderful pigeon wings,
Twitter of maidens and clack of dames,
Honest flirtations and rousing games;
Platters of savory beef and brawn,
Buckets of treacle and good suppawn,
Oceans of cider, and beer in lakes,
Mountains of crullers and honey-cakes—
Such entertainment could never pall!
Rambout Van Dam took his fill of all;
Laughed with the wittiest, worked with a zest,
Danced with the prettiest, drank with the best.
Oh! that enjoyment should breed annoy!
Tryntje grew fickle or cold or coy;
Rambout, possessed of a jealous sprite,
Scowled like the sky on a stormy night,
Snarled a good-bye from his sullen throat,
Blustered away to his tugging boat.
After him hastened Jacobus Horn:
“Stay with us, Rambout, till Monday morn.
Soon in the east will the dawn be gray,
Rest from thy oars on the Sabbath Day.”
Angrily Rambout van Dam ripped back:
“Dunder en Blitzen! du Schobbejak!
Preach to thy children! and let them know
Spite of the duyvil and thee, I’ll row
Thousands of Sundays, if need there be,
Home o’er this ewig-vervlekte zee!”
Muttering curses, he headed south.
Jacob, astounded, with open mouth
Watched him receding, when—crash on crash
Volleyed the thunder! A hissing flash
Smote on the river! He looked again.
Rambout was gone from the sight of men!
* * * * *
Old Dunderberg with grumbling roar
Hath warned the fog to flee,
But still that never-wearied oar
Is heard on Tappan Zee.
A moon is closed on Hudson’s breast
And lanterns gem the town;
The phantom craft that may not rest
Plies ever, up and down,
’Neath skies of blue and skies of gray,
In spite of wind or tide,
Until the trump of Judgment Day—
A sound—and naught beside.