Tales of the Chesapeake eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 252 pages of information about Tales of the Chesapeake.

1871.

OLD ST. MARY’S.

    This is the river.  Like Southampton water
    It enters broadly in the woody lands,
    As if to break a continent asunder,
    And sudden ceasing, lo! the city stands: 
    St. Mary’s—­stretching forth its yellow hands
    Of beach, beneath the bluff where it commands
    In vision only; for the fields are green
    Above the pilgrims.  Pleasant is the place;
    No ruin mars its immemorial face. 
    As young as in virginity renewed,
    Its widow’s sorrows gone without a trace,
    And tempting man to woo its solitude.

    The river loves it, and embraces still
    Its comely form with two small arms of bay,
    Whereon, of old, the Calvert’s pinnace lay,
    The Dove—­dear bird!—­the olive in its bill,
    That to the Ark returned from every gale
    And found a haven by this sheltering hill.[4]

    Lo! all composed, the soft horizons lie
    Afloat upon the blueness of the coves,
    And sometimes in the mirage does the sky
    Seem to continue the dependent groves,
    And draw in the canoe that careless roves
    Among the stars repeated round the bow. 
    Far off the larger sails go down the world,
    For nothing worldly sees St. Mary’s now;
    The ancient windmills all their sails have furled,
    The standards of the Lords of Baltimore,
    And they, the Lords, have passed to their repose;
    And nothing sounds upon the pebbly shore
    Except thy hidden bell, Saint Inigo’s.

[Footnote 4:  The Catholic settlers of Maryland had a ship called The Ark, and a pinnace called The Dove.]

    There in a wood the Jesuits’ chapel stands
    Amongst the gravestones, in secluded calm. 
    But, Sabbath days, the censer’s healing balm,
    The Crucified with His extended hands,
    And music of the masses, draw the fold
    Back to His worship, as in days of old.

    Upon a cape the priest’s house northward blinks,
    To see St. Mary’s Seminary guard
    The dead that sleep within the parish yard,
    In English faith—­the parish church that links
    The present with the perished, for its walls
    Are of the clay that was the capital’s,
    When halberdiers and musketeers kept ward,
    And armor sounded in the oaken halls.

    A fruity smell is in the school-house lane;
    The clover bees are sick with evening heats;
    A few old houses from the window pane
    Fling back the flame of sunset, and there beats
    The throb of oars from basking oyster fleets,
    And clangorous music of the oyster tongs,
    Plunged down in deep bivalvulous retreats,
    And sound of seine drawn home with negro songs.

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Project Gutenberg
Tales of the Chesapeake from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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