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Tent On The Beach: The Palatine
by [?]

Nor looks nor tones a doubt betray;
“It is known to us all,” they quietly say;
“We too have seen it in our day.”

Is there, then, no death for a word once spoken?
Was never a deed but left its token
Written on tables never broken?

Do the elements subtle reflections give?
Do pictures of all the ages live
On Nature’s infinite negative,

Which, half in sport, in malice half,
She shows at times, with shudder or laugh,
Phantom and shadow in photograph?

For still, on many a moonless night,
From Kingston Head and from Montauk light
The spectre kindles and burns in sight.

Now low and dim, now clear and higher,
Leaps up the terrible Ghost of Fire,
Then, slowly sinking, the flames expire.

And the wise Sound skippers, though skies be fine,
Reef their sails when they see the sign
Of the blazing wreck of the Palatine!

. . . . .

“A fitter tale to scream than sing,”
The Book-man said. “Well, fancy, then,”
The Reader answered, “on the wing
The sea-birds shriek it, not for men,
But in the ear of wave and breeze!”
The Traveller mused: “Your Manisees
Is fairy-land: off Narragansett shore
Who ever saw the isle or heard its name before?

“‘T is some strange land of Flyaway,
Whose dreamy shore the ship beguiles,
St. Brandan’s in its sea-mist gray,
Or sunset loom of Fortunate Isles!”
“No ghost, but solid turf and rock
Is the good island known as Block,”
The Reader said. “For beauty and for ease
I chose its Indian name, soft-flowing Manisees!

“But let it pass; here is a bit
Of unrhymed story, with a hint
Of the old preaching mood in it,
The sort of sidelong moral squint
Our friend objects to, which has grown,
I fear, a habit of my own.
‘Twas written when the Asian plague drew near,
And the land held its breath and paled with sudden fear.”