Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Poem.

Enjoy this? Share it!

The Garrison Of Cape Ann
by [?]

FROM the hills of home forth looking, far beneath
the tent-like span
Of the sky, I see the white gleam of the headland
of Cape Ann.
Well I know its coves and beaches to the ebb-tide
glimmering down,
And the white-walled hamlet children of its ancient
fishing town.

Long has passed the summer morning, and its
memory waxes old,
When along yon breezy headlands with a pleasant
friend I strolled.
Ah! the autumn sun is shining, and the ocean
wind blows cool,
And the golden-rod and aster bloom around thy
grave, Rantoul!

With the memory of that morning by the summer
sea I blend
A wild and wondrous story, by the younger Mather
In that quaint Magnalia Christi, with all strange
and marvellous things,
Heaped up huge and undigested, like the chaos
Ovid sings.

Dear to me these far, faint glimpses of the dual
life of old,
Inward, grand with awe and reverence; outward,
mean and coarse and cold;
Gleams of mystic beauty playing over dull and
vulgar clay,
Golden-threaded fancies weaving in a web of
hodden gray.

The great eventful Present hides the Past; but
through the din
Of its loud life hints and echoes from the life
behind steal in;
And the lore of homeland fireside, and the legendary
Make the task of duty lighter which the true man
owes his time.

So, with something of the feeling which the Covenanter
When with pious chisel wandering Scotland’s
moorland graveyards through,
From the graves of old traditions I part the black-
Wipe the moss from off the headstones, and retouch
the faded lines.

Where the sea-waves back and forward, hoarse
with rolling pebbles, ran,
The garrison-house stood watching on the gray
rocks of Cape Ann;
On its windy site uplifting gabled roof and palisade,
And rough walls of unhewn timber with the moonlight

On his slow round walked the sentry, south and
eastward looking forth
O’er a rude and broken coast-line, white with
breakers stretching north,–
Wood and rock and gleaming sand-drift, jagged
capes, with bush and tree,
Leaning inland from the smiting of the wild and
gusty sea.

Before the deep-mouthed chimney, dimly lit by
dying brands,
Twenty soldiers sat and waited, with their muskets
in their hands;
On the rough-hewn oaken table the venison haunch
was shared,
And the pewter tankard circled slowly round from
beard to beard.

Long they sat and talked together,–talked of
wizards Satan-sold;
Of all ghostly sights and noises,–signs and wonders
Of the spectre-ship of Salem, with the dead men
in her shrouds,
Sailing sheer above the water, in the loom of morning

Of the marvellous valley hidden in the depths of
Gloucester woods,
Full of plants that love the summer,–blooms of
warmer latitudes;
Where the Arctic birch is braided by the tropic’s
flowery vines,
And the white magnolia-blossoms star the twilight
of the pines!

But their voices sank yet lower, sank to husky
tones of fear,
As they spake of present tokens of the powers of
evil near;
Of a spectral host, defying stroke of steel and aim
of gun;
Never yet was ball to slay them in the mould of
mortals run.

Thrice, with plumes and flowing scalp-locks, from
the midnight wood they came,–
Thrice around the block-house marching, met, unharmed,
its volleyed flame;
Then, with mocking laugh and gesture, sunk in
earth or lost in air,
All the ghostly wonder vanished, and the moonlit
sands lay bare.