The waves like ridges of plowed land are2 high,
Whereat the ship3 oft stumbling4 down doth lie.
But in a calm, level as meadows seem,5
And by6 its saltness makes it look as green.
When ships thereon a slow, soft pace do7 walk, 5
Then mariners, as shepherds, sing and talk.
Some whistle, and some on their pipes do play,
And thus with mirth they8 pass their time away.
And every mast is like a maypole high,
Round which they dance, though not so merrily 10
As shepherds do when they their lasses bring
Garlands to maypoles,9 tied with silken string.10
Instead of garlands, they hang on their mast11
Huge sails, and ropes to tie these12 garlands fast;13
Instead of lasses they do dance with Death, 15
And for their music they have Boreas’s breath;
Instead of wine and wassails, drink salt tears,
And for their meat they feed on nought but fears.
For flocks of sheep, great shoals of herrings swim;
The whales as ravenous wolves14 do feed on them. 20
As sportful kids skip over hillocks green,
So dancing dolphins on the waves are seen.
The porpoise, like their watchful dog, espies,
And gives them warning when great winds will rise.
Instead of barking, he his head doth15 show 25
Above the waters when they roughly16 flow,
And like as men in time of show’ring rain17
And wind do not in open fields remain,18
But quickly run for shelter to a tree,19
So ships at anchor lie upon the sea. 30
- Similizing the Sea to Meadows and Pastures, the Mariners to Shepherds, the Mast to a Maypole, the Fish to Beasts] The Sea Similized to Meadows and Pastures, the Mariners to Shepherds, the Mast to a May-pole, the Fish to Beasts. 1664; The Sea similized to Meadows and Pastures: the Mariners, to Shepherds: the Mast, to a May-Pole: the Fish, to Beasts. 1668
- are] lies 1653
- A marginal note in Cavendish’s 1653 text reads: “Here the ship is taken for a horse.” In 1664 and 1668 the note reads, “Here the ship is compared to a horse.”
- oft stumbling] doth stumble, 1653
- level as meadows seem,] the Sea’s like Meadows, seen 1664; The Sea’s, like Meadows, seen 1668
- And by] Level, 1664; Level; 1668
- do] they 1653
- And thus with mirth they] Thus merrily will 1653
- Garlands to maypoles,] Whereon are Garlands 1653
- silken string.] a Silk-string; 1664; a Silk string. 1668
- Instead of garlands, they hang on their mast] But on their Mast, instead of Garlands, hung 1653
- these] those 1653
- fast;] on. 1653
- The whales as ravenous wolves] As ravenous Wolves the Whales 1653
- doth] will 1653
- when they roughly] where they rough do 1653
- And like as men in time of show’ring rain] When showring Raines power downe, and Windes do blow: 1653. Note that while in 1653 this line serves as the final line in a triplet, rhyming with the two lines above it, in 1664 and 1668 it serves as the first half of a couplet. We follow the 1664 and 1668 editions here, which means that the next line in our edition does not have an equivalent in 1653.
- And wind do not in open fields remain,] [no equivalent line in 1653]
- But quickly run for shelter to a tree,] Then fast Men run for shelter to a Tree; 1653