1827
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Smack Race.

Connecticut Mirror (1 October 1827).

John G. C. Brainard


One Spenserian and eight lyric stanzas. John G. C. Brainard celebrates maritime life on the River Thames — which flows into the Long Island Sound a few miles south of New London Connecticut: "Away! the peak is trimly set, | The jib with schoot-horn duly wet, | The trembling helm is true, | One glass of grog, one signal gun, | Three cheers for luck and one for fun, | Which is the happier crew?" The poem, not signed, is dated "New-London, Sept. 26, 1827." Suffering from consumption, Brainard was forced to resign his editorial duties at the Connecticut Mirror in 1827.



Are they not beautiful! how light they float,
How gracefully they sit upon the wave!
The water buoys no surer, fleeter boat,
None that will Ocean's danger better brave.
Forget not too, that sea-wash'd barrens gave
A hardy race to man each brace and line,
Warm hearted and hard handed — all they crave
Is but to seek and search the boist'rous brine
Where Winters have no sun, and north lights dimly shine.

Thames! on thy smiling harbour now
How dips and bends each lively bow,
As pleas'd to wanton there.
And need they longer there to ride?
The time is come and fair the tide,
The wind is fresh and fair.

Away! the peak is trimly set,
The jib with schoot-horn duly wet,
The trembling helm is true,
One glass of grog, one signal gun,
Three cheers for luck and one for fun,
Which is the happier crew?

Over the broad, the blue, the clear,
The noble harbour, on they steer
By every well known spot.
In sailor's heart, in seabird's cry,
In pilot's thought, in poet's eye,
When are such scenes forgot.

I love them, for the porpoise plays
In all their bleach'd and pebbly bays
And every haunt explores.—
I love them, that the hardy breeze
Sweeps daily from the healthful seas
Blessing the happy shores.

———*———*———*———*———

Now tauter brace the labouring boom,
Bring the lee gunwale to the foam
And haul the bonnet flat.
They have the freshest of the breeze—
They have the widest of the seas—
"We'll beat 'em for all that."

See! the wild wind bears down the peak,
And shews its shear the gaboard streak,
Loose is the leeward shroud,
The helm a-weather, bears her round
That hard-sought, hard gain'd racing ground
So elegantly proud.

And now, good luck my honest hearts,
Well do you bear your dangerous parts
And well I wish you all.
I little know your terms of skill,
But you shall have, my right, good will,
Whatever chance befall.

Good wives on shore, good winds at sea,
Fishing enough where'er you be,
And very many bites.
Plenty of fish and children too,
Days well employed and not a few,
Of quiet happy nights.

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