The Departure

In this roadstead I have ridden,
In this covert I have hidden;
Friendly thoughts were cliffs to me,
And I hid beneath their lea.

This true people took the stranger,
And warm-hearted housed the ranger;
They received their roving guest,
And have fed him with the best;

Whatsoe’er the land afforded
To the stranger’s wish accorded;
Shook the olive, stripped the vine,
And expressed the strengthening wine.

And by night they did spread o’er him
What by day they spread before him;—
That good-will which was repast
Was his covering at last.

The stranger moored him to their pier
Without anxiety or fear;
By day he walked the sloping land,
By night the gentle heavens he scanned.

When first his barque stood inland
To the coast of that far Finland,
Sweet-watered brooks came tumbling to the shore
The weary mariner to restore.

And still he stayed from day to day,
If he their kindness might repay;
⁠      But more and more
The sullen waves came rolling toward the shore.

And still the more the stranger waited,
The less his argosy was freighted,
And still the more he stayed,
The less his debt was paid.

So he unfurled his shrouded mast
To receive the fragrant blast;
And that same refreshing gale
Which had wooed him to remain
⁠           Again and again,
It was that filled his sail
⁠   ⁠And drove him to the main.

All day the low-hung clouds
 Dropt tears into the sea;
And the wind amid the shrouds
⁠        ⁠Sighed plaintively.

From Poems of Nature (The Bodley Head, 1895) by Henry David Thoreau. Copyright © 1895 by Henry David Thoreau. This poem is in the public domain. This poem is in the public domain.