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The Gloucester Mother

Sarah Orne Jewett

WHEN Autumn winds are high
They wake and trouble me,
With thoughts of people lost
A-coming on the coast,
And all the ships at sea.

How dark, how dark and cold,
And fearful in the waves,
Are tired folk who lie not still
And quiet in their graves: --
In moving waters deep,
That will not let men sleep
As they may sleep on any hill;
May sleep ashore till time is old,
And all the earth is frosty cold. --
Under the flowers a thousand springs
They sleep and dream of many things.

God bless them all who die at sea!
If they must sleep in restless waves,
God make them dream they are ashore,
With grass above their graves.


NOTES

"The Gloucester Mother" appeared in McClure's magazine (31:702) in October 1908. This text is from that printing. The poem also appeared in the New York Times Saturday Review of Books, October 17, 1908, p. 1, with slight textual variations. This text appears below.
     Below are two graphic representations of the text and a copy of another version.
     The first graphic is framed with a decoration by Wladyslaw T. Benda (1873-1948). Born in Poznan, Poland, Benda was educated at Krakow and Vienna before moving to New York in 1900, where he was best known as an illustrator for magazines and books and as a designer, though he also painted. He may be best remembered now as the illustrator of the first edition of Willa Cather's My Ántonia (1918).
     The second graphic is a signed copy in Jewett's handwriting as it appeared in Annie Fields, editor, Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett, 1911, p. 91. This copy has several punctuation differences from the other texts presented here.
     The poem was reprinted in Jewett's posthumous Verses (1916). After the graphic representations is the text from Verses, in which most end-of-line punctuation and one word [ hills for hill ] are changed.

On the Gloucester fishing fleet.

At http://www.downtosea.com is the "Out of Gloucester" web site, which contains extensive information on the history of the Gloucester, Massachusetts fishing industry.  Perhaps of special interest are the notices of disasters in which some of the lost were named Jewett, though I am not aware of whether or how well Sarah Orne Jewett knew any of these people.  The following three disasters resulted in the deaths of Jewetts:
The B. K. Hough in 1871 (www.downtosea.com/1851-1875/bkhough.htm),
The Franklin Snow in 1872 (/1851-1875/franklin.htm),
The Henrietta Greenleaf in 1876 (/1876-1900/hgrnlaf.htm).


From Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett


New York Times Saturday Review of Books Text

THE GLOUCESTER MOTHER.

By SARAH ORNE JEWETT.

WHEN Autumn winds are high
    They wake and trouble me,
    With thoughts of people lost
A-coming on the coast,
And all the ships at sea.

How dark, how dark and cold,
And fearful in the waves,
Are tired folk who lie not still
And quiet in their graves;
In moving waters deep
That will not let men sleep
As they may sleep on any hill;
May sleep ashore till time is old,
And all the earth is frosty cold.
Under the flowers a thousand springs
They sleep and dream of many things.

God bless them all who die at sea!
If they must sleep in restless waves,
God make them dream they are ashore,
With grass above their graves.

    From McClure's Magazine for October.


Version from Verses, 1916

The Gloucester Mother

Sarah Orne Jewett

WHEN autumn winds are high,
They wake and trouble me
With thoughts of people lost
A-coming on the coast,
And all the ships at sea.

How dark, how dark and cold
And fearful in the waves,
Are tired folk who lie not still
And quiet in their graves
In moving waters deep
That will not let men sleep
As they may sleep on any hills,
May sleep ashore till time is old
And all the earth is frosty cold.
Under the flowers a thousand springs
They sleep and dream of many things.

God bless them all who die at sea!
If they must sleep in restless waves,
God make them dream they are ashore
With grass above their graves!



Edited & annotated by Terry Heller, Coe College.

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