Friday, March 19, 2010

Poetry Friday: Ferry Boats, Apples, Pears, Puget Sound etc.

 Ferry Boat on Puget Sound (taken by Wm. Doran)

We were very tired, we were very merry­
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable­
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.

We were very tired, we were very merry­
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

We were very tired, we were very merry,
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed, "Good morrow, mother!" to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, "God bless you!" for the apples and pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.

                                                           - Edna St. Vincent Millay

If I ever move away from Seattle, I'll have to move somewhere with ferry boats. How can people live without them? I suppose if you don't have them, don't ride them, don't see them slide slowly across the saltwater and into the dock, don't know how powerfully the motors rev underneath your feet as they pull out onto the water again, don't know what that cold air feels likes on your face when you're standing out on the bow, you wouldn't miss them. But I would. The poem above, by Edna St. Vincent Millay, opens so perfectly that I sometimes (like today) find the lines running through my mind for no reason whatsoever. And since Millay is undoubtedly talking about the Staten Island Ferry, I'll add in a photo of one of those beauties, sailing past the Statue of Liberty over and over without so much as sputtering, as if that lady were just a woman waiting for a bus. I love New York, and I love Seattle, and I love ferry boats.

The Poetry Friday round-up is over at SOME NOVEL IDEAS today. Head over there to see links to what bloggers are sharing.


  1. Oh, the romance of ferry boats! Wonderful poem. :)

  2. Hi Julie,

    There is a very lovely rhythm to riding on a ferry.

    Laura Evans

  3. I love boats of all kinds...wish I lived somewhere you could get around by ferry!

    I love the mood and details of this. Almost makes me feel like I actually experienced all these details myself.

    Fav lines:
    We lay on a hill-top underneath the moon;


    And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

    and of course that terrific ending.

    Yum! Thanks for the treat.

  4. That sounds like a wonderful day -- and giving all your money away at the end, except the means to get home -- a perfect ending.

    I love ferries. I miss being near one -- although it's not like they aren't here! Just not as close to me, although I can take a ferry to Belfast, should the mood take me. (It won't.)

  5. Thanks to all of you, ferry-boat friends! Laura, my favorite line is "And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold..." I just love the alliteration, and the three stressed syllables in a row in each phrase - SKY WENT WAN....WIND CAME COLD...such nice control of the sound elements!

  6. Thanks again for the link.
    I hope you enjoyed all my posts.


  7. I too love ferry travels. Whenever I'm on a vacation, I book a ferry and make a short trip to the continent. My favourite destination is France and I've visited all the beautifull places over there by crossing the Channel with ferries france. I feel ferry travels are quite enthralling as well as relaxing and my holiday starts as soon as I board a ferry, much before I reach my destination.

  8. I think the posting by "ferries" might be commercial, but I decided to post the comment anyway, just because the idea of crossing the channel on a ferry (I've only done it via the Chunnel and high speed train) sounds glorious. Here's a non-commerical site of photos to whet your appetite for ferry travel to "the Continent: (and even the sound of that is delightful..."the Continent" - I want to put on a long gown like Ginger Rogers and dance around with Fred Astaire....)