The Cross-Current

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The Cross-Current  (1922) 
by Abbie Farwell Brown
published in: Anthology of Massachusetts Poets (1922)

THROUGH twelve stout generations
New England blood I boast;
The stubborn pastures bred them,
The grim, uncordial coast,

Sedate and proud old cities,—
Loved well enough by me,
Then how should I be yearning
To scour the earth and sea.

Each of my Yankee forbears
Wed a New England mate:
They dwelt and did and died here,
Nor glimpsed a rosier fate.

My clan endured their kindred;
But foreigners they loathed,
And wandering folk, and minstrels,
And gypsies motley-clothed.

Then why do patches please me,
Fantastic, wild array?
Why have I vagrant fancies
For lads from far away.

My folk were godly Churchmen,—
Or paced in Elders' weeds;
But all were grave and pious
And hated heathen creeds.

Then why are Thor and Wotan
To dread forces still?
Why does my heart go questing
For Pan beyond the hill?


My people clutched at freedom.—
Though others' wills they chained,—
But made the Law and kept it,—
And Beauty, they restrained.

Then why am I a rebel
To laws of rule and square?
Why would I dream and dally,
Or, reckless, do and dare?


O righteous, solemn Grandsires,
O dames, correct and mild,
Who bred me of your virtues!
Whence comes this changing child?—

The thirteenth generation,—
Unlucky number this!—
My grandma loved a Pirate,
And all my faults are his!

A gallant, ruffled rover,
With beauty-loving eye,
He swept Colonial waters
Of coarser, bloodier fry.

He waved his hat to danger,
At Law he shook his fist.
Ah, merrily he plundered,
He sang and fought and kissed!


Though none have found his treasure,
And none his part would take,—
I bless that thirteenth lady
Who chose him for my sake!

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1927, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.