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Seaman’s Ditty

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I’m wondering where you are now
Married, or mad, or free:
Wherever you are you’re likely glad,
But memory troubles me.

We could’ve had us children,
We could’ve had a home—
But you thought not, and I thought not,
And these nine years we roam.

Today I worked in the deep dark tanks,
And climbed out to watch the sea:
Gulls and salty waves pass by,
And mountains of Araby.

I’ve travelled the lonely oceans
And wandered the lonely towns.
I’ve learned a lot and lost a lot,
And proved the world was round.

Now if we’d stayed together,
There’s much we’d never’ve known—
But dreary books and weary lands
Weigh on me like a stone.

Indian Ocean, 1959

Gary Snyder, “Seaman’s Ditty” from Left Out in the Rain: New Poems 1947-1985. Copyright © 1986 by Gary Snyder. Reprinted by permission of Counterpoint Press.
Source: No Nature: New and Selected Poems (1992)
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Seaman’s Ditty

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