Poncé De Léon

A poem by Victor James Daley

By a black wharf I stood lately,
When the night was at its noon;
Keen, malicious stars were shining,
And a wicked, white-faced moon.

And I saw a stately vessel,
Built in fashion quaint and old;
From her masthead, in the moonlight,
Hung a flag of faded gold.

Black with age her masts and spars were,
Black with age her ropes and rails;
Like a ghost through cere-cloths gazing
Shone the white moon through her sails.

Not a movement stirred the stillness,
Not a sound the silence broke,
Save alone the livid water
Lapping round her sides of oak.

Then to her unseen commander
Spake I, as to one I knew,
“Don Juan Poncé de Léon,
I have waited long for you.

“Take me with you, I implore you!
Take me with you on your quest
For the Fount of Youth Eternal,
For the Islands of the Blest.”

Then above the bulwarks ancient
I beheld a head arise;
And the moon with ghastly glimmer
Lit its sad and hollow eyes.

“Grieved am I, señor, and sorry,”
Very courteously it said,
“That I may not take you with me,
But I only take the Dead.

“These alone may dare the voyage,
These alone sail on the quest
For the Fount of Youth Eternal,
For the Islands of the Blest.”

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