In the Arab desert, where shade is none,
The waterless land of sand and sun,
Under the pitiless, brazen sky
My burning throat as the sand was dry;
My crazed brain listened in fever dreams
For plash of buckets and ripple of streams;
And opening my eyes to the blinding glare,
And my lips to the breath of the blistering air,
Tortured alike by the heavens and earth,
I cursed, like Job, the day of my birth.
Then something tender, and sad, and mild
As a mother's voice to her wandering child,
Rebuked my frenzy; and bowing my head,
I prayed as I never before had prayed:
Pity me, God! for I die of thirst;
Take me out of this land accurst;
And if ever I reach my home again,
Where earth has springs, and the sky has rain,
I will dig a well for the passers-by,
And none shall suffer from thirst as I.
Monday, January 11, 2010
January 11, 1890
The January 11, 1890, issue of the New York Ledger included a "Souvenir Supplement" featuring "The Captain's Well," a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier, illustrated by Howard Pyle. Here is one of the illustrations, untitled, and engraved on wood by Henry Wolf.
Note the marked resemblance to Pyle's much better known "Marooned" of 1887 and his "Marooned" of 1909. Like many artists, Pyle revisited similar themes, scenes, and poses now and then, and he made at least four variations on this one (the third, chronologically speaking, is in a private collection). The figure here, however, is neither marooned, nor a pirate. Rather, he is Valentine Bagley (1773-1839), a Massachusetts sailor, who was shipwrecked off the Arabian coast in 1792. "He wandered for fifty-one days over the desert, suffering intensely from lack of food and water, and from heat, having been robbed by Bedouins of all his clothing," said William Sloane Kennedy in "In Whittier's Land" (The New England Magazine, November 1892). Below is an extract of the poem, specific to the picture.