by Dante Alighieri
I launched her with my small remaining band
and, putting out to sea, we set the main
on that lone ship and said farewell to land.
Far to starboard rose the coast of Spain,
astern was Sardi, Islas at our bow,
and soon we saw Morocco port abeam.
Though I and comrades now were old and slow,
we hauled till nightfall for the narrow sound
where Hercules had shown what not to do,
by setting marks for men to stay behind.
At dawn the starboard lookout made Seville,
and at the straits stood Ceuta t'other hand.
"Brothers," I shouted, "who have had the will
to come through danger, and have reached the west!
our time awake is brief from now until
the senses die, and so I say we test
the sun's own motion and do not forego
the worlds beyond, unknown and peopleless.
Think of the roots from which you sprang, and show
that you are human: not unconscious brutes
but made to follow virtue and to know."
Last updated January 14, 2019