Children of the elemental mother, Born upon some lonely island shore Where the wrinkled ripples run and whisper, Where the crested billows plunge and roar; Long-winged, tireless roamers and adventurers, Fearless breasters of the wind and sea, In the far-off solitary places I have seen you floating wild and free!
Here the high-built cities rise around you; Here the cliffs that tower east and west, Honeycombed with human habitations, Have no hiding for the sea-bird's nest: Here the river flows begrimed and troubled; Here the hurrying, panting vessels fume, Restless, up and down the watery highway, While a thousand chimneys vomit gloom.
Toil and tumult, confiict and confusion, Clank and clamor of the vast machine Human hands have built for human bondage -- Yet amid it all you float serene; Circling, soaring, sailing, swooping lightly Down to glean your harvest from the wave; In your heritage of air and water, You have kept the freedom Nature gave.
Even so the wild-woods of Manhattan Saw your wheeling flocks of white and grey; Even so you fluttered, followed, floated, Round the Half-Moon creeping up the bay; Even so your voices creaked and chattered, Laughing shrilly o'er the tidal rips, While your black and beady eyes were glistening Round the sullen British prison-ships.
Children of the elemental mother, Fearless floaters 'mid the double blue, From the crowded boats that cross the ferries Many a longing heart goes out to you. Though the cities climb and close around us, Something tells us that our souls are free, While the sea-gulls fly above the harbor, While the river flows to meet the sea!