The Dark Mistress

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

To properly understand this poem, one should first read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem The Quadroon Girl. It is easily found if you Google it.

In 1801,
On the 5th of May,
Of a dour morn
All foggy and grey,
I first espied
Vermillion Bay.

I'd travelled afar
  No thought of delay.
I'd come not to linger,
  Had no reason to stay,
But to meet a shipwright
  On his dying day.

By a stroke of luck,
  I am happy to say,
'Twas the best bargain
  Ever came my way.
He'd give me the ship;
  I'd not have to pay.

From the dread pallet
  Where he lay,
On the foggy morn
  Of his dying day,
He crooked his finger
  In a certain way.

"Before you die,"
  He went on to say,
"Many's the soul
  Who'll rue the day
They met a dark mistress
  From Vermillion Bay."

His family gathered
  And bore him away
To his place
  Beneath the clay
Near broad banks
  Where shore birds play.

Yes, I'm a Slaver,
  Say what you may,
But my heart
  You'll never sway.
I'll dicker with the Devil
  On Judgement Day.

Of a dour morn
  All foggy and grey,
I mustered a crew
  And sailed away
Aboard the Dark Mistress
  Of Vermillion Bay.

Copyright © 1996 - 2015 W.C. Bell; All rights reserved.

Submitted: January 16, 2015

© Copyright 2022 Whiskey Charlie. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:


Victoria Quinn

Basically I'm too lazy to look up Longfellow's poem but I can appreciate the excellent poem you have written here. It brings out the eerie atmosphere and the shady dealings of the slave trade and the ships which journeyed back and forth across the treacherous oceans to ply their trade. Then deal with the devil when their time comes although the devil waits with pleasure for the number of threats these crews faced at all times. Very atmospheric in its presentation and makes it even more horrific in is base of truth.

Fri, January 16th, 2015 8:26am


Thank you for taking the time to comment. It was the Longfellow poem that inspired me to write this one.

Fri, January 16th, 2015 5:31am

Joseph Mark

Nice poem! I'll read Lonfellow's later (am at work.)

Sun, January 18th, 2015 7:59am


Thank you.

Sun, January 18th, 2015 1:04am


Not only is this fantastic, but it inspired to me to read another fantastic poem in Longfellow's.
Dickering with the devil on Judgement day is such a novel concept. Just... the audacity to say such a thing... it makes the reader think that he just might be able to do it. Great work.

Wed, August 12th, 2015 12:27am


Thank you, CP. I'm surprised you found this one from so relatively long ago. I have no recollection of how I came to read the Longfellow poem, but it made such an impression on me that I felt compelled to match it in style and impact. It took numerous revisions over more than a decade to bring it to its current state (which I consider to be the final version). Anyway, my goal is to entertain, and it is nice to know that I occasionally succeed. Thanks again.

Tue, August 11th, 2015 6:31pm

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