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    To the Harbormaster

    I wanted to be sure to reach you;

    though my ship was on the way it got caught

    in some moorings. I am always tying up

    and then deciding to depart. In storms and

    at sunset, with the metallic coils of the tide

    around my fathomless arms, I am unable

    to understand the forms of my vanity

    or I am hard alee with my Polish rudder

    in my hand and the sun sinking. To

    you I offer my hull and the tattered cordage

    of my will. The terrible channels where

    the wind drives me against the brown lips

    of the reeds are not all behind me. Yet

    I trust the sanity of my vessel; and

    if it sinks, it may well be in answer

    to the reasoning of the eternal voices,

    the waves which have kept me from reaching you.

    Frank O'Hara

    This is the first poem from O'Hara's book, Meditations in an Emergency. I loved typing this, the long drawn last line, keeping us from reaching the end, like waves lapping, though the stated aim in the first line (also the shortest line in the poem) was to reach you. The tender turn at "to / you I offer my hull and the tattered corgage / of my will." The way he codes all his desires. This book, always a refuge.




    1. a place on the coast where vessels may find shelter, especially one protected from rough water by piers, jetties, and other artificial structures. "fishing in the harbor"

    synonyms: port, dock, haven, marina; mooring, moorage, anchorage; waterfront, harborside

    1. a part of the ocean, a lake, etc. that is next to land and is protected and deep enough to provide safety

    2. a place of refuge, security, comfort. "the offered harbor of his arms"

    synonyms: refuge, haven, safe haven, shelter, sanctuary, retreat, place of safety, port in a storm


    1. keep (a thought or feeling) in one's mind, especially secretly; to conceal or hide. "she started to harbor doubts about the wisdom of their journey"

    synonyms: bear, nurse, nurture, cherish, entertain, foster, hold on to, cling to

    1. give a home, refuge, or shelter to. "woodlands harbored a colony of red deer"

    2. to house or contain

    3. hide a criminal or wanted person. "he was suspected of harboring an escaped prisoner"

    synonyms: shelter, conceal, hide, shield, protect, give sanctuary to; take in, put up, accommodate, house

    1. carry the germs of a disease

    2. archaic (of a ship or its crew) moor in a harbor "he might have harbored in San Francisco"


    late Old English herebeorg ‘shelter, refuge,’ herebeorgian ‘occupy shelter,’ of Germanic origin; related to Dutch herberge and German Herberge, 'lodging, quarters,' also to French auberge ‘inn’; see also harbinger.

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