The Stone Fleet

Author: Herman Melville  | Date: 1861

The Stone Fleet

I HAVE a feeling for those ships,

Each worn and ancient one,

With great bluff bows, and broad in the beam;

Ay, it was unkindly done.

But so they serve the Obsolete

Even so, Stone Fleet!

You’ll say I’m doting; do but think

I scudded round the Horn in one

The Tenedos, a glorious

Good old craft as ever run

Sunk (how all unmeet!)

With the Old Stone Fleet.

An India ship of fame was she,

Spices and shawls and fans she bore;

A whaler when her wrinkles came

Turned off! till, spent and poor,

Her bones were sold (escheat!)

Ah! Stone Fleet.

Four were erst patrician keels

(Names attest what families be),

The Kensington, and Richmond too,

Leonidas, and Lee:

But now they have their seat

With the Old Stone Fleet

To scuttle them- a pirate deed

Sack them, and dismast;

They sunk so slow, they died so hard,

But gurgling dropped at last.

Their ghosts in gales repeat

Woe’s us, Stone Fleet!

And all for naught. The waters pass

Currents will have their way;

Nature is nobody’s ally; ’tis well;

The harbor is bettered- will stay.

A failure, and complete,

Was your Old Stone Fleet. December, 1861.

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Chicago: Herman Melville, The Stone Fleet Original Sources, accessed January 26, 2022,

MLA: Melville, Herman. The Stone Fleet, Original Sources. 26 Jan. 2022.

Harvard: Melville, H, The Stone Fleet. Original Sources, retrieved 26 January 2022, from