All Our Ships Have Sailed

Eugene Stelzig


All our ships sailed away a long time ago.
Some were cruising yachts that
hit hidden rocks and sank into
the dark depths of the silent sea.
Some were bright brigantines that
glided far past our ken to blessed
isles we will never live to see.
Some were white-winged clippers
that ferried away our fondest
dreams. Some were great ocean liners
now long past their service date,
rusting on some forgotten pier
on a distant continent. Some
were container ships endlessly
crisscrossing the same seas,
delivering goods we never even
knew we had. Some were
catamarans trafficking between
coral reefs in search of something
we had lost over the years but
were hoping to recover. All these, our
ships, left their harbor such a
long time ago and we will never
even know when it was that
they heaved anchor or what
distant shores they were sailing to.


Eugene Stelzig was born in Austria in 1943 and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1966, a junior-year Phi Beta Kappa English major. He studied for two years at King's College, Cambridge University, on a Thouron University of Pennsylvania British-American Exchange Fellowship, and completed a Ph.D. in English at Harvard in 1972. At Penn he served on the Pennsylvania Review for four years, and as co-editor in his senior year. In addition to five scholarly books and some fifty refereed articles, he has published two small press collections of poetry, and five autobiographical essays in life writing and literary journals. He is Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus of English at SUNY Geneseo.