[Part of a week-long series about Cyrus Hubbard Wheelock and the poetry of Hannah Last Cornaby. See index here.]
Mormon pioneer Hannah Last Cornaby crossed the Atlantic in 1853 with her husband and child in the ship Ellen Maria. She crossed the plains in Cyrus Wheelock’s company. Here is an excerpt from her poem, “Crossing the Atlantic Ocean.”
And ere we thought the word was given, that all on board must be,
The ropes were loosed, the sails were spread, and we put out to sea.
E’en now, tho’ twenty years have past, I live that time again,
But how describe the sounds that rose, of mingled joy and pain,
While we our voices joined to bid our native land farewell
Which told that we were going to another land to dwell?
And while we sang, a loud sad cry above the music went,
Followed by sobs and wailing moans of terrible lament;
For it was then we learned, what before we did not know,
That a few Irish emigrants were in the hold below.
Their country! Oh, their dear loved isle! so touching was their grief
That many hearts ‘till then quite brave, in tears now found relief.
Alas! the time was very short that we could spend in woe,
For as the vessel started, we had something else to do.
The sobs and cries, and outward signs of grief soon passed away,
And like a suffering, weary child, within our berths we lay.
Three hundred and sixty-three, I believe our numbers were,
And of that number, very few did not sea-sickness share.
The mem’ry of those dreadful days and what we suffered then,
Is fresh and vivid in my mind, but far beyond my pen …