26 Norman's Woe - Gloucester HarborWalk
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26 Norman's Woe
And fast through the midnight dark and drear,
Through the whistling sleet and snow,
Like a sheeted ghost, the vessel swept
Towards the reef of Norman’s Woe.

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow “The Wreck of the Hesperus”

At the tip of Solomon Jacobs Park  you can see the distinct rock reef, the site of several ship wrecks, off Gloucester’s Magnolia shore. The brig Favorite sank in here in December 1839. All 20 were lost—including a woman found lashed to a bit of wood. Longfellow penned “The Wreck of the Hesperus” a few weeks later.

NPR Garrison Keillor Recites (4:59)

NPR's Garrison Keillor Recites:

The Wreck Of The Hesperus


Longfellow Journal Entry: ``News of shipwrecks, horrible ...``

Journal entry from Dec 17, 1839

Longfellow writes, “News of shipwrecks, horrible…”

Longfellow Journal Entry: ``Inspiration for Ballad ...``

Journal entry: Dec 30, 1839 Longfellow writes:

“…when suddenly it came into my head to write the Ballad of the Schooner Hesperus…”

Literary Landmark: Longfellow's ``Wreck of the Hesperus``

Literary Landmark: ``Wreck of the Hesperus``

Norman’s Woe, a distinct Gloucester MA landmark,

is featured in Longfellow’s poem “Wreck of the Hesperus”


It was the schooner Hesperus,
That sailed the wintry sea;
And the skipper had taken his little daughtèr,
To bear him company.


Blue were her eyes as the fairy-flax,
Her cheeks like the dawn of day,
And her bosom white as the hawthorn buds,
That ope in the month of May.


The skipper he stood beside the helm,
His pipe was in his mouth,
And he watched how the veering flaw did blow
The smoke now West, now South.


Then up and spake an old Sailòr,
Had sailed to the Spanish Main,
“I pray thee, put into yonder port,
For I fear a hurricane.