Where the world sailed in

 The clipper ship Southern Cross in Boston Harbor in 1851. Painting by FitzHugh Lane.

The clipper ship Southern Cross in Boston Harbor in 1851. Painting by FitzHugh Lane.

  Meeting-House Square, Boston, in 1895.

Meeting-House Square, Boston, in 1895.

“I must be mad, or very tired,
When the curve of a blue bay beyond a railroad track
Is shrill and sweet to me like the sudden springing of a tune,
And the sight of a white church above thin trees in a city square
Amazes my eyes as though it were the Parthenon.
Clear, reticent, superbly final,
With the pillars of its portico refined to a cautious elegance,
It dominates the weak trees,
And the shot of its spire
Is cool and candid,
Rising into an unresisting sky.
Strange meeting-house
Pausing a moment upon a squalid hill-top.
I watch the spire sweeping the sky,
I am dizzy with the movement of the sky;
I might be watching a mast
With its royals set full
Straining before a two-reef breeze.
I might be sighting a tea-clipper,
Tacking into the blue bay,
Just back from Canton
With her hold full of green and blue porcelain
And a Chinese coolie leaning over the rail
Gazing at the white spire
With dull, sea-spent eyes.’’

-- “Meeting-House Hill,’’ by Amy Lowell (1874-1925)

“Meeting-House Hill’’ is an old section of Boston, from which the poet imagined looking down on clipper ships in the China Trade entering Boston Harbor.