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´╗┐Title: Songs of Sea and Sail
Author: Day, Thomas Fleming
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Songs of Sea and Sail" ***

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Songs of Sea and Sail




_Copyright 1898_


_All Rights Reserved_

Press Of
Thomson & Co.
New York



  The Mermaid's Song             9
  Trafalgar                      13
  When                           18
  The Forsaken Port              19
  An Early Moonset               24
  On the Bridge                  25
  Missing                        30
  Making Land                    31
  At Portsmouth                  35
  At Anchor                      39
  From the Cliff                 40
  Then and Now                   42
  The Ships                      43
  The Man-o'-War's Man's Yarn    49
  A Foggy Morning                53
  Unknown                        55
  The Coasters                   57
  To-Day                         62
  The Sailor of the Sail         63
  The Yacht                      68
  The Trade Wind's Song          69
  Execution Rock Light           71
  The Cargo Boats                73
  Noontide Calm                  77
  Old Buccaneer's Song           81
  The Belfry of the Sea          85
  Phantoms                       95
  Flotsam                        98
  The Lost Ship                  99
  The Main Sheet Song            101
  The Landfall                   103
  The Clipper                    104
  The Constitution               105
  The Tartar                     107
  Warning                        110
  In September                   111
  The Homeward Bounder's Song    113
  The Spell of the Sea           115
  Days of Oak                    117
  Long, Long Ago                 119
  Wind Happy Ships               122
  The Quest                      123


  Oh, what comes flowing over the sea
    In the hush of the evening's cool?
  It is a mermaid singing to me
    As she sits in a silver pool.

  As she sits in a silver pool and sings
  Of the world I never shall see,
  Where the dulse-weed clings,
  And the star-fish rings
    The red anemone;
  The world which lies
  Where human eyes
    Are never allowed to see
  The gold and gems
  And fluted stems
    Of the crimson coral tree--
    Is that what she sings to me?
  She is haunting and holding my heart with a strain,
  Where joy lies asleep in the shadow of pain;
    And the world that is under the sea
  Is spreading its pleasures and treasures to gain
    The love that lies dormant in me--
    The love that I bear for the sea,
    For the secret and sorrowful sea;
  Is luring my feet from the gray land again
  And filling my soul with the scent of the main,
    The sound and the scent of the sea;
  And the speech of the siren is spoken in vain,
    For that mermaid is singing to me
    Of the world that is under the sea;
  And the love that I bear for the ocean again,
    For the mournful and mutable sea,
    Has taken possession of me:
  My heart is enmeshed in the mystical strain
    That mermaid is singing to me
    Of the world that lies under the sea.
  Ah, hark again! In a sadder strain
    She is singing a song to me--
    A song of the unseen sea;
  She is singing of ships whose wrecks have lain
    For ages in the sea,
    In the depths of the sunless sea;
  And her voice is soft with a thought of the pain
  That song is giving to me.
  A thought that I thought forever had lain
    In the depths of the soundless sea
  Is searching my soul in that mermaid's strain
    And bringing a sorrow to me
    From the world that is under the sea.
  For I have a friend whose bones have lain
    For ages in the sea,
    (For so it seems to me),
  And her song has opened that wound again
    And brought back a sorrow to me--
    From the depths of the endless sea.
  A grief that is grieving my life again,
  A thought that I thought, forever had lain,
    And never come back to me,
  Is searching my soul in that mermaid's strain
    And bringing a sorrow to me
    From the world that lies under the sea.

  Oh, what comes flowing over the sea
    In the hush of the evening's cool?
  It is a mermaid singing to me
    As she sits in a silver pool.

  TRAFALGAR, 1805.

  We hailed the morning star
    Above the Spanish shore;
    Our cannon's random roar
  Then woke black Trafalgar.
    Where our foes
  Lay in the crescent bay
  We watched the fog bank gray
  Melt silently away
    As the sun uprose.
  Then rolled the deep alarm--
  The foeman's call to arm;
  And swiftly from our van
  There pass'd from man to man,
    "They will fight."
  With hearts that beat to chase
    We caught the growing gale,
    And 'neath a press of sail
  Bore up to take our place
    On the right.

  Nelson, our admiral then,
  Greatest of all seamen,
  We cheered to death again
      As he pass'd;
    'Round toward the land
  We tacked and stood about--
  The hills rang to our shout
  As lifted and blew out
    His last command
      From the mast.
  Then flash'd our full broadside,
  Roaring across the tide,
  As crashing side by side
    We broke their line;
  Thro' rolling clouds of smoke
  Burst in our prows of oak;
  Their tall sides bent and broke
    Like pine.
  As died the stagger'd blast
  The sails dropt to the mast;
  That broadside was their last!
  One more to clip her wing!
      Quick away!
  Tigers our boarders spring,
  Cutlass to cutlass ring,
      In the fray.
  We heard no quarter call:
  A man stood every Gaul!
  Useless, their flag must fall
      That day.

  The fight thus well begun,
    We paused a breathing space;
    Each soul leapt to a face
    As Nelson in his grace
  Signaled "Well done!"
    Staying the tott'ring mast
    We rounded to the blast,
    Grappled the next that pass'd--
  A huge Spaniard.
    No room to lift the ports:
    Black gun to gun retorts--
    Lip locked to lip,
    Each man a firmer grip
  On his lanyard.
  To save this pride of Spain
    A Frenchman joined the fight;
    Then roaring in our might
    We smote him with our right
  Twice, and again.
    "Cease! Cease!" our Captain cries.
    "She lies
  A silent wreck!"
    Three times we spared that foe,
    Yet from her came the blow
    That laid our hero low
  On the deck.

  What more for me to say,
  Save thro' the fatal fray
  We marked the hours that day
    With cheers!
  Our foes struck one by one;
  Yet when the fight was done
  We saw the misty sun
    Set thro' our tears.
  O England, strong yet free,
  The crown we bear to thee,
  Laurels for victory!
    Weave cypress in the wreath:
  For he to whom thou gave
  The keeping of the wave,
  Nelson, the true, the brave,
    Has struck his flag to death.

  Oh, men of hero race,
  In what a fitting place
    To set his conquering star!--
  Amid the battle's roar,
  Under the rolling shore
  Where rises wild and hoar
    Cape Trafalgar.


  When western winds are blowing soft
    Across the Island Sound;
  When every sail that draws aloft
    Is swollen true and round;
  When yellow shores along the lee
    Slope upward to the sky;
  When opal bright the land and sea
    In changeful contact lie;
  When idle yachts at anchor swim
    Above a phantom shape;
  When spires of canvas dot the rim
    Which curves from cape to cape;
  When sea-weed strewn the ebbing tide
    Pours eastward to the main;
  When clumsy coasters side by side
    Tack in and out again--
  When such a day is mine to live,
    What has the world beyond to give?


  Thro' all this perfect summer day
    The wind has blown from out the west,
    And now the sunset fires invest
  Where looms the mainland far away,
    The old town right abreast.
  The red-brown roofs and rugged spires
  Uplift and pierce the sunset fires,
    The old town right abreast.
  The ships rise up, and sail, and sail,
    Then drop beneath the distant rim--
    The crimson rim.
  We watch their topsails float and trail--
    Like bubbles 'round a goblet's brim,
  A moment there they rise and dip,
  Then break against the sky's red lip.
  Unhailed the ships go sailing by
    The old town over there;
  And yet it seems we hear a cry--
  A heart-born cry
    Of anguish and despair,
    Of hope lost in despair.
  In speechful grief the old town stands
  And beckons with its outstretched hands
  As the ships go sailing by.
  Long years ago its port was thronged
    With many a busy sail,
    With rustling sail.
  And many a heart has sighed and longed
    For that old town's cheery hail--
    Has sighed and longed for that old town's welcome hail.
  Oh, where are they who left thy port
    In strength of youth, in pride of love?
  Side by side with a dark consort,
    Calm seas below, blue skies above,
  They tacked and stood across the bar:
  Only the sea knows where they are--
  Only the sea!
  Perhaps at night the phantom ships--
    Thy lost ships--come sailing in;
  Their spectre crews with parted lips
  That utter no sound, for the spell of death
    Turns even a laugh to a grin.
    Do they wait, and list for the din
    Of the cheers and the bells to welcome them in--
    For the cheers and the bells to welcome them in?
  Do their dead hearts know hopes and fears?
  Do they dream of the wives they've not seen for years?--
  The wives and the sweethearts who watched them thro' tears
  Sail away, sail away, when the wind was south
  And the bar was blue at the harbor's mouth,
    And the gulls flew low like flakes of snow,
  And the summer wind bore the heave-yo-ho
  Of the sailors brown
  Into the town?
  Are they here, the ones so dear?
    Alas! the lips that their lips have known,
    Alas! the hearts that once beat to their own
  Are lying up on the hillside there,
    And the daisies and grasses have overgrown
  Their graves for many a year.
  Yon sentinel pine that watches the graves
    Where their wives and sweethearts are laid to rest
  The wild winter wind defies and outbraves;
    Its roots are sunk in some loved one's breast.
    Are their souls at rest?
  Sometimes, I think, they must wander down here
    To watch for the ships that never will come.
  In the silence of night they throng the old pier
    To welcome the wanderers home;
  Their lustreless eyes--
    Enough of death and ghostly tales!
  Oh, let the old town keep its vigil there,
  Watching for those who were!
    What though the dark ship with us sails--
  Ah, fools, to freight our hearts with care!
    To waste our breath in idle hails,
    To cringe and cry.
  We live for those who are, not were!--
    We live to live, not die!


  Like galleon flying a picaroon,
    Along the edge the ship-shap'd moon
  Leadeth a star across the sea
    To the cloudy harbor under her lee.

  With her splendid lading of golden light
    She seems to dread the pirate Night;
  With puffing sails and fretful oars
    She steereth and speedeth for purple shores.

  She will anchor to-night beneath the fort
    Whose grim guns guard the cloudy port,
  Where sound and safe from picaroon
    Rides many an olden and golden moon.


  Eight bells ring out from the fo'c'sle head;
    With a cheery good-eve the mate comes forth,
  The second goes off to his welcome bed,
    After giving the course as west by north.

  As I stand with my chin on the dodger's ridge
    And dreamily eye our plunging craft
  There's a rattle of heels on the flying bridge
    And a gruff report that the watch is aft.

  "All right!" says the mate, with a glance below;
    "Relieve the wheel and the lookout there!"
  And then we begin, with our to and fro,
    The walk and the talk we nightly share.

  In silence at first--for our pipes are lit--
    We pace and puff, and we pause and turn,
  And it's up and down, for she rolls a bit
    When flying light with the sea astern.

  But there's a key in the hands of smoke
    That fits a lock in the lazy brain,
  And we spring the wards with a quiet joke
    And rout out a store of yarns again.

  Our voices ring with a pleasant sound,
    And now and again it seems to me
  As though in the roar that sweeps around
    We are joined by the social sea.

  And in that strange way that talk is bred--
    As a few grains sown bring the wheaty stack--
  So something afresh the other said
    Put the roaming brain on another tack.

  And we boxed about in an aimless way,
    With a careless fling from sea to land,
  And spoke of the world as a young man may
    When he hasn't the time to understand.

  We spoke of the land that gave us birth;
    We spoke of the one that's home to me:
  Those nations destined to shape the earth
    To the single state it is to be--

  Of tricks we played in our school-boy days;
    The fun and frolic of being young;
  How we jollied life in a hundred ways
    With gibes that pleased and jests that stung.

  And of those we loved--for now we knew
    With half our life in the dim astern
  Which lights were false and which lights were true,
    And whose was the hand that bid them burn.

  Of the rough hard life the sailor leads,
    The pay he gets and the sharks ashore,
  And what are the laws our shipping needs,
    And the way things went in days of yore.

  Of the sailing ship as she yet survives,
    Of rigs we never shall see again,
  Of inventions that save our seamen's lives
    And murder the breed of sailor men.

  We talk of these and of many a bout
    When a crew came aft for a nasty row--
  When loud comes a cry from the fore look-out
    Of a light on the starboard bow.

  "All right!" the response. Then we train our eyes
    On the western rim thro' the closing night.
  It's a steamer, sure, by the flash and size--
    A liner's electric masthead light.

  She rises fast, and is soon up well,
    Rushing along 'neath a smoky pall,
  A mass of lights like some huge hotel
    Ablaze for its annual boarders' ball.

  As she grows abeam--for we give her space,
    For twenty knots is a right of way--
  There's an answering glow on old ocean's face
    And a glint on the waves in play.

  And I think, as I watch her speed along,
    Of the many lives she holds in trust,
  And ponder what they would do, that throng,
    If Fate should get in a deadly thrust.

  A ship like ours or a sunken wreck--
    A crash in the dark--some plates stove in--
  A frightened rush for the upper deck,
    And a clamorous, cowardly din!

  How some would die as men should die,
    How some would perish in selfish strife,
  How some in that hour would dignify
    By a noble close a worthless life.

  How she whose vigor we oft deride--
    The woman--would show her courage then,
  And meet her death at her lover's side
    In a way to shame the best of men.

  But, Science be praised, it is seldom now
    We lose a ship by a sudden crash,
  For what with the lights and the whistle's row
    We luckily dodge a general smash.

  And that ship there, as she breasts the swell
    And ghosts her side with a foamy ridge,
  Has had many a shave--for logs don't tell
    All the tales of a steamer's bridge.

  In silence we watch her for quite a time
    Until she becomes a smoky blear,
  Then as ten rings out from the fo'c'sle chime
    I go aft to my cheese and my beer.


  A cloudless sky, a sleeping sea,
    A cold gray reach of shore,
  A gleam of sail upon the lee--
    And nothing more.

  My eyes saw that, my heart saw more:
    A woman whose quivering lip
  Moulded this sentence o'er and o'er,
    "God keep that ship!"

  God keep that ship! Her prayer, not mine,
    Goes out across the sea
  To where beyond the misty line
    A face is turned from me.
  God keep that ship! Her ship, not mine--
    Mine never came back to me.


  The fore-royal furled, I pause and I stand,
    Both feet on the yard, for a look around,
  With eyes that ache for a sight of the land,
    For we are homeward bound.

  Like a bowl of silver the ocean lies,
    Untouched by the fret of a single sail,
  And over its edge the billows uprise
    And slide before the gale.

  I see, close beneath me, the garn's'l bulge,
    And half of the tops'l swollen and round
  Swells out above, where the bunts divulge
    The fores'l's snowy mound.

  With a fill and a flap the jibs respond,
    As she rolls a-weather, then rolls a-lee,
  And her bone as she leaps is thrown beyond
    The next o'ertaken sea.

  And the hull beneath in its foamy ring
    Is narrowed in by the spread of sail,
  And the waves as they wash her seem to fling
    Their heads above the rail.

  And I hear the roar of the passing blast,
    And the hiss and gush of the parted sea
  Is mixed with the groan of the straining mast,
    And the parrel's, che, che, che.

  Of the weather deck where the old man strides,
    From the break of the poop to the after-rail,
  I can catch a glimpse, but all besides
    Is hid by swelling sail.

  For the wake abaft is shut behind,
    Except when she yaws from her helm and throws;
  Then like a green lane it seems to wind
    Aheap with drifted snows.

  But lo! as I gaze the weather clew
    Of the topsail lifts to the watch's weight,
  And the helmsman comes into perfect view,
    And at his side the mate.

  As I swing my eyes ahead again
    For that one last look ere I drop below,
  They catch as she lifts a grayish stain
    Athwart the orange glow.

  My heart leaps up at the welcome sight,
    And I grasp the pole with a firmer hand,
  And shading my eyes from the glancing light
    Make sure that it is land.

  It seems to dance, but I catch it still
    As we lift to the sweep of a longer sea--
  'Tis the windy top of a far-off hill
    Whose shape is known to me.

  Then I send a yell to the rolling deck,
    And start all hands from their work below;
  As I point with a rigid arm at the speck--
    The cry comes back, "Land ho!"

  And the mate looks up and gives a call,
    The old man stops in his clock-like walk,
  The watch lets up on the top-sail fall
    And takes a spell of talk.

  The skipper goes aft to the binnacle, where
    He shapes his hand on the compass card,
  And takes with a glance the bearing there,
    Eying me on the yard.

  And I stand with my right arm swinging out,
    With a finger true on the dancing speck,
  Until on my ears falls the ringing shout:
    "All right! Lay down on deck!"


  The great ships in the harbour
    Sit silent on the tide,
  And in the sea beneath them
    Their gloomy shadows ride.

  There is no life, no beauty,
    No grace the heart can feel,
  In those irenic monsters--
    Those hideous forms of steel.

  It is old England's squadron,
    Her constant watch and ward--
  The bulwark of her freedom,
    The Channel's matchless guard.

  How different from the frigates
    That bore the dauntless Blake;
  How different from the liners
    That roared in Nelson's wake!

  Majestic then and lofty
    They towered above the deep,
  Bestowing beauty on the main
    Their forms were framed to keep.

  Sail over sail they offered
    Their canvas to the wind,
  That mimicked in its whiteness
    The wake they swept behind.

  No wonder kingly seamen
    Were bred in ships like those;
  No wonder that they made them
    A terror to their foes.

  For in the grace and beauty
    They shed upon the sea
  Man found the inspiration
    That kept him brave and free.

  And man and ship together
    Played well that noble part,
  Until their oaken sides became
    A symbol for his heart.

  But look! where black and formless
    Those modern monsters ride
  A blot upon the seascape,
    A load upon the tide.

  Hark! from the massive flagship
    Breathes out the morning gun;
  Exultant in its mission
    Her ensign meets the sun.

  From battle-ship and cruiser,
    From merchantman and fort,
  The cross of red makes glorious
    The strong and ancient port.

  Then with a heart that follows
    I turn my eager eyes
  To where at honored moorings
    The grand old victor lies.

  There floats the same proud bunting
    She swept along the breeze
  The day that France was broken
    And driven from the seas.

  There in prophetic splendor
    It crowns her shapely spar,
  The promise of a future--
    The final Trafalgar.


  Sights of sail are caught on the edge--
    Black coasters waiting the flood;
  Nest of spars that stroke like the sedge
    Long rivers of sunset blood.

  Gleam of lamps low down in the west,
    Gulls crying over the bar,
  Sea as still as a child at breast,
    Moon following up a star.

  That is to-night--and our own to twist
    Round memory's finger and hold,
  As guerdon for those we've lost or missed
    While fretting and fighting for gold.


  The wind is fresh, the wind is foul;
  The clouds are long and low and gray;
  The rocky headland wears a cowl,
  And looks a monk who kneels to pray
  And tell his beads for parting souls:
  While out beyond the bar there rolls
  A sullen swell, and white and high
  Along the cliffs the breakers fly.

      _Roar, roar, O Sea! Thy stormy song
      Appalls the weak, but nerves the strong._

  Look! yonder bark with puffing sail
  Has turned her bow to win the sea;
  She fears to meet the rising gale
  With reef and rockland on her lee.
  And as she luffs the blast to greet,
  By halyard, clew, and straining sheet,
  All, all, alert her seamen stand,
  And watch with anxious eye the land.

      _Roar, roar, O Sea! Thy stormy song
      Appalls the weak, but nerves the strong._

  Then tack on tack she weathers out--
  Her topsails shiver in the wind;
  Down goes the helm, she flies about,
  And leaping off soon leaves behind
  The rocky dangers, and has past
  The headland, when the wrathful blast,
  Bursts from the cloud and wild and grand
  Hurls in the sea against the land.

      _Roar, roar, O Sea! Thy stormy song
      Appalls the weak, but nerves the strong._


  The wind has changed to happy south,
    The tide is setting free,
  As one by one, past harbor mouth,
    Our ships stand out to sea.
  We watch them pass, my love and I;
    We shout Halloo! from shore.
  Good-bye! Good-bye! the sailors cry;
    Good-bye! the breakers roar.

  The wind has turned to icy north,
    Full bitterly it blows;
  The sea is wroth, and white with froth,
    And no ship comes or goes.
  We watch for them, my love and I;
    We linger on the shore.
  The breakers cry Ho! ho! Good-bye!--
    Good-bye for evermore.


  Sing the sea, sing the ships,
  Sing the sea and its ships,
  With the lightness and the brightness
  Of the foam about their lips;
  When reaching off to seaward,
  When running down to leeward,
  When beating up to port with the pilot at the fore;
  When racing down the Trade,
  Or ratching half afraid
  With a lookout on the yard for the marks along the shore.

  Sing them when you frame them,
  Sing them when you name them,
  Sing them as you sing the woman whom you love;
  For the world of life they lose you,
  For the home that they refuse you,
  For the sea that deeps beneath them and the sky that crowns above.

    Sing them when they leave you,
    Sing them when they grieve you,
  Going down the harbor with a smoky tug along;
    With the yards braced this and that,
    And the anchor at the cat,
  And the bunting saying good-bye to the watching, waving throng.

    Sing them when they need you,
    Sing them when they speed you,
  With their stems making trouble for the steep Atlantic seas;
    When the channel as she rolls
    Heaps the foam along the poles,
  And the decks fore-and-aft are awash above your knees.

    Sing them when they spring you,
    Sing them when they wing you,
  Rolling down the Trades with a breeze that never shifts;
    When the crew they quite forget
    What is meant by cold and wet,
  And the feel of the braces and the sheets and the lifts.

    Sing them when they mock you,
    Sing them when they shock you,
  Smothered under topsails with the kingly Horn abeam;
    When the wind flies round about
    And the watch is always out,
  And all hands are wishing that they'd signed to go in steam.

    Sing the sea, sing the ships,
    Sing the sea and its ships,
    With the molding and the folding
    Of the wave about their form;
    Sing them when they teach us,
    Sing them when they preach us,
  A lesson in the calm and a sermon in the storm.

    Sing them when the dying
    Wind has left them lying
  With the canvas in the brails a-tremble to the rolls;
    And the ocean is so still
    That you wonder if it will
  Give back to her who bore them those legions of lost souls.

    Sing the sea, sing the ships,
    Sing the sea and its ships,
    With the forming and the storming
    Of the wave athwart their bows;
    Sing them when you clear them,
    Sing them when you steer them,
    For the strength that they have given
    And the courage they arouse.

    For the nation that forgets them,
    For the nation that regrets them,
  Is a nation that is dying as the nations all must die;
    For there never yet was state
    That met the Roman fate
  While she had a ship to guard her and a sailor to stand by.

    For the traffic you have won,
    For the web that you have spun,
  To catch the flies of commerce and the fleeting gnats of trade
    Will be rent and blown away,
    For the weak will never pay
  Their earnings to a people who have stamped themselves afraid.

    Pull down the selfish wall!
    We are not cowards all!
  There are some who dare to struggle with the traders of the world.
    Cast off the nation's chain,
    And give us back the main,
  And the flag that's never absent and the sail that's never furled.

    Sing the sea, sing the ships,
    Sing the sea and its ships,
    With the mounding and the pounding
    Of the wave along their sides;
    When sailing out and bounding,
    When towing in and rounding,
  They drop the anxious anchor and they face the swinging tides.

    Sing them when you leave them
    Sing them when you heave them
  To a fast berth, a last berth beside the knackers quay;
    For our ships are getting rotten
    And our people have forgotten
  The mission of the vessel and the glory of the sea.


  Down came the corvette on our weather;
  Then thundered our broadsides together.
    Thus thus we fought all day;
  And when the sun set and evening spread
    Across the East her mantle gray,
    Under our lee she lay,
  Her decks a mass of dead.
  Yet at her splintered foremast head
  Her ensign laughed,
  Lifting and flapping in the draft,
  Scorning our shot to bring it down.
  Our Captain eyed it with a frown
    To hide his admiration--
    Hero himself, he heroes knew,
    Tho' children of a hated nation.
  Then to his weary blood-stained crew
    He cried:--
  "To your guns once more
  And let our broadside roar!"
    Then hot and close we plied
  Her with shot that tore
  Her fore and aft;
  Yet still that crimson banner laughed--
  Yet still her broken, bleeding men
  Gave back our cheers again.

  We would have spared them then;
    As with fierce and flashing eyes,
  With eyes aflame with pride,
  We looked upon a foe
  Who for twelve hot hours defied
    A vessel twice her size.
  But Fate thrust in a bloody fist
  And gave our hearts a devilish twist.
  A random shot that hit our rail
    Came from her foremost gun,
  And flying in the splinter hail
    Struck down the one
  Whose voice had shaped and cheered the fray
  Thro' all that mad and murderous day.
  He fell; and for a space we stood
  As though our smoke-grimed forms had turned to wood,
    The victims of some deadly spell.
  Silence--save for the feverish groans of they
  Who, writhing, dying lay--
    Was over all; then suddenly there burst a yell
    That would have shocked and staggered hell!

  Ah! you who sit with me to-night
  And talk of war, of might and right;
  Had you been there to see that fight,
  When, reeling down upon the wreck,
  We boarded, leaping on her deck,
  And mad with slaughter--mad and blind
  With blood of ours, aye, your own kind.
  We shot and cut, we slew
  The remnant of that dauntless crew;
  And when our pikes had struck the last
  Tore down that ensign from the mast.
  Had you been there, I say, to see
  That horror--but, enough for me
  To tell, we shuddered at the sight
  When in the chill that follows fight
  We gazed upon that slaughter pen
  And knew those things as fellow-men.
  With feverish haste we cleared the deck,
  Then fired the slowly sinking wreck,
  And cutting loose stood off astern,
  And watched her spar and topsides burn
  Till suddenly a blinding flash;
  A roar. Silence. Here--there--a splash
  And all was o'er. We filled our yard,
  Though leaking much and laboring hard
  Stood up for port, and made at last
  The harbor's light. But ho! avast
  With tales like this; they breed a thirst--
  Another glass--my throat is curs'd
  With fire. Here's to the gallant tar
  Who talks of peace, yet longs for war;
  Who lives to see his ship again
  Dispute the glory of the main,
  And man for man, and gun for gun,
  Meet such another dauntless one.


  Seaward driving, like a shriving
    Gray monk cloaked in gray,
  Thro' the crowded ship-enshrouded,
    Buoy-bound reaches of the bay;
  Misty moving phantoms proving
    Vessels creeping slowly past.
  Hark! the droning fog-horn moaning
    From the steamer looming vast;
  Bell-buoy telling when the swelling
    Swell of ocean rocks its boat
  Where the ledge's granite edges
    Threaten ships that overfloat;
  Canvas dripping, dew streams slipping
    Down the black and swollen gear;
  Helmsman peering at the steering
    Compass thro' a watery blear;
  Topsails dimming in the swimming
    Vapor sea that floats o'erhead,
  And the singing seaman swinging
    Constantly the pilot lead;
  Sun uprising with surprising
    Mystic glory haunts the shroud,
  Red and rolling thro' the shoaling
    Eastward verges of the cloud;
  Spars uplifting on the shifting
    Billows of the fading mist
  Seem suspended on extended
    Rippling ropes of amethyst;
  Day-star bursting, hotly thirsting,
    Drains the fog with fervid lips;
  Sunlight flashing shows us dashing
    Past the port, the town, the ships.


  Lo! when the sun was half dropt in the west,
  As wing-weary sea birds seeking their night-rest,
  They drifted in upon the harbor's breast.

  None knew from whence they came, or where they sailed;
  No betraying pennon from their mastheads trailed;
  They answered not when they were loudly hailed.

  When the day into the night had died
  They clustered on the ebbing tide,
  Like sleeping sea swans, side by side.

  The warders at the midnight hour,
  Within the shadow of the tower,
  Watched their lanterns rise and lower.

  Ere scarce the day and earth had wed,
  Their oars on either side they spread,
  Shook out their sails and southward fled.

  And when the sun shot up across the bay,
  Naught showed where they had made their stay,
  Save the broken corals where their anchors lay.

  So into my heart at eventide
  Ofttimes a fleet of dreams will glide,
  And all night long at anchor ride.

  From whence they come, or where they go,
  What pain or joy their forms foreshow,
  I dare not ask--I cannot know.

  But when dawn breaks o'er sea and mart,
  With rippling oars and yearning sails they start,
  Leaving their anchor marks upon my heart.


  _Overloaded, undermanned,
    Trusting to a lee;
  Playing I-spy with the land,
    Jockeying the sea--
  That's the way the Coaster goes,
    Thro' calm and hurricane:
  Everywhere the tide flows,
  Everywhere the wind blows,
    From Mexico to Maine._

  O East and West! O North and South!
    We ply along the shore,
  From famous Fundy's foggy mouth,
    From voes of Labrador;
  Thro' pass and strait, on sound and sea,
    From port to port we stand--
  The rocks of Race fade on our lee,
    We hail the Rio Grande.
  Our sails are never lost to sight;
    On every gulf and bay
  They gleam, in winter wind-cloud white,
    In summer rain-cloud gray.

  We hold the coast with slippery grip;
    We dare from cape to cape;
  Our leaden fingers feel the dip
    And trace the channel's shape.
  We sail or bide as serves the tide;
    Inshore we cheat its flow,
  And side by side at anchor ride
    When stormy head-winds blow.
  We are the offspring of the shoal,
    The hucksters of the sea;
  From customs theft and pilot toll,
    Thank God that we are free.

  _Legging on and off the beach,
    Drifting up the strait,
  Fluking down the river reach,
    Towing thro' the Gate--
  That's the way the Coaster goes,
    Flirting with the gale:
  Everywhere the tide flows,
  Everywhere the wind blows,
    From York to Beavertail._

         *       *       *       *       *

  _Here and there to get a load,
    Freighting anything;
  Running off with spanker stowed,
    Loafing wing-a-wing--
  That's the way the Coaster goes,
    Chumming with the land:
  Everywhere the tide flows,
  Everywhere the wind blows,
    From Ray to Rio Grande._

  We split the swell where rings the bell
    On many a shallow's edge,
  We take our flight past many a light
    That guards the deadly ledge,
  We greet Montauk across the foam,
    We work the Vineyard Sound,
  The Diamond sees us running home,
    The Georges outward bound;
  Absecom hears our canvas beat
    When tacked off Brigantine,
  We raise the Gulls with lifted sheet,
    Pass wing-and-wing between.

  Off Monomoy we fight the gale,
    We drift off Sandy Key;
  The watch of Fenwick sees our sail
    Scud for Henlopen's lee.
  With decks awash and canvas torn
    We wallow up the Stream;
  We drag dismasted, cargo borne,
    And fright the ships of steam.
  Death grips us with his frosty hands
    In calm and hurricane;
  We spill our bones on fifty sands
    From Mexico to Maine.

  _Cargo reef in main and fore,
    Manned by half a crew;
  Romping up the weather shore,
    Edging down the Blue--
  That's the way the Coaster goes.
    Scouting with the lead:
  Everywhere the tide flows,
  Everywhere the wind blows,
    From Cruz to Quoddy Head._


  The sea and the sky are in love to-day,
    Their forms are the forms of one;
  And ships that sit on the lip of the bay,
    Coming and going the other way,
  Are sparks in the sparkling sun.

  The shape and shadow of yachts that slip
    Embayed by the land's long sweep
  Are phantoms that cover a phantom ship,
    While out on the shoals the summer gulls dip--
  To-day is a day asleep.


  I sing the Sailor of the Sail, breed of the oaken heart,
  Who drew the world together and spread our race apart,

  Whose conquests are the measure of thrice the ocean's girth,
  Whose trophies are the nations that necklace half the earth.

  Lord of the Bunt and Gasket and Master of the Yard,
  To whom no land was distant, to whom no sea was barred:

  Who battled with the current; who conquered with the wind;
  Who shaped the course before him by the wake he threw behind;

  Who burned in twenty climates; who froze in twenty seas;
  Who crept the shore of Labrador and flash'd the Caribbees.

  Who followed Drake; who fought with Blake; who broke the bar of Spain,
  And who gave to timid traffic the freedom of the main.

  Who woke the East; who won the West; who made the North his own;
  Who weft his wake in many a fake athwart the Southern zone;

  Who drew the thread of commerce through Sunda's rocky strait;
  Who faced the fierce Levanter where England holds the gate;

  Who saw the frozen mountains draw down the moonlike sun;
  Who felt the gale tear at the sail, and ice gnaw at the run;

  Who drove the lance of barter through Asia's ancient shield;
  Who tore from drowsy China what China dare not yield;

  Who searched with Cook and saw him unroll beneath his hand
  The last, the strangest continent, the sundered Southern land;

  To whom all things were barter--slaves, spices, gold, and gum;
  Who gave his life for glory; who sold his soul for rum--

  I sing him, and I see him, as only those can see
  Who stake their lives to fathom that solveless mystery;

  Who on the space of waters have fought the killing gale,
  Have heard the crying of the spar, the moaning of the sail;

  Who never see the ocean but that they feel its hand
  Clutch like a siren at the heart to drag it from the land;

  I see him in the running when seas would overwhelm
  Lay breathing hard along the yard and sweating at the helm.

  I see him at the earing light out the stubborn bands
  When every foot of canvas is screeved with bloody hands.

  I see him freezing, starving--I see him scurvy curst,
  Alone, and slowly dying, locked in that hell of thirst.

  I see him drunk and fighting roll through some seaboard town,
  When those who own and rob him take to the street and frown.

  O Sovereign of the Boundless! O Bondsman of the Wave!
  Who made the world dependent, yet lived and died a slave.

  In Britain's vast Valhalla, where sleep her worst and best--
  Where is the grave she made you--your first and final rest--

  Beneath no stone or trophy, beneath no minster tower,
  Lie those who gave her Empire, who stretched her arm to power.

  Below those markless pathways where commerce shapes the trail,
  Unsung, unrung, forgotten, sleeps The Sailor of The Sail.


  How like a queen she walks the summer sea;
    Her canvas crowning well the comely mold
    Light loved until it lifts a spire of gold
  Outlined and inset by a tracery
    Of rig and spar. Hers is a witchery
    Of loveliness, that seems to draw and hold
    The wind to do its bidding. Fold on fold
  The seas charge in; then stricken by the free
    Quick lancing of her stem recoil to break
  Against the breeze; then rushing back they foam
    Along the rail, and swirl into the wake,
    And rave astern in many a wrinkled dome.
  For thus she doth her windward way betake
    Like one who lives to conquer and to roam.


  Oh, I am the wind that the seamen love--
    I am steady, and strong, and true;
  They follow my track by the clouds above
    O'er the fathomless tropic blue.

  For close by the shores of the sunny Azores
    Their ships I await to convoy;
  When into their sails my constant breath pours
    They hail me with turbulent joy.

  Oh, I bring them a rest from the tiresome toil
    Of trimming the sail to the blast;
  For I love to keep gear all snug in the coil
    And the sheets and the braces all fast.

  From the deck to the truck I pour all my force,
    In spanker and jib I am strong;
  For I make every course to pull like a horse
    And worry the great ship along.

  As I fly o'er the blue I sing to the crew,
    Who answer me back with a hail;
  I whistle a note as I slip by the throat
    Of the buoyant and bellying sail.

  I laugh when the wave leaps over the head
    And the jibs thro' the spray-bow shine,
  For an acre of foam is broken and spread
    When she shoulders and tosses the brine.

  Thro' daylight and dark I follow the bark,
    I keep like a hound on her trail;
  I'm strongest at noon, yet under the moon
    I stiffen the bunt of her sail;

  The wide ocean thro' for days I pursue,
    Till slowly my forces all wane;
  Then in whispers of calm I bid them adieu
    And vanish in thunder and rain.

  Oh, I am the wind that the seamen love--
    I am steady, and strong, and true;
  They follow my track by the clouds above
    O'er the fathomless tropic blue.


  Out on its knoll of granite gray,
    Old Execution rears its ghostly shaft,
  And thro' the night and thro' the day
    Speaks cheer to passing craft;
  While in the sun they see it gleam
    Upon the horizon, miles afar,
  And in the dark its changeful beam
    Flames out a guiding star.
  From year to year, thro' calm and gale,
    Across the Sound its warning flare is cast
  It cries "All's well!" to steam and sail
    And guides them safely past.
  One day it hides its form in haze
    And seems to sentinel some mystic strand;
  The next, it glories in the blaze
    Of morning's crimson brand.
  And now across the stormy tide
    It spires against the sandy bluff, and shows
  The front of one who will abide
    The shock of lusty blows.
  Along its reef the surges roll,
    And white with repulse rise and fling their froth
  Like snow across the rocky knoll,
    Then burst in foamy wrath.
  And there it stands, fearless, sedate,
    Like some brave knight who scorns to couch his lance
  Against the churls, but with his weight
    Bears back their wild advance.


  I love to see them, laden deep,
    Come steaming in from ports afar,
  And, slipping past the light-ship, creep
    With watchful steps across the bar,

  Mauled by the hands of tide and time,
    All grimy with their grimy coals,
  Their funnels white with salty rime,
    And smoky rings about their poles.

  Look, now, along the Gedney lane,
    With pushing bows comes slowly through
  A West of England cargo wain,
    With banded stack and star of blue.

  There is no beauty in her form;
    But when has simple beauty paid
  In vessel destined to perform
    As Cinderella to the trade?

  Go, let her haughty sisters flaunt
    Their sightly stems and graceful sheers;
  But let her best, her only vaunt,
    Be that she is as she appears--

  A thing that men have framed to bear
    Their merchandise at cheapest rates,
  That's safe to pay a pound a share,
    And more when there's a boom in freights;

  A monster whelped of monster age--
    An age that thinks but cannot feel--
  Whose Bible is the balanced page,
    Whose gods are gods of steam and steel.

  In her I love the useful thing--
    In her I hate the sailless mast;
  For I am one who cares to sing
    The glories of the steamless past.

  I feel the spirit of the age--
    The master splendor of its span--
  But make no common with the rage
    That lifts the thing above the man.

  But useless this--we've learned to make
    The word _mechanic_ fit a song;
  So let us watch that ship and take
    Her picture as she jogs along.

  The house-flag hoist; the ensign spread;
    The tackles rove; the booms atop;
  The deck-gang busy on the head;
    The anchor ready for the drop.

  Though from this outlook men appear
    No bigger than a dancing midge,
  I see the pilot standing near
    The skipper on the upper bridge.

  The telegraph is set "stand by";
    The oldest hand is at the wheel;
  And down below with watchful eye
    The Chief awaits the warning peal.

  The engines hiss; the 'scape-pipe roars;
    The firemen spread the dusty slack,
  And sternward from her funnel pours
    A cloud that lingers in her track.

  The Hook is past, the buoy abeam;
    Then slowly to her helm she turns,
  And getting confidence and steam
    At full speed up the bay she churns.

  Her lean hull shrinks, her spars grow short,
    Her trailing flag is scarcely seen,
  As slipping past the granite fort
    She drops her hook off Quarantine.

  And we who watch her turn away
    And talk of ships and other things,
  The present and the future day,
    And what the world will do with wings.

  How men will stir with busy hum
    The upper main, by wake untraced,
  And how the ocean will become
    Again a sailless, shipless waste.



  The azure sky leans on the sea,
  Inverting its concavity,
  And in the waveless depths below
  Re-forms and rolls its cloudy show;
  For cloud and cloud are piled to shape
  A mountain here, and there a cape,
  Until the heavens seem to rest
  A cheek upon the ocean's breast,
  And listen, with white lips apart,
  To catch the beating of its heart.
  Fathoms deep, oh, fathoms deep,
  Maid and merman lie asleep;
  Calm above and calm below;
  Sheering to the current's flow,
  Vessels red and vessels brown,
  Floating, cast a shadow down
  On the seafolks' coral town.


  Slowly the shadows crawl
  Along the wall
  Of the sea-king's hall.
  The sea-grass curtains thro'
  He looks out upon the blue
  Glimmering regions that bow down
  To the magic of his crown.
  Lord of half an ocean, he
  Loves to live where rivers three,
  Flowing from the windy hills,
  Drinkers of a thousand rills,
  Pour into the thirsty sea.
  There he delights to lie,
  Mirroring the lucent sky
  In his wild and wondrous eye.
  Far, far o'erhead he marks
  The swordfish and the sharks
  Darting up and floating down;
  Sees the porpoise, blue and brown,
  Plunge thro' the silver nebula
  Of fish;--the herring in dismay
  Break, scatter like a starry host
  Whose path some errant sun has cross'd.
  And he smiles to watch the race
  When the merry dolphins chase
  A dogfish from his flying prey;
  Where the clumsy sea-cows stray,
  Herded by the mermen strong,
  Who, with lances light and long,
  Keep the gaunt sea-wolves at bay.


  Shades of vessels that have passed
  Rope and sail and yellow mast--
  On the seafolks' town are cast;
  And the Merking, startled by
  Shadows in his crystal sky,
  Calls the guard at palace gate,
  Where he reigns in ancient state,
  Sitting on a coral throne,
  With sea-mosses overgrown--
  Calls his guard to send a slave
  Skyward, soaring thro' the wave,
  To command the mariner
  To move on. The messenger,
  A dolphin bold,
  With back of gold,
  Swiftly cleaving, swirling, leaving
  A flashing trail,
  As from each scale
  And finny tip
  A silver spray of bubbles slip.
  Higher, higher rises he,
  Till from the surface of the sea
  He leaps, and gloriously
  Rolls his flashing coat of mail
  In the splendor of the day.
  Then the sailors trim the sail,
  Knowing that the sprightly gale
  Cometh when the dolphins play.
  Haste away! Haste away!
  For the breeze
  Frets the seas,
  And the rim of opal hue
  Burns a green and flames a blue.


  Oh, my heart goes privateering along the Spanish Main,
  And I feel the breezes blowing and see those isles again--
  Those isles of peace and plenty where we loved to linger long,
  To woo the black-eyed Carib maid who sang the rover's song;
  Who, resting in the palm shade when the sun was fierce above,
  With many a tender measure taught us what indeed is love.

  Oh, my heart goes privateering along the Spanish Main,
  And I hear my comrades calling me back to them again;
  For 'tis where the breakers, roaring, flash in and beat the sand--
  'Tis where the feathery plantain shakes its shadow on the strand;
  'Neath orange and palmetto and many a flowery tree
  Dwell the gallant privateersmen who drink and think of me.

  Oh, my heart goes privateering along the Spanish Main--
  I see our banners flying and I hear the cheers again:
  When with many a reckless comrade in vessel tall and true,
  Before the constant trade-wind to the south-and-west we flew,
  And ere the haughty Spaniard had thought of danger near
  Town and tower and galleon were spoil of buccaneer.

  Oh, my heart goes privateering along the Spanish Main,
  And many a pearl and red doubloon chink in my hand again.
  Back, back unto the sunny isle to rest a season there--
  To bind a lace of priceless gems in my sweet Carib's hair,
  To feel her arms about my neck, to hear her sing again
  The pleasures and the glories of our life along the main.

  Oh, my heart goes privateering along the Spanish Main,
  For I am weary waiting for those days to come again.
  A curse upon this slothful life and this black northern land!
  Oh, give to me the sapphire sea and southern strand!
  Oh, let me hear but once again my comrades' ringing cheers,
  And lead to spoil and victory the dashing buccaneers.


  _Men who bless them
    And caress them--
  Bells that call upon the land--
    Curse and chide them,
    Mock, deride them,
  When they shout above a sand.
  Not alone are bells thus treated,
  For the story is repeated
  In the world of every day;
    He who flings us--
    He who brings us--
  Joys and pleasures all may share,
  Has our blessings for his pay;
    But he who warns us--
    He who mourns us,
  Bids us to the watch and ware--
    Has our curses,
    And reverses
  In the moulds that mint our prayer._

  O singer of the sailor's song,
  Fear not to sing me broad and strong--
  Fear not to sing me in the van
  Of those who stand and strive for man;
  And if they make the question, then
  Come tell me what man does for men.

  I am the Belfry of the Sea,
    The rider of the swell,
  The guardsman of the deadly lee,
    The outer sentinel.

  Man placed me here to watch this sand--
    This sneaking, shifting shoal--
  He shaped me with a clever hand,
    So that my bell doth toll
  With every move and motion
  Of the changeful, changeless ocean.

  Mine is a thankless task;
  But no recompense I ask.
  I am hated by the shoal;
    I am hated by the sea;
  And the very fish that bask
  In the shadow of my cask
    Are half afraid of me.

  The land wind speaks me fair,
  For it has no thought or care
  With the deeds that are done
    In the midnight and the gale;
  And it bears me on its wing
  A welcome offering
  Of the shouting of the upland
    And the chatter of the shale.

  But most I love the weather
  When the wind and sea together
  Lie locked in summer slumber
    And the sky sleeps overhead,
  For then I ease the strain
  On my anchor and my chain,
  And ring a muffled service
    For my shattered, scattered dead.

  I am never wholly sad;
  I am never wholly glad;
  For my sadness is half madness
  And my gladness is half sadness
  For the remnants of the wrecks
  That lie below me cast
    A gloom upon the wave,
  And my sunny days are past
  Sleeping in the shadow
    That is shaken from a grave.

  'Twas not I who betrayed them;
  'Twas not I who waylaid them;
  But they died with curses for me
    On their water-wasted lips.
  I did my best to save them
  The warning that I gave them
  Is the warning that has succored
    Ten thousand watchful ships.

  Ah, had they used the lead!
  Ah, had they tacked instead
  Of standing blindly onward
    Without a watch for me!
  They would have heard me tolling;
  They would have seen me rolling;
  And have had a chance to weather
    And gain the open sea.

  For I mark a dreaded danger
  To the coaster and the stranger,
  For my friend below is silent
    And shows no foamy chain.
  Not like the sunken ledge;
  Not like the reefs that wedge
  The surges from the undergrip
    And hurl them out again.

  For the reef it warns the ship
  By the frothing and the snowing
  Of its rocky underlip;
    For it shows its broken teeth,
  And it bares the bone beneath,
  And roars sometimes in anger,
    And it cries sometimes in grief.

  But this sluggish and this sucking spread of sand
  It is dead to ear and eye;
  And its very bounds defy
  The laws that keep in order
    The stout and stable land.

  It changes every storm;
  And I never know its form--
  I who gird and guard it
    With my constant clanging bell--
  It scarcely gives me hold
  For my anchor in its mold;
  And we shift and change together
    With each mighty, moving swell.

  But I rob it of its prey,
  For the ships have time to stay,
  When the wind takes up my music
    And bears it out to sea;
  But when the Easters roar
  And drive upon the shore
  My loudest cry of warning
    Is tossed and lost a-lee.

  Then, then I cry in anger,
  And the clanging and the clangor
  Shake and shock the bars
    Of my tossing, toiling cage;
  And I curse the wind and sea,
  And the chain that's under me
  Strains its links and surges
    With the transports of my rage.

  For I know I cannot save them;
  And the shoal that thinks to grave them--
  That will feed its thousand acres
    On their oaken frames and sides--
  It seems to mound its spread,
  It seems to lift its head,
  As though to make more deadly
    The tangle of its tides.

  In the snow, in the fog,
  When the sharpest eyes are blind;
  When the ocean
  Has scarce motion,
  And the wind
  Has forsaken;
  When my power of speech is taken,
  And I sit in silent pain;
  When I toil and toil in vain
  To force the larum note
  From the muscles of my throat,
  And it only breathes a toll
  That dies upon the shoal;
  And I strive and I writhe
  With the pain of action palsied
    By a force beyond control.
  When I cannot see or hear them;
  When I cannot warn or cheer them;
  And only know that they are there
    By the throbbing of my soul.

  For I know that they will blame me;
  For I know that they will name me
  With the bitterest of curses
    For the silence of my note,
  And I stoop and pray the sea
  To lend its aid to me;
  But it mocks me with a ripple
    That scarcely wets my float.

  And then I hear them calling,
  As slowly, slowly crawling
  They come working in from seaward
    With their whistles crying _where_?
  And I try to answer back
    That I'm lying in the track;
  But the loudest cry I make them
    Is a thread upon the air.

  Just a thing
    Without a soul,
  Doing its duty on the shoal;
    Just a bell
  That sea and swell
    In their fury, in their play,
  Set a throbbing,
    And a sobbing;
  By their very madness robbing--
    By their rage and rush defeating,
  By their hate and hurry cheating--
    Ocean of its prey.


  Like a tide that runs increasing,
    Bearing ships to port again,
  There's a tide that brings unceasing
    Pleasures to my restless brain.

  When at night I sit and swinging
    Idly to a strain of thought,
  Then it flows, resistless, bringing
    Countless tales with pleasure fraught.

  And it seems as though the olden
    Stories of the mystic sea
  Came like ships to bear their golden,
    Precious cargoes unto me.

  For I hail with deep emotion
    All those gray and ghostly forms,
  Phantoms of the shoreless ocean
    That is swept by constant storms.

  And I see from mist-enshrouded,
    Ancient, half-forgotten tales
  Galleons rise, and memory clouded,
    Pass with faint and formless sails.

  Others come, the tall and splendid
    Monarchs of the oaken side,
  Who, with master arms, contended
    For the empire of the tide.

  One by one they pass in glory--
    Stately shapes that led the van--
  Builders of the ocean's story,
    Noblest gift of man to man.

  And not less the worn and shattered,
    Drifting, find my port at last.
  All the stranded, stove, and battered
    Victims of the wave and blast,

  They are mine by right of capture:
    Buccaneer and ship of plate;
  And I search their holds with rapture
    Till the night grows cold and late;

  Till the moon, high-prowed and dipping,
    Like a ship of ancient worth,
  Leaves her cloudy port and slipping,
    Spins her wake across the earth.

  And the wind, to peace consenting,
    Breathes a hymn above the land;
  And the ocean, half repenting,
    Kneels in prayer along the sand.


  For the tide runs in and the tide runs out,
    And the women they talk and wait,
  For hope has a soul that is built of doubt,
    And our ships are ofttimes late.

  And the tide runs up and the tide runs down,
    And the drift goes floating past;
  A message it bears to the waiting town
    In form of a broken mast.

  Look! no seaweed yellows its shattered ends!
    No shell-fish whiten its girth!
  'Tis a message, they cry, old Ocean sends
    To those they have left on earth!

  And the tide runs up and the tide runs down,
    And the sea reclaims its toll;
  But the hopes that live in that stricken town
    Are those hopes that have no soul.


  Who saw the ship going down to the sea
    With her topsails sheeted home, and her spanker
  Swelling like a course, foam along the lee,
    And the crew on the tackle of the anchor?

  Who saw her running off from the land,
    Wind blowing strong, steering true for the light-ship,
  But went away wishing he might command
    Some future day such a tall, such a tight ship?

  Came she never back again to that port?
    Long did they wait, watching out at eve and morn.
  Last was she seen hove-to with canvas short
    By an eastward bounder scudding past the Horn.

  Who saw her sink that midnight in the storm?
    Where does she lie, rig-tangled and hull-broken?
  Sails she, perhaps, a ghostly, gliding form,
    That silent sea where ships are never spoken?


  Rushing along on a narrow reach,
    Our rival under the lee,
  The wind falls foul of the weather leach,
    And the jib flaps fretfully.
  The skipper casts a glance along,
    And handles his wheel to meet--
  Then sings in the voice of a stormy song,
    "All hands get on that sheet!"

  Yo ha! Yo ho! Then give her a spill,
    With a rattle of blocks abaft.
  Yo ha! Yo ho! Come down with a will
    And bring the main-sheet aft.

  Rolling the foam up over the rail
    She smokes along and flings
  A spurt of spray in the curving sail,
    And plunges and rolls and springs;
  For a wild, wet spot is the scuppers' sweep,
    As we stand to our knees along--
  It's a foot to make and a foot to keep
    As we surge to the bullie's song.

  Yo ha! Yo ho! Then give her a spill
    With a rattle of blocks abaft.
  Yo ha! Yo ho! Come down with a will
    And bring the main-sheet aft.

  Muscle and mind are a winning pair
    With a lively plank below,
  That whether the wind be foul or fair
    Will pick up her heels and go;
  For old hemp and hands are shipmates long--
    There's work whenever they meet--
  So here's to a pull that's steady and strong,
    When all hands get on the sheet.

  Yo ha! Yo ho! Then give her a spill
    With a rattle of blocks abaft.
  Yo ha! Yo ho! Come down with a will
    And bring the main-sheet aft.


  The scent of the soil is strong on the breeze,
    The gulls are many and shrill,
  And over the crest of the cresting seas
    Is floating a rosy hill;
  And right at the base of this filmy shape,
    Just clear of the weather shroud,
  Say, is it ship, or is it a cape,
    Or a hard spot in the cloud?
  But hark! from aloft where the seaman swings,
    And points with an eager hand,
  Then fore and aft the glad cry rings--
    Land, ho, land!


  Her sails are strong and yellow as the sand,
    Her spars are tall and supple as the pine,
    And, like the bounty of a generous mine,
  Sun-touched, her brasses flash on every hand.
  Her sheer takes beauty from a golden band,
    Which, sweeping aft, is taught to twist and twine
    Into a scroll, and badge of quaint design
  Hang on her quarters. Insolent and grand
    She drives. Her stem rings loudly as it throws
  The hissing sapphire into foamy waves,
    While on her weather bends the copper glows
  In burnished splendor. Rolling down she laves
    Her high black sides until the scupper flows,
  Then pushing out her shapely bow she braves
    The next tall sea, and, leaping, onward goes.


  Where Glory dwells a hundred years,
    That spot becomes a shrine,
  The very soil she trod appears
    To bear the touch divine;
  The rusted gun, the shattered blade,
    Are kept with sacred hand,
  And Honor bows before the shade
    That fought to save the land.

  Then why neglect--why give to rot
    This victor of the flood?
  Is she less holy than the spot
    That drank a hero's blood?
  Has she no plume to wing a thought--
    No spark to fire a mind?
  In names like her's such deeds are wrought
    As glorify mankind.

  And they, whose mighty banner fell
    Before her lightning's blast,
  Their victor rides the harbor swell
    Unshorn of yard and mast;
  And Glory gilds her like a sun,
    When, steaming thro' the wave,
  With dipping flag and rapid gun,
    The brave salute the brave.

  Then give ours back, the sail, the spar--
    Go let her broadside roar!
  A gun for every glit'ring star
    Her conquering ensign bore.
  To show ye have not held in vain
    The heritage she kept,
  Oh, let her image grace again
    The sea she proudly swept!


  The wind from East to South has shifted,
  The sea's gone down and the clouds are rifted,
  And broad on the larboard bow are seen
  A full-rigged ship and a brigantine,
  With a topsail schooner in between--
                    All bound to London Town.

  The ship with a golden freight is freighted,
  The old brigantine with coal is weighted,
  The schooner's a slippery privateer,
  With roguish rig and a saucy sheer--
  Her cargo is guns and hearts of cheer--
                    All bound to London Town.

  A Frenchman out of old Brest is cruising,
  "A chance," says he, "there's no refusing.
  I will drive that privateer away;
  The ship and the brig will be my prey,
  For we don't meet prizes every day--
                    All bound to London Town."

  Then, crowding sail, on the wind he hurried;
  The ship and the brig they worried and scurried.
  The privateer, with her canvas short,
  Just showed a muzzle at every port,
  For she'd a crew of the fighting sort--
                    When bound to London Town.

  The Frenchman tacked the weather gauge after;
  The privateer cut the sea abaft her;
  Before she had time to ease a turn
  They drove a broadside into her stern,
  For fighting's a trade one's apt to learn--
                    When bound to London Town.

  Then side by side with their guns they pounded,
  Till catching a puff the schooner rounded,
  And ere they had way to do the like,
  She laid them aboard with blade and pike,
  So what could the Brestman do but strike--
                    And go to London Town?

  The wind from East to the South has shifted,
  The sea's gone down and the clouds are rifted,
  And broad on the larboard bow are seen
  A privateer and a brigantine,
  With a captured Frenchman in between--
                    All bound to London Town.


  When the old moon hangs to the cloud's gray tail
    And the stars play in and out;
  When the East grows red and the West looks pale
    And the wind goes knocking about;

  When over the edge of the shapeless coast,
    Where the horizon bites the cloud,
  The rack of the rain stalks in like a ghost
    And a sail blows through its shroud--

  When the morn is such, of the noon beware!
    For this calm's a stormy feint:
  A reef in the sail is better than prayer,
    For a snug ship needs no saint.


  Oh, the wind, the wind,
  And the white wake behind;
  And the land
  Of yellow sand,
  Looming like a band
  Of gold along the rim;
  And the laughter of the sea,
  And the sense of mystery,
  In the dim
  Stretch of lee,
  Where the haze
  In the blaze
  Of heat seems to meet
  The sky.
  Oh, the happy sails that fly
  To the east, to the south,
  And the light-house at the mouth
  Of the bay
  With its gray
  Granite spire
  Bold against the higher
  Lift o' green,
  And a smoky tug-boat's trail
  Flaunting like a tail
  Of stormy cloud,
  And a steamer in between
  With her paddles whirring round.
  Oh, a day upon the Sound,
  With the wind, the wind,
  Coming out behind,
  And the feeling of content
  That is lent
  To the mind,
  When the sailing breeze is fair,
  And your only thought or care
  Is to keep
  The sails asleep,
  And run,
  Until the sun
  Drops in the West--
  Then rest is best.


  There's many a ship with taller mast,
    There's many of squarer yard,
  There's many a one that sails as fast
    And many that roll as hard;
  With decks as white, with paint as bright,
    With hull as staunch and sound;
  But never ship that steers so light
    As the ship that's homeward bound!

  _Then give her a spoke, and keep her west,
    Hurrah, for the world is round!
  And here's to the ship that steers the best--
    Hurrah for the homeward bound!_

  There's many a port in distant land
    And many a splendid sight,
  Where turret slim and palace grand
    Rise skyward tall and white;
  Where castles rear, and far and near
    Shines many a golden dome;
  But never sight that's half so dear
    As the dear old port at home.

  _Then give her a spoke, and keep her west,
    Hurrah for a breeze astern!
  And here's to the port we love the best--
    The port where the twin-lights burn!_

  There's many a maid of fashion rare
    In warm and palmy lands,
  With sea-deep eyes and night-black hair
    And brown and shapely hands;
  With lips as red as ever led
    The heart of a man to roam,
  But never one we'd take instead
    Of the girl that waits at home.

  _Then give her a spoke and keep her west,
    Hurrah for a wake of foam!
  And here's to the girl we love the best--
    The girl that we leave at home._


  By the sea I sit and dream
    Of things that have passed, and now
  Are fading as fades the gleam
    Of sail on the ocean's brow,
  And I hear that song again
    She sang to the world before
  Men had crossed her glit'ring plain
    To die on the further shore.

  'Tis a song that, like the wind
    In a stormy counterpart,
  Rouses and rolls the restless mind,
    Till it breaks against the heart--
  Till it hurls its foam amain
    On the reefs which gird that lee--
  And the heart is swept again
    By that yearning for the sea.

  Ah, the sea it sings that song
    Whenever the moon is full--
  Whenever the wind is strong,
    And the tides are bountiful--
  And it throws a spell o'er one
    That my heart cannot withstand,
  So clearly do I foresee
    That I shall not die on land.



  When ship met ship in olden days,
    With battle banners flaunting,
  From stem to stern the cannon's blaze
    A fiery challenge vaunting--
  Then man fought man, as brave men should,
    To keep those walls of native wood.


  When broadsides roaring swept the deck,
    And crews were madly cheering;
  When sail and spar were shot to wreck,
    And ships were swiftly nearing;
  Then men faced death, as brave men should,
    Behind their walls of native wood.


  When face to face and hand to hand--
    When boarders' blades were flashing;
  When bloody pikes made desperate stand,
    And pistol balls were crashing--
  Then man fought man, as brave men should,
    To keep those walls of native wood.


  When valiant arms prevailed at last,
    The foe for quarter crying,
  The dying seaman eyed the mast,
    And cheered his colors flying--
  For men met death, as brave men should,
    Behind their walls of native wood.


  As slow our boat the water thro'
    Is stealing on the breeze,
  The curving sky a tender blue,
    A deeper blue the seas;
  We mark whereon the western edge
    A band of coast is seen,
  Where juts the cape and slopes the ledge,
    A port is shut between.

  On either side a sudden rise
    Of black and broken rock
  Thrusts out an arm that well defies
    The frantic ocean's shock;
  And from its point the sunken reef
    Runs out a mile or more,
  Where many a ship has come to grief
    When breaking breakers roar.

  Long, long ago, in sudden wrath
    A storm burst on this land;
  It caught a fleet within its path--
    An admiral in command.
  For three black days they fought the gale,
    Then one by one they wore--
  And reft of spar and stripped of sail
    Went smashing on that shore.

  Where red and rough the land-slip beach
    Is touched by tiny waves--
  Beyond the winter breaker's reach
    They dug their shallow graves;
  And with a prayer that half expressed
    The sorrow that they knew,
  They laid the admiral there to rest
    Surrounded by his crew.

  But, ah, to-day is sweet--and lo,
    The ocean is at rest,
  Save for a breathing low and slow
    Of wind across its breast.
  Far out beyond the cloudy forms
    Are anchored on the edge--
  It is no time to talk of storms,
    Of wrecks upon the ledge.


  Wind happy ships, that rise and make
    Across the gaping bay,
  To dance like bubbles in the wake
    Of westward flying day.

  So quick they rise, so swift they flow,
    So bright their topsails gleam,
  They seem to come, and come and go
    Like joy-thoughts in a dream.

  Wind happy ships, in constant flight
    Across the sloping main,
  That thro' the dark and thro' the light
    Sail on and on again.

  A port ye have, I know not where--
    'Tis far beyond my world--
  But pray some day may find you there
    With all your canvas furled.


  My carrack rides the wave below,
    The castle glooms above--
  "Now who will sail the sea with me,
    To find the man I love?"

  Three pilots tall sit in the hall,
    And drink my father's ale--
  "Now one of three must go with me,
    This ship of mine to sail."

  Deep, deep they quaffed, and quaffing,
    Struck the board with tankard chine--
  "Now in what port, to East or West,
    Dwells this true love of thine?"

  "I seek no port to East or West,
    But down beyond the rim,
  By following far the falling star,
    My ship will come to him.

  "He rules a land of surfless shores,
    Of deep enchanted bays;
  Where time is twice as long again,
    And half the nights are days;

  "Where dreams are dreamt with open eyes;
    Where love forbears to change;
  And all that's new is old and sweet,
    And all that's old is strange."

  Loud, loud they laughed, and laughing,
    Blew the foam from bearded lips
  As blows the gale the whiter foam
    From the bows of plunging ships.

  Then up and spake the youngest one--
    And laughter seamed his cheek--
  "There is no port beyond the rim,
    Such as the port you seek.

  "The sea is wide, and isles may hide
    Unknown to pilot's eye;
  But this, methink, lies on the brink,
    When glows the ev'ning sky:

  "A vapory shore that fades before
    The swift-advancing stars;
  Where rides the moon on blue lagoon
    Embayed by golden bars."

  He ceased; and the boisterous laughter
    Rose rumbling thro' the hall.
  It swept like a gale among the mail,
  And the banners shook like shivered sail,
    As it rolled from wall to wall.

  Then up and spake the second one:
    "I fear not wind nor wave;
  But this soft clime of twice-long time
    Must lie beyond the grave.

  "No seaman's skill, no pilot's art,
    May find that port, I ween,
  For God alone doth read the chart
    Of that dark sea between.

  "And though I serve my Lord and King
    With head, and heart, and hand,
  I will not make, for woman's sake,
    A voyage to find that land!"

  They laughed, but they laughed less lightly,
    As though they felt their breath,
  And cheered the jest to free the breast
    From ugly thoughts of death.

  The maiden stepp'd three paces back,
    But nothing did she say--
  She turned her eyes upon the west,
  She signed the cross upon her breast,
    Then bent her knee to pray.

  Dear heart, but it was beautiful
    To hear that maiden's prayer!
  So strong of faith, so rich with love--
  It seem'd as though the sun above
    Slipp'd down to drink its share.

  And the saint on the window painted
    Looked down on her bended head,
  As a father who lingers watching
    Soft breathed above the dead--

  Looked down from the glowing casement,
    From the sun-lit crimson glass--
  Then followed a murmur of whispered prayer,
  And a silence descended unaware,
    Like the silence of the mass.

  Then up she rose like one refreshed,
    Who bendeth o'er a stream
  And drinketh deep, and in her eyes
  There shone the light that mocks the wise
    And maketh doubt a dream.

  Then up she rose as one refreshed
    And spake but once again:
  "If you trust your heart above your art
    Our search will not be vain."

  Then stood and spake the oldest one:
    "My eyes are true and keen,
  And I have sailed for four-score years
    Wherever ship hath been.

  "From East to West, from North to South,
    With every wind that blows,
  I know no land beyond the rim
    Where boundless bays repose;

  "Where sleeps the sea along the strand
    Of sky-like slopes that wear
  So rich a light the very night
    Forgets to linger there.

  "It seems to me, if such there be,
    No man could pass it by;
  And I will make, for thy dear sake,
    This voyage before I die.

  "And if I fail that port to hail,
    God fend my soul. Oh, pray!
  The task I take for love's sweet sake
    May wash some sins away."

Transcriber's note

_Underscores_ have indicate italics.

The original book used hyphens inconsistently. The inconsistencies have
been preserved.

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