Page images
PDF
EPUB

The moistened eye, the trembling lip,
Are not the signs of doubt or fear.

Sail forth into the sea of life,
O gentle, loving, trusting wife,
And safe from all adversity
Upon the bosom of that sea
Thy comings and thy goings be!
For gentleness and love and trust
Prevail o'er angry wave and gust;
And in the wreck of noble lives
Something immortal still survives !

Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State !
Sail on, O UNION, strong and great!
Humanity, with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
We know what Master laid thy keel,
What Workmen wrought thy ribs of steel,
Who made each mast, and sail, and rope,
What anvils rang, what hammers beat,
In what a forge and what a heat
Were shaped the anchors of thy hope !
Fear not each sudden sound and shock,
'Tis of the wave and not the rock;
'Tis but the flapping of the sail,
And not a rent made by the gale!
In spite of rock and tempest's roar,
In spite of false lights on the shore,
Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea !
Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee,
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
Our faith triumphant o'er our fears,
Are all with thee,-are all with thee !

TWILIGHT.
The twilight is sad and cloudy,

The wind blows wild and free,
And like the wings of sea-birds

Flash the white caps of the sea.
But in the fisherman's cottage

There shines a ruddier light,
And a little face at the window

Peers out into the night.
Close, close it is pressed to the window,

As if those childish eyes
Were looking into the darkness,

To see some form arise.
And a woman's waving shadow

Is passing to and fro,
Now rising to the ceiling,

Now bowing and bending low.
What tale do the roaring ocean,

And the night-wind, bleak and wild,
As they beat at the crazy casement,

Tell to that little child ?
And why do the roaring ocean,

And the night-wind, wild and bleak,
As they beat at the heart of the mother,

Drive the colour from her cheek?

THE FIRE OF DRIFT-WOOD. We sat within the farm-house old,

Whose windows, looking o'er the bay, Gave to the sea-breeze, damp and cold,

An easy entrance, night and day,

Not far away we saw the port

The strange, old-fashioned, silent town,The lighthouse, the dismantled fort,

The wooden houses, quaint and brown. We sat and talked until the night,

Descending, filled the little room; Our faces faded from the sight,

Our voices only broke the gloom. We spake of many a vanished scene,

Of what we once had thought and said, Of what had been, and might have been,

And who was changed, and who was dead; And all that fills the hearts of friends,

When first they feel, with secret pain, Their lives thenceforth have separate ends,

And never can be one again;
The first light swerving of the heart,

That words are powerless to express,
And leave it still unsaid in part,

Or say it in too great excess. The very tones in which we spake

Had something strange, I could but mark: The leaves of memory seemed to make

A mournful rustling in the dark. Oft died the words upon our lips,

As suddenly, from out the fire Built of the wreck of stranded ships,

The flames would leap and then expire. And, as their splendour flashed and failed,

We thought of wrecks upon the main,Of ships dismasted, that were hailed

And sent no answer back again.

The windows, rattling in their frames,

The ocean, roaring up the beach,The gusty blast,—the bickering flames,

All mingled vaguely in our speech; Until they made themselves a part

Of fancies floating through the brain,The long-lost ventures of the heart,

That send no answers back again.
O flames that glowed ! O hearts that yearned !

They were indeed too much akin,
The drift-wood fire without that burned,

The thoughts that burned and glowed within.

THE LIGHTHOUSE. The rocky ledge runs far into the sea,

And on its outer point, some miles away, The Lighthouse lifts its massive masonry,

A pillar of fire by night, of cloud by day. Even at this distance I can see the tides,

Upheaving, break unheard along its base, A speechless wrath, that rises and subsides

In the white lip and tremor of the face. And as the evening darkens, lo! how bright,

Through the deep purple of the twilight air, Beams forth the sudden radiance of its light

With strange, unearthly splendour in its glare ! Not one alone ; from each projecting cape

And perilous reef along the ocean's verge, Starts into life a dim, gigantic shape,

Holding its lantern o'er the restless surge.

Like the great giant Christopher, it stands

Upon the brink of the tempestuous wave, Wading far out among the rocks and sands,

The night-o'ertaken mariner to save.

And the great ships sail outward and return,

Bending and bowing o'er the billowy swells, And ever joyful, as they see it burn,

They wave their silent welcomes and farewells.

They come forth from the darkness, and their sails

Gleam for a moment only in the blaze, And eager faces, as the light unveils,

Gaze at the tower, and vanish while they gaze.

The mariner remembers when a child,

On his first voyage, he saw it fade and sink; And when, returning from adventures wild,

He saw it rise again o'er ocean's brink.

Steadfast, serene, immovable, the same,

Year after year, through all the silent night, Burns on for evermore that quenchless flame,

Shines on that inextinguishable light!

It sees the ocean to its bosom clasp

The rocks and sea-sand with the kiss of peace; It sees the wild winds lift it in their grasp,

And hold it up, and shake it like a fleece.

The startled waves leap over it; the storm

Smites it with all the scourges of the rain, And steadily against its solid form

Press the great shoulders of the hurricane.

« PreviousContinue »