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SOUTHWARD with fleet of ice
Sail'd the corsair Death;
Wild and fast blew the blast,
And the east wind was his breath.
His lordly ships of ice
Glisten'd in the sun;
On each side, like pennons white,
Flashing crystal streamlets run.
His sails of white sea-mist
Dripp’d with silver rain ;
But where he pass'd there were cast
Leaden shadows o'er the Main.
Eastward from Campobello
Sir Humphrey Gilbert sail'd;
Three days or more seaward he bore,
Then, alas ! the land-wind fail'd.
Alas! the land-wind fail'd,
And ice-cold grew the night;
And never more, on sea or shore,
Should Sir Humphrey see the light.
The Book was in his hand :
“Do not fear! Heaven is as near,”
He said, “ by water as by land !”
In the first watch of the night,
Without a signal's sound,
Out of the sea, mysteriously,
The fleet of Death rose all around.
The moon and the evening star
Were hanging in the shrouds;
Every mast, as it pass’d,
Seem'd to rake the passing clouds.
* Uncle of Sir W. Raleigh. He was wrecked on his return from an unsuccessful attempt to form one of the earliest settlements in America.
They grappled with their prize,
At midnight black and cold !
As of a rock was the shock;
Heavily the ground-swell rolld.
Southward, through day and dark,
They drift in close embrace,
With mist and rain, to the Spanish Main,
Yet there seems no change of place.
Southward, for ever southward,
They drift through dark and day;
And like a dream, in the Gulf Stream
Sinking, vanish all away.
'Twas twilight, and the sunless day went down
Over the waste of waters, like a veil
Which, if withdrawn, would but disclose the frown
Of one whose hate is mask'd but to assail.
Thus to their hopeless eyes the night was shown,
And grimly darkled o'er the faces pale, And the dim desolate : twelve
days had Fear Been their familiar, and now Death was here.
Then rose from sea to sky the wild farewell —
Then shriek’d the timid, and stood still the brave;
Then some leap'd overboard with dreadful yell,
As eager to anticipate their grave;
And the sea yawn’d around her like a hell,
And down she sucks with her the whirling wave,
Like one who grapples with his enemy,
And strives to strangle him before he dies.
And first one universal shriek there rush'd,
Louder than the loud ocean, like a crash
Of echoing thunder ; and then all husl’d,
Save the wild wind and the rernorseless dash
Of billows; but at intervals there gush’d,
Accompanied with a convulsive splash,
A solitary shriek, the bubbling cry
Of some strong swimmer in his agony.
There were two fathers in this ghastly crew,
And with them their two sons, of whom the one Was more robust and hardy to the view;
But he died early; and when he was gone, His nearest messmate told his sire, who threw
One glance on him, and said, “Heaven's will be donc ! I can do nothing, and he saw him thrown Into the deep without a tear or groan.
The other father had a weaklier child,
Of a soft cheek, and aspect delicate ;
But the boy bore up long, and with a mild
And patient spirit held aloft his fate;
Little he said, and now and then a smile,
As if to win a part from off the weight
He saw increasing on his father's heart,
With the deep deadly thought that they must part.
And o'er him bent his sire, and never raised?
eyes from off his face, but wiped the foam From his pale lips, and ever on him gazed;
And when the wislı’d-for showers at length did come, And the boy's eyes, which the dull film half glazed,
Brighten'd, and for a moment seemed to roam, He squeezed from out a rag some drops of rain Into his dying child's mouth; but in vain !
The boy expired—the father held the clay,
And look'd upon it long; and when at last Death left no doubt, and the dead burden lay
Stiff on his heart, and pulse and hope were past, Ho watch'd it wistfully, until away,
'Twas borne by the rude wave wherein 'twas cast; Then he himself sank down all dumb and shivering, And gave no sign of life, save his limbs quivering.
THERE is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore ;
There is society where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar;
I love not man the less, but nature more,
From these our interviews, from which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the universe, and feel
What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.
Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean-roll !
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain ;
Man marks the earth with ruin-his control
Stops with the shore ; upon the watery plain
The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain
A shadow of man's ravage, save his own,
When, for a moment, like a drop of rain,
He sinks into thy depthis with bubbling groan
Without a grave, unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown.
The armaments which thunder-strike the walls
Of rock-built cities, bidding nations quake,
And monarchs tremble in their capitals;
The oak leviathans, whose huge ribs make
Their clay creator the vain title take
Of lord of thee, and arbiter of war :
These are thy toys, and, as the snowy flake,
They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar
Alike the Armada's pride, or spoils of Trafalgar.
Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee
Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, what are they?
Thy waters wasted them while they were free,
And many a tyrant since; their shores obey
The stranger, slave, or savage ; their decay
Has dried up realms to deserts : not so thou:
Unchangeable do thy wild waves play.
Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow :
Such as creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now.
And I have loved thee, Ocean ! and my joy
Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be
Borne, like thy bubbles, onward ;
from a boy I wanton'd with thy breakers—they to me
Were a delight; and if the freshening sea
Made them a terror—'twas a pleasing fear;
For I was as it were a child of thee,
And trusted to thy billows far and near,
And laid my hand upon thy mane--as I do here.
HERE it comes sparkling,
And there it lies darkling;
Here smoking and frothing,
Its tumult and wrath in,
It hastens along, conflicting, strong,
Now striking and raging,
As if a war waging,
Its caverns and rocks among.
Rising and leaping,
Sinking and creeping,
Swelling and flinging,
Showering and springing,
Eddying and whisking,
Spouting and frisking,
Twining and twisting,
Around and around,
With endless rebound;
Smiting and fighting,
A sight to delight in;
Dizzing and deafening the ear with its sound.
Reeding and speeding,
And shocking and rocking,
And darting and parting:
And threading and spreading,
And whizzing and hissing,
And dripping and skipping,
And whitening and brightening,
And quivering and shivering,
And hitting and splitting,
And shining and twining,
And rattling and battling,
And shaking and quaking,