A Dead Sea-Gull
LACK-LUSTRE eye, and idle wing,
And smirchèd breast that skims no more,
White as the foam itself, the wave--
Hast thou not even a grave
Upon the dreary shore,
Forlorn, forsaken thing?
Thou whom the deep seas could not drown,
Nor all the elements affright,
Flashing like thought across the main,
Mocking the hurricane,
Screaming with shrill delight
When the great ship went down.
Thee not thy beauty saved, nor mirth,
Nor daring, nor thy humble lot,
One among thousands--in quick haste
Fate clutched thee as she passed;
Dead--how, it matters not:
Corrupting, earth to earth.
And not a league from where it lies
Lie bodies once as free from stain,
And hearts as gay as this sea-bird's,
Whom all the preachers' words
Will ne'er make white again,
Or from the dead to rise.
Rot, pretty bird, in harmless clay:--
We sing too much poetic woes;
Let us be doing while we can:
Blessed the Christian man
Who on life's shore seeks those
Dying of soul decay.
A Dream Of Death
WHERE shall we sail to-day?'--Thus said, methought,
A voice that only could be heard in dreams:
And on we glided without mast or oar,
A wondrous boat upon a wondrous sea.
Sudden, the shore curved inward to a bay,
Broad, calm, with gorgeous sea-weeds waving slow
Beneath the water, like rich thoughts that stir
In the mysterious deep of poets' hearts.
So still, so fair, so rosy in the dawn
Lay that bright bay: yet something seemed to breath,
Or in the air, or from the whispering waves,
Or from that voice, as near as one's own soul,
'There was a wreck last night.' A wreck? then where
The ship, the crew?--The all-entombing sea
On which is writ nor name nor chronicle
Laid itself o'er them with smooth crystal smile.
'Yet was the wreck last night.'. And gazing down
Deep down below the surface, we were ware
Of ghastly faces with their open eyes
Uplooking to the dawn they could not see.
One moved with moving sea-weeds: one lay prone,
The tinted fishes gliding o'er his breast;
One, caught by floating hair, rocked quietly
Upon his reedy cradle, like a child.
'The wreck has been'--said the melodious voice,
'Yet all is peace. The dead, that, while we slept,
Struggled for life, now sleep and fear no storms:
O'er them let us not weep when heaven smiles.'
So we sailed on above the diamond sands,
Bright sea-flowers, and white faces stony calm,
Till the waves bore us to the open main,
And the great sun arose upon the world.
Will Sail Tomorrow
THE good ship lies in the crowded dock,
Fair as a statue, firm as a rock:
Her tall masts piercing the still blue air,
Her funnel glittering white and bare,
Whence the long soft line of vapory smoke
Betwixt sky and sea like a vision broke,
Or slowly o'er the horizon curled
Like a lost hope fled to the other world:
She sails to-morrow,--
Out steps the captain, busy and grave,
With his sailor's footfall, quick and brave,
His hundred thoughts and his thousand cares,
And his steady eye that all things dares:
Though a little smile o'er the kind face dawns
On the loving brute that leaps and fawns,
And a little shadow comes and goes,
As if heart and fancy fled--where, who knows:
He sails to-morrow:
To-morrow the serried line of ships
Will quick close after her as she slips
Into the unknown deep once more:
To-morrow, to-morrow, some on shore
With straining eyes shall desperate yearn--
'This is not parting? return--return!'
Peace, wild-wrung hands! hush, sobbing breath!
Love keepeth its own through life and death;
Though she sails to-morrow--
Sail, stately ship; down Southampton water
Gliding fair as old Nereus' daughter:
Christian ship that for burthen bears
Christians, speeded by Christian prayers;
All kinds of angels follow her track!
Pitiful God, bring the good ship back!
All the souls in her forever keep
Thine, living or dying, awake or asleep:
Then sail to-morrow!
Ship, sail to-morrow!