An Arctic Quest
O proudly name their names who bravely sail
To seek brave lost in Arctic snows and seas!
Bring money and bring ships, and on strong knees
Pray prayers so strong that not one word can fail
To pierce God's listening heart!
Rigid and pale,
The lost men's bodies, waiting, drift and freeze;
Yet shall their solemn dead lips tell to these
Who find them secrets mighty to prevail
On farther, darker, icier seas.
Alone, unhelped, unprayed-for. Perishing
For years in realms of more than Arctic snow,
My heart has lingered.
Will the poor dead thing
Be sign to quide past bitter flood and floe,
To open sea, some strong heart triumphing?
1 When night falls on the earth, the sea
2 From east to west lies twinkling bright
3 With shining beams from beacons high
4 Which flash afar a friendly light.
5 The sailor's eyes, like eyes in prayer,
6 Turn unto them for guiding ray:
7 If storms obscure their radiance,
8 The great ships helpless grope their way.
9 When night falls on the earth, the sky
10 Looks like a wide, a boundless main.
11 Who knows what voyagers sail there?
12 Who names the ports they seek and gain?
13 Are not the stars like beacons set
14 To guide the argosies that go
15 From universe to universe,
16 Our little world above, below?--
17 On their great errands solemn bent,
18 In their vast journeys unaware
19 Of our small planet's name or place
20 Revolving in the lower air.
21 O thought too vast! O thought too glad!
22 An awe most rapturous it stirs.
23 From world to world God's beacons shine:
24 God means to save his mariners!
The Fir-Tree And The Brook
The Fir-Tree looked on stars, but loved the Brook!
"O silver-voiced! if thou wouldst wait,
My love can bravely woo." All smiles forsook
The brook's white face. "Too late!
Too late! I go to wed the sea.
I know not if my love would curse or bless thee.
I may not, dare not, tarry to caress thee,
Oh, do not follow me!
The Fir-Tree moaned and moaned till spring;
Then laughed in manic joy to feel
Early one day, the woodsmen of the King
Sign him with a sign of burning steel,
The first to fall. "Now flee
Thy swiftest, Brook! Thy love may curse or bless me,
I care not, if but once thou dost caress me,
O Brook, I follow thee!
All torn and bruised with mark of adze and chain,
Hurled down the dizzy slide of sand,
Tossed by great waves in ecstsy of pain,
And rudely thrown at last to land,
The Fir-Tree heard: "Oh, see
With what fierce love it is I must caress thee!
I warned thee I might curse, and never bless thee,
Why didst thou follow me?
All stately set with spar and brace and rope,
The Fir-Tree stood and sailed and sailed.
In wildest storm when all the ship lost hope,
The Fir-Tree never shook nor quailed,
Nor ceased from saying, "Free
Art thou, O Brook! But once thou hast caressed me;
For life, for death, thy love has cursed or blessed me;
Behold, I follow thee!"
Lost in a night, and no man left to tell,
Crushed in the giant iceberg's play,
The ship went down without a song, a knell.
Still drifts the Fir-Tree night and day,
Still moans along the sea
A voice: "O Fir-Tree! thus must I possess thee;
Eternally, brave love, will I caress thee,
Dead for the love of me!"