LONE Voyager! Thy Ship of Dreams
Spreads its free sail and slips away
Into the distant visioning
That lies behind the end of day.
The restless tide's impatient wave
In from the broad Pacific rolls
And sunset marks a mystic way
To the far-shining Port of Souls.
We, watching on the darkening shore,
Wave you farewell, and strain our eyes
Till that bright speck which is your sail
Is lost in the enfolding skies.
Brave Heart, Sweet Singer! Speed you well
To those dim islands of the blest,
Far--far--and ever farther, till
The end of distance brings you rest!
When As A Lad
WHEN, as a lad, at break of day
I watched the fishers sail away,
My thoughts, like flocking birds, would follow
Across the curving sky's blue hollow,
And on and on--
Into the very heart of dawn!
For long I searched the world--ah, me!
I searched the sky, I searched the sea,
With much of useless grief and rueing
Those winged thoughts of mine pursuing--
So dear were they,
So lovely and so far away!
I seek them still and always must
Until my laggard heart is dust
And I am free to follow, follow,
Across the curving sky's blue hollow,
Those thoughts too fleet
For any save the soul's swift feet!
The Way To Wait
O WHETHER by the lonesome road that lies across the lea
Or whether by the hill that stoops, rock-shadowed, to the sea,
Or by a sail that blows from far, my love returns to me!
No fear is hidden in my heart to make my face less fair,
No tear is hidden in my eye to dim the brightness there--
I wear upon my cheek the rose a happy bride should wear.
For should he come not by the road, and come not by the hill
And come not by the far seaway, yet come he surely will--
Close all the roads of all the world, love's road is open still!
My heart is light with singing (though they pity me my fate
And drop their merry voices as they pass the garden gate)
For love that finds a way to come, can find a way to wait!
The Sea's Withholding
THE ladye's bower faced the sea,
Its casements framed a sea-born day.
She saw the fishers sail away,
And, far and high,
The gulls sweep by
Within the hollow of the sky!
She saw the laggard twilight come
And, chased by rippling wakes of foam,
She saw the fisher fleet come home--
Brown sails a-sheen
Against the green
With shadows creeping in between!
She saw, when it was evening, all
Day's banners stream in crimson rout
Till night's soft finger blurred them out,
And, high and far,
A perfect star
Shone where the keys of heaven are!
'O far and constant star,' she said,
'O passing sail, O passing bird,
O passing day--bring you no word
Of winds that steer
His ship a-near?
Where sails my love that sails not here?
'The days in splendid pageant pass,
In lovely peace the nights go by,
And day and night are sweet; but I--
I cannot say
Lo, the bright day!
Can it be dawn and love away?'
THE wind blows salt from off the sea
And sweet from where the land lies green;
I travel down the great highway
That runs so straight and white between--
I watch the sea-wind strain the sheet,
The land-wind toss the yellow wheat!
Song is my mistress, fickle she,
Yet dear beyond all dearth of speech;
Child of the winds of land and sea
She charms me with the charm of each--
Full soft and sweet she sings and then
She sings wild songs for sailor-men!
No staff I carry in my hand,
No pack I carry on my back,
No foot of earth I call my own,
For castle or for cot I lack--
I travel fast, I travel slow,
And where my mistress bids I go!
My gems, the pearl upon the leaf
At mystic hour of the morn;
My gold, the gold that rims the sea
A moment ere the day is born;
And on my breezy couch o' nights
The stars shine down--my taper lights!
Happy am I that sing of love,
Yet from the thrall of love am free;
Happy am I that sing of pain
And quick forget what pain may be!
I sing of death--and lo! To me
Life is supremest ecstacy!
Tir Nan Og
THE breeze blows out from the land and it seeks the sea,
O and O! that my sail were set and away--
Fast and free on its wings would my sailing be
To the west: to the Tir Nan Og, where the blessed stay!
The darkness stirs, it awakes, it outspreads its arms,
O and O! and the birds in their nests are still,
The red-browed hill bleats low with the lamb's alarms,
And a sound of singing comes from the slipping rill.
My soul is awake alone, all alone in the earth,
O and O! and around is the lonely night.
As with the sun, would my soul go forth to its birth--
O'er the darkling sea, to the west--to the light, to the light!
Do they say, 'Be content with the land of the Innis Fail,
O and O! there is friendship here, there is song.'
But they smile to your face, when you turn they stammer and rail
And the song of the singer has tears and is over long!
A call comes out of the west and it calls a name,
O and O! it is soft, it is far, it is low--
Sweet, so sweet that it touches my soul with a flame
That burns the heart from my breast with the wish to go!
(Translated from the Celtic.)
Down At The Docks
DOWN at the docks--when the smoke clouds lie,
Wind-ript and red, on an angry sky--
Coal-dumps and derricks and piled-up bales,
Tar and the gear of forgotten sails,
Rusted chains and a broken spar
(Yesterday's breath on the things that are)
A lone, black cat and a snappy cur,
Smell of high-tide and of newcut fir,
Smell of low-tide, fish, weed!--I swear
I love every blessed smell that's there--
For, aeons ago when the sea began,
My soul was the soul of a sailorman.
Down at the docks--where the ships come in,
And the endless trails of the sea begin,
Where the shining wake of a steamer's track
Is barred by the tow of the tugboats black,
Where slim yachts dip to the singing spray
And a gay wind whistles the world away--
Here sad ships lie which will sail no more,
But new ships build on the noisy shore,
And always the breath of the wind and tide
Whispers the lure of the sea outside,
Till now and to-morrow and yesterday
Are linked by the spell of the faraway!
Down at the docks--when the morning's new
And the air is gold and the distance blue,
There's a pull at the heart! But best of all
Is to see the sun shrink, red and small,
While the fog steals in (more surely fleet
Than the smacks that run from her white-shod feet)
And clamours of startled calls arise
From bewildered ships that have lost their eyes;
The fog horn bellows its deep-mouthed shout,
The little lights on the shore blur out
And strange, dim shapes pass wistfully
With a secret tide to a secret sea.
Marguerite De Roberval
O THE long days and nights! The days that bring
No sunshine that my shrinking soul can bear,
The nights that soothe not. All the airs of France,
Soft and sun-steeped, that once were breath of life,
Now stir no magic in me. I could weep–
Yet can I never weep–to see the land
That is my land no more! For where the soul
Doth dwell and the heart linger, there
Alone can be the native land, and I have left
Behind me one small spot of barren earth
That is my hold on heav'n!
You bid me tell
My story? That were hard. I have no art
And all my words have long been lost amid
The greater silences. The birds–they knew
My grief, nor did I feel the need of speech
To make my woe articulate to the wind!
If my tale halts, know 'tis the want of words
And not the want of truth.
'Twas long, you say?
Yes, yet at first it seemed not long. We watched
The ship recede, nor vexed them with a prayer.
Was not his arm about me? Did he not
Stoop low to whisper in my tingling ear?
The little Demon-island was our world,
So all the world was ours–no brighter sphere
That swung into our ken in purple heaven
Was half so fair a world! We were content.
Was he not mine? And I (he whispered this)
The only woman on love's continent!
How can I tell my story? Would you care
To hear of those first days? I cannot speak
Of them–they lie asleep so soft within
My heart a word would wake them? I'll not speak that word!
There came at last a golden day
When in my arms I held mine own first-born,
And my new world held three. And then I knew,
Mid joy so great, a passion of despair!
I knew our isle was barren, girt with foam
And torn with awful storm. I knew the cold,
The bitter, cruel cold! My tender babe,
What love could keep him warm? Beside my couch
Pale famine knelt with outstretched, greedy hand,
To snatch my treasure from me. Ah, I knew,
I knew what fear was then!
We fought it back,
That ghost of chill despair. He whom I loved
Fought bravely, as a man must fight who sees
His wife and child defenceless. But I knew–
E'en from the first–the unequal strife would prove
Too long, the fear too keen! It wore his strength
And in his eyes there grew the look of one
Who grapples time, and will not let it go,
Yet feels it slipping, slipping–
Ah, my dear!
I saw you die, and could not help or save–
Knowing myself to be the awful care
That weighed thee to thy grave!
The world held two
Now–one so frail and small, and one made strong
By love and weak by fear. That little life!
It trembled in my arms like some small flame
Of candle in a stealthy draught that blows
And blows again–one never knows from whence,
Yet feareth always– till at last, at last,
A darkness falls! So came the dark to me–
And it was night indeed!
Beside my love
I laid my lovely babe. And all fear fled;
For where joy is there only can fear be.
They fear not who have nothing left to fear!
. . . . .
So that is all my tale. I lived, I live
And shall live on, no doubt. The changeful sky
Is blue in France, and I am young–think you
I am still young! Though joy has come and passed
And I am gazing after with dull eyes!
One day there came a sail. It drew near
And found me on my island, all alone–
That island that had once held all the world–
They succoured me and bought me back again
To sunny France, and here I falter through
This halting tale of mine. And now 'tis told
I pray you speak of it no more!
If I would sleep o' nights my ears must close
To that sad sound of waves upon the beach,
To that sad sound of wind that waileth so!
To visions of the sun upon the sea
And green, grass-covered mounds, bleak, bleak, but still
With early flowers clustering here and there!