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His sails of white sea-mist
Dripped with silver rain;
But where he passed there Were cast
Leaden shadows o’er the main.
Eastward from Campobello
Sir Humphrey Gilbert sailed;
Three days or more seaward he bore,
Then, alas! the land-wind failed.
Alas! the land-wind failed,
And ice- cold grew the night;
And never more, on sea or shore,
Should Sir Humphrey see the light.
He sat upon the deck,
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 passed,
Seemed to rake the passing clouds.
They grappled with their prize ,
At midnight black and cold!
As of arock was the shock;
Heavily the ground - swell rolled.
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.
'l‘rm 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, 10! how bright, Through the deep purple of the twilight air .
Beams forth the sudden radiance of its light With strange, unearthly splendor 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 ,
\Vading 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.
The sea-bird wheeling round it, with the din \
Of wings and winds and solitary cries,
Blinded and maddened by the light within,
Dashes himself against the glare, and dies.
A new Prometheus, chained upon the rock,
Still grasping in his hand the fire of Jove,
It does not hear the cry, nor heed the hock,
But hails the mariner with words of love.
“Sail on!” it says, “sail on, ye stately ships!
~ And with your floating bridge the ocean span;
Be mine to guard this light from all eclipse ,
Be yours to bring man nearer unto man!”
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 light-house, -- 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 ,
Ofwhat 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 slight 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.
And , as their splendor flashed and failed,
“'e 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, mating up the beach, —
The gusty blast, — the bickering flames, ——
All mingled vaguely in our speech;
L'ntil they made themselves a part
Of fancies floating through the brain, —The long-lost ventures of the heart,
That send no answers back again.