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With robes of white, that far behind
Seemed to be fluttering in the wind.
It was not shaped in a classic mould,
Not like a Nymph or Goddess of old,
Or Naiad rising from the water,
But modelled from the Master's daughter!
On many a dreary and misty night,
'Twill be seen by the rays of the signal light,
Speeding along through the rain and the dark.
Like a ghost in its snow-white sark,
The pilot of some phantom bark,
Guiding the vessel, in its flight,
By a path none other knows aright!
Behold, at last,
Each tall and tapering mast
Is swung into its place;
Shrouds and stays
Holding it firm and fast !
In the deer-haunted forests of Maine,
When upon mountain and plain
Lay the snow,
They fell,—those lordly pines !
Those grand, majestic pines !
'Mid shouts and cheers
The jaded steers,
Panting beneath the goad,
Dragged down the weary, winding road
Those captive kings so straight and tall,
To be shorn of their streaming hair,
And, naked and bare,
To feel the stress and the strain
Of the wind and the reeling main,
Would remind them for evermore
Of their native forests they should not see again.
The slender, graceful spars
Poise aloft in the air,
And at the mast head,
White, blue, and red,
A flag unrolls the stripes and stars.
Ah! when the wanderer, lonely, friendless,
In foreign harbours shall behold
That flag unrolled,
'Twill be as a friendly hand
Stretched out from his native land,
Filling his heart with memories sweet and endless.
All is finished! and at length
Has come the bridal day
Of beauty and of strength.
To-day the vessel shall be launched !
With fleecy clouds the sky is blanched,
And o'er the bay,
Slowly, in all his splendours dight,
The great sun rises to behold the sight.
The ocean old,
Strong as youth, and as uncontrolled,
Paces restless to and fro,
Up and down the sands of gold.
His beating heart is not at rest;
And far and wide,
With ceaseless flow,
His beard of snow
Heaves with the heaving of his breast.
He waits impatient for his bride.
There she stands,
With her foot upon the sands,
Decked with flags and streamers gay,
In honour of her marriage day,
Her snow-white signals Auttering, blending,
Round her like a veil descending,
Ready to be
The bride of the grey, old sea.
On the deck another bride
Is standing by her lover's side.
Shadows from the flags and shrouds,
Like the shadows cast by clouds,
Broken by many a sunny fleck,
Fall around them on the deck.
The prayer is said,
The service read,
The joyous bridegroom bows his head,
And in tears the good old Master
Shakes the brown hand of his son,
Kisses his daughter's glowing cheek
In silence, for he cannot speak,
And ever faster
Down his own the tears begin to run.
The worthy pastor-
The shepherd of that wandering flock,
That has the ocean for its wold,
That has the vessel for its fold,
Leaping ever from rock to rock-
Spake, with accents mild and clear,
Words of warning, words of cheer,
But tedious to the bridegroom's ear.
He knew the chart,
Of the sailor's heart,
All its pleasures and its griefs,
All its shallows and rocky reefs,
All those secret currents, that flow
With such resistless undertow,
And lift and drift, with terrible force,
Tho will from its moorings and its course.
Therefore he spake, and thus said he:“Like unto ships far off at sea,
Outward or homeward bound, are we.
Before, behind, and all around,
Floats and swings the horizon's bound,
Seems at its distant rim to rise
And climb the crystal wall of the skies,
And then again to turn and sink,
As if we could slide from its outer brink.
Ah! it is not the sea,
It is not the sea that sinks and shelves,
That rock and rise
With endless and uneasy motion,
Now touching the very skies,
Now sinking into the depths of ocean.
Ah! if our souls but poise and swing
Like the compass in its brazen ring,
Ever level, and ever true
To the toil and the task we have to do,
We shall sail securely, and safely reach
The Fortunate Isles, on whose shining beach
The sights we see, and the sounds we hear,
Will be those of joy and not of fear !”
Then the Master,
With a gesture of command,
Waved his hand;
And at the word,
Loud and sudden there was heard,
All around them and below,
The sound of hammers, blow on blow,
Knocking away the shores and spurg.
And see! she stirs !
She starts,—she moves,she seems to feel
The thrill of life along her keel,
And, spurning with her foot the ground,
With one exulting, joyous bound,
She leaps into the ocean's arms !
And lo! from the assembled crowd
There rose a shout, prolonged and loud,
That to the ocean seemed to say,-
“ Take her, O bridegroom, old and grey,
Take her to thy protecting arms,
With all her youth and all her charms !"
How beautiful she is! How fair
She lies within those arms that press
Her form with many a soft caress
Of tenderness and watchful care !
Sail forth into the sea, O ship!
Through wind and wave, right onward steer!
The moistened eye, the trembling lip,
Are not the signs of doubt or fear.
Sail forth into the sea of life,
O gentle, loving, trusting wife,
And safe from all adversity
Upon the bosom of that sea
Thy comings and thy goings be!
For gentleness and love and trust
Prevail o'er angry wave and gust;
And in the wreck of noble lives
Something immortal still survives !
Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State !
Sail on, O UNION, strong and great!
Humanity, with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
We know what Master laid thy keel,
What Workmen wrought thy ribs of steel,
Who made each mast, and sail, and rope,
What anvils rang, what hammers beat,
In what a forge and what a heat
Were shaped the anchors of thy hope!
Fear not each sudden sound and shock,
'Tis of the wave and not the rock;
'Tis but the flapping of the sail,
And not a rent made by the gale!
In spite of rock and tempest's roar,
In spite of false lights on the shore,
Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea!
Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee,
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
Our faith triumphant o'er our tears,
Are all with thee,-are all with thee!
The twilight is sad and cloudy, | And a woman's waving shadow
The wind blows wild and free, Is passing to and fro,
And like the wings of sea-birds Now rising to the ceiling,
Flash the white caps of the sea. Now bowing and bending low. .
But in the fisherman's cottage
What tale do the roaring ocean,
There shines a ruddier light,
And the night-wind, bleak and wild, And a little face at the window As they beat at the crazy casement, Peers out into the night.
Tell to that little child ? Close, close it is pressed to the window, And why do the roaring ocean, As if those childish eyes
And the night-wind, wild and bleak, Were looking into the darkness, As they beat at the heart of the mother, To see some form arise.
Drive the colour from her cheek?
THE FIRE OF DRIFT-WOOD.
We sat within the farm-house old, The very tones in which we spake
Whose windows, looking o'er the bay, Had something strange, I could but Gave to the sea-breeze, damp and cold,
mark ; An easy entrance, night and day. The leaves of memory seemed to make
A mournful rustling in the dark.
Not far away we saw the port, -
The strange, old-fashioned, silent Oft died the words upon our lips,
| As suddenly, from out the fire The light-house, the dismantled fort, – Built of the wreck of stranded ships,
The wooden houses, quaint and brown. The flames would leap and then expire. We sat and talked until the night, And, as their splendour flashed and failed,
Descending, filled the little room; We thought of wrecks upon the Our faces faded from the sight,
main,Our voices only broke the gloom. Of ships dismasted, that were hailed
And sent no answer back again. We spake of many a vanished scene,
Of what we once had thought and said, The windows, rattling in their frames, Of what had been, and might have The ocean, roaring up the beach, been,
The gusty blast, - the bickering flames, And who was changed, and who was All mingled vaguely in our speech; dead ;
Until they made themselves a part And all that fills the hearts of friends, I Of fancies floating through the brain,
When first they feel, with secret pain, The long-lost ventures of the heart, Their lives thenceforth have separate That send no answers back again.
ends, And never can be one again;
O names that glowed ! O hearts that
yearned ! The first light swerving of the heart, They were indeed too much akin,
That words are powerless to express, The drift-wood fire without that burned, And leave it still unsaid in part,
The thoughts that burned and glowed Or say it in too great excess.