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He sat upon the deck,
In the first watch of the night,
The fleet of Death rose all around.
The moon and the evening star
Were hanging in the shrouds ;
Seemed to rake the passing clouds
They grappled with their prize,
Heavily the ground-swell rolled.
Southward through day and dark,
Southward, forever southward,
They drift through dark and day ;
THE 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, lo! 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 he tempestuous wave, Wading far out among the rocks and sands,
The night-o'ertaken mariner to save.
And the great ships sail outward and return,
They wave their silent welcomes and farewells.
They come forth from the darkness, and their sails
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;
Steadfast, serene, immovable, the same
Year after year, through all the silent night, Burns on forevermore 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
A new Prometheus, chained upon the rock,
"Sail on!" it says, "sail on, ye stately ships!
THE FIRE OF DRIFT-WOOD.
WE sat within the farm-house old,
Whose windows, looking o'er the bay,
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.
THE FIRE OF DRIFT-WOOD..
We sat and talked until the night,
Our voices only broke the gloom.
We spake of many a vanished scene,
Of what we once had thought and said, Of what 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,
Or say it in too great excess.
The very tones in which we spake
A mournful rustling in the dark.
Oft died the words upon our lips,
And, as their splendor flashed and failed,
We thought of wrecks upon the main,— Of ships dismasted, that were hailed And sent no answer back again.
The windows, rattling in their frames,-
Until they made themselves a part
O flames that glowed! O hearts that yearned!
The thoughts that burned and glowed within.