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Each tall and tapering mast
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 snouts 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 ever more
Of their native forests they should not see again.
And every where
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 1 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 vouth, 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 fluttering, blending,
Round her like a veil descending,
Ready to be
The bride of the gray, 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,
The will from its moorings and its course
Therefore he spake, and thus said he:—
"Like unto ships far off at sea,
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 tiear,
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 spurs.
And see! she stirs!
She starts,—she moveSj—she seems to feel
The thrill of life along her kneel,
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 gray,
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,
Thy comings and thy goings he!
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 roars
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 fears,
Are all with thee,—are all with thee!
THE EVENING STAR.
Just above yon sandy bar,
As the day grows fainter and dimmer, Lonely and lovely, a single star
Lights the air with a dusky glimmer.
Into the ocean faint and far
Falls the trail of its golden splendour, And the gleam of that single star
Is ever refulgent, soft, and tender.
Chrysaor rising out of the sea.
Showed thus glorious and thus emulous, Leaving the arms of Callirrhoe,
For ever tender, soft, and tremulous.
Thus o'er the ocean faint and far
Trailed the gleam of his falchion brightly; Is it a god, or is it a star,
That, entranced, I gaze on nightly!
THE SECRET OF THE SEA.
A H! what pleasant visions haunt me
As I gaze upon the sea! A'l the old romantic legends,
All my dreams, come back to me.
Sails of silk and ropes of sendal,
Such as gleam in ancient lore; And the singing of the sailors,
And the answer from the shore!
Most of all, the Spanish ballad
Haunts me oft, and tarries long, Of the noble Count Arnaldos
And the sailor's mystic song.
Like the long waves on a sea-beach,
Where the sand as silver shines, With a soft, monotonous cadence,
Flow its unrhymed lyric lines;—
Telling how the Count Arnaldos,
With his hawk upon his hand, Saw a fair and stately galley,
Steering onward to the land ;—
How he heard the ancient helmsman
Chant a song so wild and clear, That the sailing sea-bird slowly
Poised upon the mast to hear.
Till his soul was full of longing,
"Helmsman! for the love of heaven,
"Wouldst thou,"—so the helmsman answered,
"Learn the secret of the sea? Only those who brave its dangers
Comprehend its mystery!"
In each sail that skims the horizon,
I behold that stately galley,
Till my soul is full of longing
For the secret of the sea,
Sends a thrilling pulse through me.