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The twilight is sad and cloudy,
The wind blows wild and free, And like the wings of sea-birds
Flash the white caps of the sea.
But in the fisherman's cottage
There shines a ruddier light, And a little face at the window
Peers out into the night.
As if those childish eyes
To see some form arise.
And a woman's waving shadow
Is passing to and fro, Now rising to the ceiling,
Now bowing and bending low. What tale do the roaring ocean,
And the night-wind, bleak and will, As they beat at the crazy casement,
Tell to that little child?
And why do the roaring ocean,
And the night-wind, wild and bleak, As they beat at the heart of the mother,
Drive the colour from her cheek?
SIR HUMPHREY GILBERT. SOUTHWARD with fleet of ice
Sailed the corsair Death; Wild and fast blew the blast,
And the east-wind was his breath.
His lordly ships of ice
Glistened in the sun;
Flashing crystal streamlets run.
Dripped with silver rain;
Leaden shadows o'er the main.
Eastward from Campobello
Sir Humphrey Gilbert sailed;8
Then, alas! the land-wind failed.
And ice-cold grew the night;
Should Sir Humphrey see the light.
The Book was in his hand;
He said, “by water as by land !"
In the first watch of the night,
Without a signal's sound,
The fleet of Death rose all around.
The moon and the evening star
Were hanging in the shrouds;
Seemed to rake the passing clouds.
At midnight black and cold!
Heavily the ground-swell rolled.
They drift in close embrace,
Yet there seems no change of place.
They drift through dark and day
Sinking, vanish all away.
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 tremour 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 splendour 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, Wading 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, immoveable, 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 shock,
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!"
THE FIRE OF DRIFT-WOOD. 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, 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,
And never can be one again;
That words are powerless to express,
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. Oft died the words upon our lips,
As suddenly, from out the fire
Euilt of the wreck of stranded ships,
The flames would leap and then expire." And, as their splendour flashed and failed,
We thought of wrecks upon the main,--
And sent no answer back again.
The ocean, roaring up the beach,-
All mingled vaguely in our speech; Until they made themselves a part
Of fancies floating through the brain,-
That send no answers back again.
They were indeed too much akin,
The thoughts that burned and glowed within.
BY THE FIRESIDE.
But one dead lamb is there!
But has one vacant chair!
And mournings for the dead;
Will not be comforted!
Let us be patient! These severe afflictions
Not from the ground arise,
Assume this dark disguise.
Amid these earthly damps,
May be heaven's distant lamps.