Anna Lydia Ward.

Surf and wave: the sea as sung by the poets online

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And the wrack drave on in haste.

But twenty days he waited, and more,

Pacing the strand alone,
Or ever he set his manly foot

On the rock, the Eddystone.

Then he and the sea began their strife,
And worked with power and might :

Whatever the man reared up by day,
The sea broke down by night.


In fine weather and foul weather

The rock his arts did flout,
Through the long days and the short days,

Till all that year ran out.

Now March was gone, came April in,

And a sea-fog settled down ;
And forth sailed he on a glassy sea,

He sailed from Plymouth town.

With men and stores he put to sea,

As he was wont to do :
They showed in the fog like ghosts full faint,

A ghostly craft and crew.

And the sea-fog lay and waxed alway,

For a long eight days, and more :
" God help our men ! " quoth the women then;

u For they bide long from shore."

A Scottish schooner made the port,

The thirteenth day, at e'en :
"As I am a man," the captain cried,

" A strange sight I have seen.

" And a strange sound heard, my masters all,

At sea, in the fog and the rain,
Like shipwrights' hammers tapping low,

Then loud, then low again.

"And a stately house one instant showed

Through a rift on the vessel's lea :
What manner of creatures may be those

That build upon the sea?"


Then sighed the folk, "The Lord be praised ! "
And they flocked to the shore amain :

All over the Hoe, that livelong night,
Many stood out in the rain.

It ceased ; and the red sun reared his head,

And the rolling fog did flee ;
And, lo ! in the offing faint and far

Winstanley's house at sea.

In fair weather with mirth and cheer

The stately tower uprose :
In foul weather, with hunger and cold

They were content to close,

Till up the stair Win Stanley went

To fire the wick afar ;
And Plymouth in the silent night

Looked out, and saw her star.

Winstanley set his foot ashore :

Said he, " My work is done ;
I hold it strong to last as long

As aught beneath the sun.

" But if it fell, then this were well,

That I should with it fall ;
Since, for my part, I have built my heart

In the courses of its wall.

" Ay ! I were fain long to remain,

Watch in my tower to keep,
And tend my light in the stormiest night

That ever did move the deep."


With that Winstanley went his way,

And left the rock renowned ;
And summer and winter his pilot star

Hung bright o'er Plymouth Sound.

But it fell out, fell out at last,

That he would put to sea
To scan once more his lighthouse-tower

On the rock o' destiny.

And the winds broke, and the storm broke,

And wrecks came plunging in :
None in the town that night lay down

Or sleep or rest to win.

And when the dawn, the dull gray dawn,

Broke on the trembling town,
And men looked south to the harbor-mouth,

The lighthouse-tower was down,

Down in the deep, where he doth sleep

Who made it shine afar,
And then, in the night that drowned its light,

Set, with his pilot star.




OVER the sea our galleys went,
"With cleaving prows, in order brave,
To a speeding wind and a bounding wave,
A gallant armament :


Each bark built out of a forest-tree,

Left leafy and rough as first it grew,
And nailed all over the gaping sides,
Within and without, with black-bull hides,
Seethed in fat, and supplied in flame,
To bear the playful billows' game :
So each good ship was rude to see,
Rude and bare to the outward view ;

But each upbore a stately tent,
Where cedar- pales in scented row
Kept out the flakes of the dancing brine ;
And an awning drooped the mast below,
In fold on fold of the purple fine,
That neither noontide, nor star-shine,
Nor moonlight cold, which maketh mad,

Might pierce the regal tenement.
When the sun dawned, oh ! gay and glad
We set the sail, and plied the oar ;
But, when the night- wind blew like breath,
For joy of one day's voyage more
We sang together on the wide sea,
Like men at peace on a peaceful shore.
Each sail was loosed to the wind so free,
Each helm made sure by the twilight star ;
And, in a sleep as calm as death,
We, the strangers from afar,

Lay stretched along, each weary crew
In a circle round its wondrous tent,
Whence gleamed soft light, and curled rich scent,

And, with light and perfume, music too :
So the stars wheeled round, and the darkness past ;
And at morn we started beside the mast ;
And still each ship was sailing fast.


One morn the land appeared a speck
Dim trembling betwixt sea and sky :
"Avoid it," cried our pilot, "check

The shout, restrain the longing eye ! "
But the heaving sea was black behind
For many a night and many a day,
And land, though but a rock, drew nigh :
So we broke the cedar-pales away,
Let the purple awning flap in the wind,

And a statue bright was on every deck.
We shouted, every man of us,
And steered right into the harbor thus,
With pomp and paean glorious.

An hundred shapes of lucid stone !

All day we built a shrine for each,
A shrine of rock for every one ;
Nor paused we, till in the westering sun

We sate together on the beach
To sing, because our task was done ;
When, lo ! what shouts and merry songs !
What laughter all the distance stirs !
What raft comes loaded with its throngs
Of gentle islanders?
" The isles are just at hand," they cried :

" Like cloudlets, faint at even sleeping,
Our temple-gates are opened wide,

Our olive-groves thick shade are keeping
For the lucid shapes you bring," they cried.
Oh ! then we awoke with sudden start
From our deep dream : we knew, too late,
How bare the rock, how desolate,
To which we had flung our precious freight :


Yet we called out, " Depart !
Our gifts, once given, must here abide ;

Our work is done : we .have no heart
To mar our work, though vain," we cried.




ON the white sea-sand,
By the side of the land,
I wandered and sang,
With my harp in my hand.

I sang of the sea
With its mystery ;

Of the ships which pass
Unmindful of me.

But a bird drew near,
A bird so dear,

White-winged and fearless,
And sang in my ear.

" O singer ! wait
For thy coming fate,

Which riseth to meet thee
With sails elate.

" From hope's eclipse,
From voiceless lips,

There is sent thee one
Of love's sweet ships.

LARS' SONG. Page 74.


" Already the light
Of a morning bright,

At the rim of the world,
Shows a sail so white ! "

And now will I stand
With my harp in my hand,

And sing to my ship
Till she comes to land.



" TTE'S a rare man,

XI Our parson ; half a head above us all."
"That's a rare gift, and notable," said I.

" Ay, sir ; and when he was a younger man

He went out in the lifeboat very oft,

Before ' The Grace of Sunderland ' was wrecked.

He's never been his own man since that hour ;

For there were thirty men aboard of her,

A-nigh as close as you are now to me,

And ne'er a one was saved.

They're lying now,

With two small children, in a row. The church
And yard are full of seamen's graves, and few
Have any names.

" She bumped upon the reef :
Our parson, my young son, and several more,
Were lashed together with a two-inch rope,


And crept along to her, their mates ashore
Ready to haul them in. The gale was high ;
The sea \vas all a boiling, seething froth ;
And God Almighty's guns were going off,
And the land trembled.

" When she took the ground,
She went to pieces like a lock of hay
Tossed from a pitchfork. Ere it came to that,
The captain reeled on deck with two small things,
One in each arm, his little lad and lass.
Their hair was long, and blew before his face,
Or else we thought he had been saved : he fell,
But held them fast. The crew, poor luckless souls !
The breakers licked them off; and some were crushed,
Some swallowed in the yeast, some flung up dead,
The dear breath beaten out of them : not one
Jumped from the wreck upon the reef to catch
The hands that strained to reach, but tumbled back
With eyes wide open. But the captain lay
And clung the only man alive. They prayed,
' For God's sake, captain, throw the children here ! '
1 Throw them ! ' our parson cried ; and then she struck.
And he threw one, a pretty two-years' child ;
But the gale dashed him on the slippery verge,
And down he went. They say they heard him cry.

" Then he rose up and took the other one ;

And all our men reached out their hungry arms,

And cried out, ' Throw her, throw her ! ' And he did.

He threw her right against the parson's breast ;

An4 all at once a sea broke over them ;

And they that saw it from the shore have said


It struck the wreck, and piecemeal scattered it,
Just as a woman might the lump of salt
That 'twixt her hands into the kneading-pan
She breaks, and crumbles on her rising bread.

" We hauled our men in. Two of them were dead
The sea had beaten them, their heads hung down.
Our parson's arms were empty, for the wave
Had torn away the pretty, pretty lamb :
We often see him stand beside her grave ;
But 'twas no fault of his, no fault of his."



QAUNTERING hither on listless wings,
O Careless vagabond of the sea,
Little thou heedest the surf that sings,
The bar that thunders, the shale that rings
Give me to keep thy company.

Little thou hast, old friend, that's new ;

Storms and wrecks are old things to thee :
Sick am I of these changes too ;
Little to care for, little to rue,

I on the shore, and thou on the sea.

All of thy wanderings, far and near,

Bring thee at last to shore and me ;
All of my journeyings end them here :
This our tether must be our cheer,
I on the shore, and thou on the sea.


Lazily rocking on ocean's breast,

Something in common, old friend, have we :
Thou on the shingle seekest thy nest,
I to the waters look for rest,

I on the shore, and thou on the sea.



TJENEATH the low-hung night-cloud
J3 That raked her splintering mast
The good ship settled slowly,
The cruel leak gained fast.

Over the awful ocean

Her signal-guns pealed out.

Dear God ! was that thy answer
From the horror round about?

A voice came down the wild wind,
" Ho ! ship ahoy ! " its cry :

" Our stout ' Three Bells ' of Glasgow
Shall lay till daylight by."

Hour after hour crept slowly ;

Yet on the heaving swells
Tossed up and down the ship-lights,

The lights of the " Three Bells."

And ship to ship made signals ;

Man answered back to man ;
While oft, to cheer and hearten,

The "Three Bells " nearer ran.


And the captain from her taffrail

Sent down his hopeful cry.
"Take heart ! Hold on ! " he shouted :

"The 'Three Bells ' shall lay by."

All night across the waters

The tossing lights shone clear ;
All night from reeling taffrail

The "Three Bells " sent her cheer.

And when the dreary watches

Of storm and darkness passed,
Just as the wreck lurched under,

All souls were saved at last.

Sail on, " Three Bells," forever,

In grateful memory sail !
Ring on, " Three Bells " of rescue,

Above the wave and gale !

Type of the love eternal,

Repeat the Master's cry,
As tossing through our darkness

The lights of God draw nigh.



THREE fishers went sailing down to the west,
Away to the west as the sun went down :
Each thought of the woman who loved him the best ;
And the children stood watching them out of the town :


For men must work, and women must weep,
And there's little to earn, and many to keep,
Though the harbor-bar be moaning.

Three wives sat up in the lighthouse-tower,

And they trimmed the lamps as the sun went down ;
And they looked at the squall, and they looked at the


While the night-rack came rolling up ragged and brown :
But men must work, and women must weep,
Though storms be sudden, and waters deep,
And the harbor-bar be moaning.

Three corpses lie out on the shining sands,

In the morning gleam as the tide went down ;
And the women are weeping, and wringing their hands,
For those who will never come home to the town :
For men must work, and women must weep,
And the sooner it's over, the sooner to sleep,
And good-by to the bar and its moaning.



r I A HE sea is a jovial comrade ;
_1 He laughs wherever he goes ;
His merriment shines in the dimpling lines
That wrinkle his hale repose ;
He lays himself down at the feet of the sun,
And shakes all over with glee ;
And the broad-backed billows fall faint on the shore
In the mirth of the mighty sea.


But the wind is sad and restless,

And cursed with an inward pain :

You may hark as you will, by valley or hill,

But you hear him still complain.

He wails on the barren mountains,

And shrieks on the watery sea ;

He sobs in the cedar, and moans in the pine,

And shudders all over the aspen-tree.

Welcome are both their voices ;

And I know not which is best,

The laughter that slips from the ocean's lips,

Or the comfortless wind's unrest.

There's a pang in all rejoicing,

A joy in the heart of pain ;

And the wind that saddens, the sea that gladdens,

Are singing the selfsame strain.




OH, had we some bright little isle of our own,
In a blue summer ocean far off and alone,
Where a leaf never dies in the still blooming bowers,
And the bee banquets on through a whole year of flowers ;
Where the sun loves to pause

With so fond a delay
That the night only draws
A thin veil o'er the day ;

Where simply to feel that we breathe, that we live,
Is worth the best joy that life elsewhere can give !


There, with souls ever ardent and pure as the clime,
We should love as they loved in the first golden time :
The glow of the sunshine, the balm of the air,
Would steal to our hearts, and make all summer there.

With affection as free

From decline as the bowers,

And with hope, like the bee,
Living always on flowers,
Our life should resemble a long day of light,
And our death come on holy and calm as the night.




E are at sea, at sea, at sea,
Still floating onward dreamily.

The isles and capes fall far behind,
Blown backward by the salty wind.

The sky her sapphire chalice turns
Upon the deep, which gleams and burns

With sunlight : in the midst we ride,
A fleck upon the sheeny tide.

Millions of sparkles leap and dance
Above the blinding, blue expanse ;

And on the round horizon-rim

The ghosts of vessels dawn and dim.


Beneath our bended glances break
The splendors of the restless wake.

We watch the iris-shedding wheel ;
We hear the swift melodious keel,

And wonder, when with placid eye
Some strange sea- monarch plunges by

Between his marshalled waves, that smile,
And doff their white-plumed caps the while.


We are at sea, at sea, at sea,
Still floating onward dreamily.

What is this marvel that is wrought
Within our silent haunts of thought?

We hail no ships of roseate shells ;
We catch no mermaid's bridal bells ;

No siren's song with yearning stirs
The souls of drifting mariners.

The world, alas ! hath waxed too wise
To trust her cradle lullabies,

And nevermore her feet may stand
In moonlight glades of fairyland.

Yet on the main whose gray heart beat
Beneath the westward-sailing fleet


That bore Columbus, 'neath the sun
That shone on builded Babylon,

Ourselves unto ourselves grow strange,
Made conscious of our mortal change.

We are the dream, and only we,
'Twixt the enduring sky and sea.



THEY went to sea in a sieve, they did ;
In a sieve they went to sea :
In spite of all their friends could say*
On a winter's morn, on a stormy day,

In a sieve they went to sea.
And when the sieve turned round and round,
And every one cried, " You'll all be drowned ! "
They called aloud, " Our sieve ain't big :
But we don't care a button ; we don't care a fig ;
In a sieve we'll go to sea ! "
Far and few, far and few,

Are the lands where the Jumblies live :
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue
And they went to sea in a sieve.

They sailed away in a sieve, they did ;

In a sieve they sailed so fast,
With only a beautiful pea-green veil,
Tied with a ribbon, by way of a sail,

To a small tobacco-pipe mast.


And every one said, who saw them go :
" Oh ! won't they be soon upset, you know :
For the sky is dark, and the voyage is long ;
And, happen what may, it's extremely wrong
In a sieve to sail so fast."
Far and few, far and few,

Are the lands where the Jumblies live :
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue ;
And they went to sea in a sieve.


The water it soon came in, it did ;

The water it soon came in :
So, to keep them dry, they wrapped their feet
In a pinky paper, all folded neat ;

And they fastened it down with a pin.
And they passed the night in a crockery-jar,
And each of them said, " How wise we are !
Though the sky be dark, and the voyage be long,
Yet we never can think we were rash or wrong,
While round in our sieve we spin."
Far and few, far and few,

Are the lands where the Jumblies live :
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue ;
And they went to sea in a sieve.


And all night long they sailed away ;

And, when the sun went down,
They whistled and warbled a moony song
To the echoing sound of a coppery gong,

In the shade of the mountains brown.


" O Timballoo ! How happy we are,
When we live in a sieve and crockery-jar !
And all night long, in the moonlight pale,
We sail away, with a pea-green sail,

In the shade of the mountains brown."
Far and few, far and few,

Are the lands where the Jumblies live :
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue ;
And they went to sea in a sieve.


They sailed to the Western Sea, they did,

To a land all covered with trees :
And they bought an owl, and a useful cart,
And a pound of rice, and a cranberry-tart,

And a hive of silvery bees ;

And they bought a pig, and some green jackdaws,
And a lovely monkey with lollipop paws,
And forty bottles of ring-bo-ree,
And no end of Stilton cheese.
Far and few, far and few,

Are the lands where the Jumblies live :
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue ;
And they went to sea in a sieve.


And in twenty years they all came back,

In twenty years or more ;
And every one said, " How tall they've grown !
For they've been to the Lakes and the Terrible Zone,

And the hills of the Chankly Bore."


And they drank their health, and gave them a feast
Of. dumplings made of beautiful yeast;
And every one said, " If we only live,
We, too, will go to sea in a sieve,

To the hills of the Chankly Bore."
Far and few, far and few,

Are the lands where the Jumblies live :
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue ;
And they went to sea in a sieve.

EDWARD LEAR, from " Nonsense Songs''


ONE summer day, when birds flew high,
I saw a child step into the sea :
It glowed and sparkled at her touch,
And softly plashed about her knee.

It held her lightly with its strength ;

It kissed and kissed her silken hair ;
It heaved with tenderness to know

A little child was in its care.

She, gleeful, dipped her pretty arms,
And caught the sparkles in her hands :

I heard her laughter as she soon
Came skipping up the sunny sands.

"Is this the cruel sea?" I thought,
" The merciless, the awful sea ? "

Now hear the answer, soft and true,
That rippled over the beach to me.


"Shall not the sea in the sun be glad
When a child doth come to play?

Had it been in storm-time, what could I,
The sea, but bear her away,

Bear her away on my foaming crest,

Toss her, and hurry her to her rest.

" Be it life or death, God ruleth me ;

And he loveth every soul :
I've an earthly shore and a heavenly shore,

And toward them both I roll ;
Shining and beautiful both are they,
And a little child will go God's way."


THE white reflection of the sloop's great sail
Sleeps trembling on the tide :
In scarlet trim her crew lean o'er the rail,
Lounging on either side.

Pale blue, and streaked with pearl, the waters lie,

And glitter in the heat :
The distance gathers purple bloom where sky

And glimmering coast-line meet.

From the cove's curving rim of sandy gray

The ebbing tide has drained,
Where, mournful, in the dusk of yesterday,

The curlew's voice complained.

Half lost in hot mirage, the sails afar
Lie dreaming, still and white ;

The whits reflection of the sloop's great sail
Sleeps trembling on the tide." Page 88.


No wave breaks, no wind breathes, the peace to mar :
Summer is at its height.

How many thousand summers thus have shone

Across the ocean waste,
Passing in swift succession, one by one,

By the fierce winter chased !

The gray rocks, blushing soft at dawn and eve,

The green leaves at their feet,
The dreaming sails, the crying birds that grieve,

Ever themselves repeat.

And yet how dear, and how forever fair,

Is Nature's friendly face !
And how forever new and sweet and rare

Each old familiar grace !

What matters it that she will sing and smile

When we are dead and still ?
Let us be happy in her beauty while

Our hearts have power to thrill.

Let us rejoice in every moment bright,

Grateful that it is ours ;
Bask in her smiles with ever fresh delight,

And gather all her flowers ;

For presently we part : what will avail

Her rosy fires of dawn,
Her noontide pomps, to us who fade and fail,

Our hands from hers withdrawn ?




England, when with favoring gale
Our gallant ship up channel steered,
And, scudding under easy sail,

The high, blue western land appeared, "
To heave the lead the seaman sprung,
And to the pilot cheerly sung,

" By the deep, nine ! "

But, bearing up to gain the port,

Some well-known object kept in view,

An abbey, tower, an harbor, fort,
Or beacon to the vessel true ;

While oft the lead the seaman flung,

And to the pilot cheerly sung,

" By the mark, seven ! "

And, as the much-loved shore we near,
With transport we behold the roof

Where dwells a friend or partner dear,
Of faith and love a matchless proof.

Once more the lead the seaman flung,

And to the watchful pilot sung,
" Quarter less five ! "

Now to her berth the ship draws nigh ;

We take in sail she feels the tide :
" Stand clear the cable ! " is the cry ;

The anchor's gone ! we safely ride.
The watch is set, and through the night
We hear the seaman with delight

Proclaim, "All's well!"




MY ship comes sailing in from sea,
And I am glad as glad can be.
Oh ! I have kissed my love to-night,
And all life seems one calm delight.

My ship comes in, my ship comes in ;
My ship comes sailing up the sea,
And life is like a dream to me.

The stars look larger than before ;

The moon is silver now. The door

Of paradise seems open wide

As yon church-door for my fair bride.

My ship comes in, my ship comes in ;
My ship comes climbing up the sea,
And land and sea are fair to me.

I know full well in my ship's hold

Lie neither gorgeous silks nor gold ;

But oh ! I know my love loves me,

And ask no more of land or sea.

My ship comes in, my ship comes in ;
My ship has crossed the lonesome sea,
And I am glad as glad can be.



THE master of Weemys has biggit a ship
To saile upon the sea ;
And four and twenty bauld marineres
Doe beare him companie.


They have hoistit sayle and left the land ;

They have saylit mylis three ;
When up there lap the bonnie mermayd,

All in the Norland Sea.

" Oh, whare saile ye," quo' the bonnie mermayd,

" Upon the saut sea faem ? "
" It's we are bound until Norroway :

God send us skaithless hame ! "

" Oh, Norroway is a gay, gay strande,

And a merrie lande, I trowe ;
But never nane shall see Norroway

Gin the mermayd keeps her vowe ! "

Online LibraryAnna Lydia WardSurf and wave: the sea as sung by the poets → online text (page 4 of 28)