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Posts Tagged ‘hurricane’

“Speak! speak! thou fearful guest!
Who, with thy hollow breast
Still in rude armor drest,
Comest to daunt me!
Wrapt not in eastern balms,
But with thy fleshless palms
Stretched, as if asking alms,
Why dost thou haunt me?”

Then from those cavernous eyes
Pale flashes seemed to rise,
As when the northern skies
Gleam in December;
And, like the water’s flow
Under December’s snow,
Came a dull voice of woe
From the heart’s chamber.

“I was a Viking old!
My deeds, though manifold,
No Skald in song has told,
No Saga taught thee!
Take heed, that in thy verse
Thou dost the tale rehearse,
Else drear a dead man’s curse;
For this I sought thee.

“Far in the Northern Land,
By the wild Baltic’s strand,
I, with my childish hand,
Tamed the gerfalcon;
And, with my skates fast-bound,
Skimmed the half-frozen Sound,
That the poor whimpering hound
Trembled to walk on.

“Oft to his frozen lair
Tracked I the grisly bear,
While from my path the hare
Fled like a shadow;
Oft through the forest dark
Followed the were-wolf’s bark,
Until the soaring lark
Sang from the meadow.

“But when I older grew,
Joining a corsair’s crew,
O’er the dark sea flew
With the marauders.
Wild was the life we led;
Many the sould that sped,
Many the hearts that bled,
By our stern orders.

“Manu a wassail bout
Wore the long Winter out;
Often our midnight shout
Set the cocks crowing;
As we the Berserk’s tale
Measured in cups of ale,
Draining the oaken pail,
Filled to o’erflowing.

“Once as I told in glee
Tales of the stormy sea,
Soft eyes did gaze on me,
Burning yet tender;
And as the white stars shine
On the dark Norway pine,
On that dark heart of mine
Fell their soft splendor.

“I wooed the blue-eyed maid,
Yielding, yet half afraid,
And in the forests shade
Our vows were plighted.
Under its loosened vest
Fluttered her little breast,
Like birds within their nest
By the hawk frighted.

“Bright in her father’s hall
Shields gleamed upon the wall,
Loud sang the minstrels all,
Chanting his glory;
When of old Hildebrand
I asked his daughter’s hand,
Mute did the minstrels stand
To hear my story.

“While the brown ale he quaffed,
Loud then the champion laughed,
And as the wind-gusts waft
The sea-foam brightly,
So the loud laugh of scorn,
Out of those lips unshorn,
From the deep drinking-horn
Blew the foam lightly.

“She was a Prince’s child,
I but a Viking wild,
And though she blushed and smiled,
I was discarded!
Should not the dove so white
Follow the sea-mew’s flight,
Why did they leave that night
Her nest unguarded?

“Scarce had I put to sea,
Bearing the maid with me,
Fairest of all was she
Among the Norsemen!
When on the white sea-strand,
Waving his arm├Ęd hand,
Saw we old Hildebrand,
With twenty horsemen.

“Then launched they to the blast,
Bent like a reed each mast,
Yet we were gaining fast,
When the wind failed us;
And with a sudden flaw
Came round the gusty Skaw,
So that our foe we saw
Laugh as he hailed us.

“And as to catch the gale
Round veered the flapping sail,
‘Death!’ was the helmsman’s hail,
‘Death without quarter!’
Mid-ships with iron keel
Struck we her ribs of steel;
Down her black hulk did reel
Through the black water!

“As with his wings aslant,
Sails the fierce cororant,
Seeking some rocky haunt,
With its prey laden,–
So toward the open main,
Beating to sea again,
Through the wild hurricane,
Bore I the maiden.

“Three weeks we westward bore,
And when the storm was o’er,
Cloud-like we saw the shore
Stretching to leeward;
There for my lady’s bower
Built there the lofty tower,
Which, to this very hour
Stands looking seaward.

“There lived we many years;
Time dried the maiden’s tears;
She had forgot her fears;
She was a mother;
Death closed her mild blue eyes,
Under that tower she lies;
Ne’er shall the sun arise
On such another!

“Still grew my bosom then,
Still as a stagnant fen!
Hateful to me were men,
The sunlight hateful!
In the vast forest here,
Clad in my warlike gear,
Fell I upon my spear,
Oh, death was greatful!

“Thus, seamed with my scars,
Bursting these prison bars,
Up to its native stars
My soul ascended!
There from the flowing bowl
Deep drinks the warrior’s soul,
Skoal! to the Northland! skoal!”
Thus the tale ended.

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Thus said The Lord in the Vault above the Cherubim
Calling to the Angels and the Souls in their degree:
“Lo! Earth has passed away
On the smoke of Judgment Day.
That Our word may be established shall We gather up the sea?”

Loud sang the souls of the jolly, jolly mariners:
“Plague upon the hurricane that made us furl and flee!
But the war is done between us,
In the deep the Lord hath seen us —
Our bones we’ll leave the barracout’, and God may sink the sea!”

Then said the soul of Judas that betrayed Him:
“Lord, hast Thou forgotten Thy covenant with me?
How once a year I go
To cool me on the floe?
And Ye take my day of mercy if Ye take away the sea!”

Then said the soul of the Angel of the Off-shore Wind:
(He that bits the thunder when the bull-mouthed breakers flee):
“I have watch and ward to keep
O’er Thy wonders on the deep,
And Ye take mine honour from me if Ye take away the sea!”

Loud sang the souls of the jolly, jolly mariners:
“Nay, but we were angry, and a hasty folk are we!
If we worked the ship together
Till she foundered in foul weather,
Are we babes that we should clamour for a vengeance on the sea?”

Then said the souls of the slaves that men threw overboard:
“Kennelled in the picaroon a weary band were we;
But Thy arm was strong to save,
And it touched us on the wave,
And we drowsed the long tides idle till Thy Trumpets tore the sea.”

Then cried the soul of the stout Apostle Paul to God:
“Once we frapped a ship, and she laboured woundily.
There were fourteen score of these,
And they blessed Thee on their knees,
When they learned Thy Grace and Glory under Malta by the sea!”

Loud sang the souls of the jolly, jolly mariners,
Plucking at their harps, and they plucked unhandily:
“Our thumbs are rough and tarred,
And the tune is something hard —
May we lift a Deep-sea Chantey such as seamen use at sea?”

Then said the souls of the gentlemen-adventurers —
Fettered wrist to bar all for red iniquity:
“Ho, we revel in our chains
O’er the sorrow that was Spain’s;
Heave or sink it, leave or drink it, we were masters of the sea!”

Up spake the soul of a gray Gothavn ‘speckshioner —
(He that led the flinching in the fleets of fair Dundee):
“Oh, the ice-blink white and near,
And the bowhead breaching clear!
Will Ye whelm them all for wantonness that wallow in the sea?”

Loud sang the souls of the jolly, jolly mariners,
Crying: “Under Heaven, here is neither lead nor lee!
Must we sing for evermore
On the windless, glassy floor?
Take back your golden fiddles and we’ll beat to open sea!”

Then stooped the Lord, and He called the good sea up to Him,
And ‘stablished his borders unto all eternity,
That such as have no pleasure
For to praise the Lord by measure,
They may enter into galleons and serve Him on the sea.

Sun, wind, and cloud shall fail not from the face of it,
Stinging, ringing spindrift, nor the fulmar flying free;
And the ships shall go abroad
To the Glory of the Lord
Who heard the silly sailor-folk and gave them back their sea!

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