I Where the wings of a sunny Dome expand I saw a Banner in gladsome air— Starry, like Berenice's Hair— Afloat in broadened bravery there; With undulating long-drawn flow, As rolled Brazilian billows go Voluminously o'er the Line. The Land reposed in peace below; The children in their glee Were folded to the exulting heart Of young Maternity. II Later, and it streamed in fight When tempest mingled with the fray, And over the spear-point of the shaft I saw the ambiguous lightning play. Valor with Valor strove, and died: Fierce was Despair, and cruel was Pride; And the lorn Mother speechless stood, Pale at the fury of her brood. III Yet later, and the silk did wind Her fair cold for; Little availed the shining shroud, Though ruddy in hue, to cheer or warm A watcher looked upon her low, and said— She sleeps, but sleeps, she is not dead. But in that sleep contortion showed The terror of the vision there— A silent vision unavowed, Revealing earth's foundation bare, And Gorgon in her hidden place. It was a thing of fear to see So foul a dream upon so fair a face, And the dreamer lying in that starry shroud. IV But from the trance she sudden broke— The trance, or death into promoted life; At her feet a shivered yoke, And in her aspect turned to heaven No trace of passion or of strife— A clear calm look. It spake of pain, But such as purifies from stain— Sharp pangs that never come again— And triumph repressed by knowledge meet, Power delicate, and hope grown wise, And youth matured for age's seat— Law on her brow and empire in her eyes. So she, with graver air and lifted flag; While the shadow, chased by light, Fled along the far-brawn height, And left her on the crag.
During a tempest encountered homeward-bound from the Mediterranean, a grizzled petty-officer, one of the two captains of the forecastle, dying at night in his hammock, swung in the sick-bay under the tiered gun-decks of the British Dreadnought, 98, wandering in his mind, though with glimpses of sanity, and starting up at whiles, sings by snatches his good-bye and last injunctions to two messmates, his watchers, one of whom fans the fevered tar with the flap of his old sou’-wester.
Some names and phrases, with here and there a line, or part of one; these, in his aberration, wrested into incoherency from their original connection and import, he involuntarily derives, as he does the measure, from a famous old sea-ditty, whose cadences, long rife, and now humming in the collapsing brain, attune the last flutterings of distempered thought:—
Farewell and adieu to you noble hearties,—
Farewell and adieu to you ladies of Spain,
For I’ve received orders for to sail for the Deadman,
But hope with the grand fleet to see you again.
I have hove my ship to, with main-top-sail aback, boys;
I have hove my ship to, for to strike soundings clear—
The black scud a’flying; but by God’s blessing dam’ me,
Right up the Channel for the Deadman I’ll steer.
I have worried through the waters that are callèd the Doldrums,
And growled at Sargasso that clogs while ye grope—
Blast my eyes, but the light-ship is hid by the mist, lads:—
Flying Dutchman—oddsbobbs—off the Cape of Good Hope!
But what’s this I feel that is fanning my cheek, Matt?
The white goney’s wing?—how she rolls!—’tis the Cape!
Give my kit to the mess, Jock, for kin none is mine, none;
And tell Holy Joe to avast with the crape.
Dead reckoning, says Joe, it w’ont do to go by;
But they doused all the glims, Matt, in sky t’other night.
Dead reckoning is good for to sail for the Deadman;
And Tom Deadlight he thinks it may reckon near right.
The signal!—it streams for the grand fleet to anchor.
The captains—the trumpets—the hullabaloo!
Stand by for blue-blazes, and mind your shank-painters,
For the Lord High Admiral, he’s squinting at you!
But give me my tot, Matt, before I roll over;
Jock, let’s have your flipper, it’s good for to feel;
And don’t sew me up without baccy in mouth, boys,
And don’t blubber like lubbers when I turn up my keel.