Page images

We've ratched beyond the Crossets

That tusk the Southern Pole, And dipped our gunnels under

To the dread Agulhas roll.

Beyond all outer charting

We sailed where none have sailed, And saw the land-lights burning

On islands none have hailed; Our hair stood up for wonder,

But, when the night was done, There danced the deep to windward

Blue-empty 'neath the sun!

Strange consorts rode beside us

And brought us evil luck; The witch-fire climbed our channels,

And danced on vane and truck: Till, through the red tornado,

That lashed us nigh to blind, We saw The Dutchman plunging,

Full canvas, head to wind!

We've heard the Midnight Leadsman

That calls the black deep downAy, thrice we've heard The Swimmer,

The Thing that may not drown.

On frozen bunt and gasket

The sleet-cloud drave her hosts, When, manned by more than signed with us,

We passed the Isle o' Ghosts!

And north, amid the hummocks,

A biscuit-toss below, We met the silent shallop

That frighted whalers know; For, down a cruel ice-lane,

That opened as he sped, We saw dead Henry Hudson

Steer, North by West, his dead.

So dealt God's waters with us

Beneath the roaring skies,
So walked His signs and marvels

All naked to our eyes:
But we were heading homeward

With trade to lose or make-
Good Lord, they slipped behind us

In the tailing of our wake!

Let go, let go the anchors;

Now shamed at heart are we To bring so poor a cargo home

That had for gift the sea!

Let go the great bow-anchors

Ah, fools were we and blind-
The worst we baled with utter toil,

The best we left behind!

Coastwise--cross-seas-round the world and back

again, Whither the flaw shall fail us or the Trades

drive down : Plain-sail-storm-saillay your board and tack

againAnd all to bring a cargo up to London Town!

[ocr errors]

LORD, Thou hast made this world below the shad

ow of a dream, An', taught by time, I tak’ it so-exceptin' always

Steam. From coupler-flange to spindle-guide I see Thy

Hand, O God, Predestination in the stride o'yon connectin’-rod. John Calvin might ha' forged the same-enorr

mous, certain, slowAy, wrought it in the furnace-flame—my “Insti

tutio.” I cannot get my sleep to-night; old bones are hard

to please; I'll stand the middle watch up here-alone wi'

God an' these My engines, after ninety days o' race an' rack an'

strain Through all the seas of all Thy world, slam-bang

in' home again.

Slam-bang too much—they knock a wee—the

crosshead-gibs are loose; But thirty thousand mile o' sea has gied them fair

excuse. ... Fine, clear an'dark—a full-draught breeze, wi'

Ushant out o' sight, An' Ferguson relievin' Hay. Old girl, ye'll walk

to-night! His wife's at Plymouth. .. . Seventy-One-Two

-Three since he beganThree turns for Mistress Ferguson. ... an' who's

to blame the man ? There's none at any port for me, by drivin’ fast or

slow, Since Elsie Campbell went to Thee, Lord, thirty

years ago. (The year the Sarah Sands was burned. Oh

roads we used to tread, Fra’ Maryhill to Pollokshaws-fra' Govan to Park

head!) Not but they're ceevil on the Board. Ye'll hear

Sir Kenneth say: Good morrn, McAndrews! Back again ? An'

how's your bilge to-day ?” Miscallin' technicalities but handin' me my



« PreviousContinue »