Last Songs from Vagabondia

by Bliss Carman and Richard Hovey


 

SEA SONNETS


 

I

 

OUT with the tide—afar, afar, afar,
Where will the wide dark take us, you and me—
The darkness and the tempest and the sea?
How long we waited where the tall ships are,
Disconsolate and safe within the bar!
5
Ocean forever calling us, but we—
God, how we stifled there, nor dared be free
With a sharp knife and night and the wild dare!
But now, the hawser cut, adrift, away—
Mad with escape, what care we to what doom
10
The bitter night may bear us? Lost, alone,
In a vague world of roaring surge astray,
Out with the tide and into the unknown,
Compassed about with rapture and the gloom!

 

II

 

We two, waifs, wide-eyed and without fear,
15
With the dark swirl of life about our prow,
The hollow, heedless swash of year on year
That bears us on and recks not where nor how!
Our skiff is but a feather on the foam,
No mighty galleon strong to meet the storm—
20
An open boat—God’s gift to us for home,
And but each other’s arms to keep us warm!
What port for us to make? Our only star
To steer by is the star of missing sails,
Our only haven where the kelpies are—
25
Yet, you great merchantment with freighted bales,
Rebel and lost and aimless as we go,
We keep a joy your pride can never know.

 

III

 

Moon of my midlight! Moon of the dark sea,
Where like a petrel’s ghost my sloop is driven!
30
Behold, about me and under and over me,
The darkness and the waters and the heaven—
Huge, shapeless monsters as of worlds in birth,
Dragons of Fate, that hold me not in scope—
Bar up my way with fierce, indifferent mirth,
35
And fall in giant frolic on my hope.
Their next mad rush may whelm me in the wave,
The dreaded horror of the sightless deep—
Only thy love, like moonlight, pours to save
My soul from the despairs that lunge and leap.
40
Moon of my night, though hell and death assail,
The tremble of thy light is on my sail.