The Book of the Rose

by Charles G.D. Roberts


 

THE STRANDED SHIP


 

Far up the lonely strand the storm had lifted her.
And now along her keel the merry tides make stir
No more. The running waves that sparkled at her prow
Seethe to the chains and sing no more with laughter now.
No more the clean sea-furrow follows her. No more
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To the hum of her gallant tackle the hale Nor'westers roar.
No more her bulwarks journey. For the only boon they crave
Is the guerdon of all good ships and true, the boon of a deep-sea grave.
     Take me out, sink me deep in the green profound,
     To sway with the long weed, swing with the drowned,
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     Where the change of the soft tide makes no sound,
     Far below the keels of the outward bound.


No more she mounts the circles from Fundy to the Horn,
From Cuba to the Cape runs down the tropic morn,
Explores the Vast Uncharted where great bergs ride in ranks,
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Nor shouts a broad "Ahoy" to the dories on the Banks.
No more she races freights to Zanzibar and back,
Nor creeps where the fog lies blind along the liners' track,
No more she dares the cyclone's disastrous core of calm
To greet across the dropping wave the amber isles of palm.
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     Take me out, sink me deep in the green profound,
     To sway with the long weed, swing with the drowned,
     Where the change of the soft tide makes no sound,
     Far below the keels of the outward bound.


Amid her trafficking peers, the wind-wise, journeyed ships,
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At the black wharves no more, nor at the weedy slips,
She comes to port with cargo from many a storied clime.
No more to the rough-throat chantey her windlass creaks in time.
No more she loads for London with spices from Ceylon,—
With white spruce deals and wheat and apples from St. John.
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No more from Pernambuco with cotton-bales,—no more
With hides from Buenos Ayres she clears for Baltimore.
     Take me out, sink me deep in the green profound,
     To sway with the long weed, swing with the drowned,
     Where the change of the soft tide makes no sound,
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     Far below the keels of the outward bound.

Wan with the slow vicissitudes of wind and rain and sun
How grieves her deck for the sailors whose hearty brawls are done!
Only the wandering gull brings word of the open wave,
With shrill scream at her taffrail deriding her alien grave.

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Around the keel that raced the dolphin and the shark
Only the sand-wren twitters from barren dawn till dark;
And all the long blank noon the blank sand chafes and mars
The prow once swift to follow the lure of the dancing stars.
     Take me out, sink me deep in the green profound,
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     To sway with the long weed, swing with the drowned,
     Where the change of the soft tide makes no sound,
     Far below the keels of the outward bound.


And when the winds are low, and when the tides are still,
And the round moon rises inland over the naked hill,
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And o'er her parching seams the dry cloud-shadows pass,
And dry along the land-rim lie the shadows of thin grass,
Then aches her soul with longing to launch and sink away
Where the fine silts lift and settle, the sea-things drift and stray,
To make the port of Last Desire, and slumber with her peers
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In the tide-wash rocking softly through the unnumbered years.
     Take me out, sink me deep in the green profound,
     To sway with the long weed, swing with the drowned,
     Where the change of the soft tide makes no sound,
     Far below the keels of the outward bound.
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