CANADIAN BALLADS,

AND

OCCASIONAL VERSES.

By Thomas D’Arcy McGee


 

THE SEA CAPTAIN. (11)



I.


The anchor is up and the broad sails are spread,
       The good ship is adrift from the land,
And the sportive spray sprinkles the fair figure-head,
       As if flung from some sea-spirits hand.


II.


The wind pipes aloud thro’ cordage and spars

5

       The sea-boy sings back to the wind,
The day is all sunshine, the night is all stars—
       Was never old Neptune more kind.


III.


But the master he paceth the deck to and fro,
       (Impatient of fortune I ween!)

10

Now his footstep is hurried, now leaden and slow,
       As he mutters his shut lips between. [Page 39]


IV.


And his eye fiercely glares at the blue blessed sky,
       As if all his tormenting lay there:
Now he smiteth his breast as to stifle a sigh,

15

       A sigh that resounds of despair.


V.


’Tis the midwatch of night—still unwearied he stalks
       To and fro in the moonlight so dim;
And unto himself or some phantom he talks,
       While the phantom seems talking to him.

20

VI.


After o’er the waters, an index of light,
       Points the eye to the darkness intense;
Say, whence comes the skiff that entrances his sight—
       What destiny carries it hence?


VII.


There standeth a form where the mast might have stood,

25

       As a sail her scarf catches the breeze—
And the ’kerchief she waves has the color of blood,
       While her girdle hangs loose to her knees. [Page 40]


VIII.


There is sin, there is shame, there is shipwreck of fame,
       In the eye, on the brow of the maid—

30

No need unto him that she should name her name,
       At a glance the whole story is said.


IX.


To the ship’s side she drew in her ghostly canoe,
       For a moment has waited her prey:
In vain shout the crew, to the phantom he flew—

35

       In the darkness they vanish away.


X.


When the Priest heard the tale by the gossips told o’er,
       “Of a truth,”—so he said,—“it may be:
For the sins men imagine they leave upon shore
       Do follow them often to sea.” [Page 41]

40