That Far River:
Selected Poems of
Theodore Goodridge Roberts

Edited by Martin Ware





III: The Lost Shipmate: Poems of the Sea



 

The City of Winds


Fifty sail in the harbor,
    When the white-caps swagger free—
A fishing-smack in the “Narrows,”
    And a hundred more at sea.                        

And the spoil of the East and the South
5
    Where scented blossoms spill,
Passing the grinding icebergs
    To our town on the windy hill.                        

Wealth of our northern waters,                                                        
    From Torbay ’round to White,
10
Racing in with the fog-rack
    Between the hills and the “Light.”                        

The walls of the City of Winds
    Are battered, and grim and rent;                        
Worried by winds and fires
15
    And fogs that are never spent.                        

The heart of our City of Winds
    Is light ’neath the scars and grime—
Unhurt by the hurrying flame,                                                        
    Or the leisurely hands of time.
20

Strange men go by in the streets
    Bearded from chin to eyes,
And their ships, asleep in the dock
    Are dreaming of other skies.                        

Dreaming of palm-fringed keys
25
    And the smell of the lands they know
And the bluster of winter winds
    In the Gulf of Mexico. [Page 31]                        

Here is a fishing schooner                                                        
    Of Fundy and Bank renown,
30
With a crew from the tide-torn Avon
    And a skipper from Yarmouth town.                        

The brown hills lean and ponder
    O’er harbor and street and square                        
With never a question or answer
35
    For the trafficking people there.
                       
Fifty sail in the harbor,
    Straining to stagger free—
A mail-boat in the “Narrows,”                                                        
    And a blowing of horns at sea.
40

A chiming of bells in the towers—
    The boom of the midday gun,
And the fog-bank thins and rises
    Beneath the joy of the sun.

Ind
.                                                                                         1899, Ind.
 


  The Dead Fisherman

Now let him rest,
Toil-worn hands on nerveless breast.
Fish come into the silver bays,
And red suns go to the west.

But never again with wind and tide
5
Will he pull out from the harbour-side:
Never again will he stoop and toil
On the flakes where the fish are dried.

He knew these wonders—fog and wind;
The lifting dark with fire behind;
10
The slosh of surf in weedy rocks;
The flurries white and blind. [Page 32]

In dread and hunger he sailed and steered.
Famine and cold were the things he feared:
But now he feels no want nor doubt
15
Since the farthest cape was cleared.

Gulls wing over the laughing bay
Where he and his cares toiled yesterday;
And down where his lobster traps are piled
The green tide has its way.
20

When winds draw south, and ice drives in,
And the landwash shakes with crashing din,
Right well he’ll know, though his eyes be shut,
How the white spume hisses thin.

When sea smoke hides the crawling sea,
25
And black reefs crouch expectantly,
He’ll know the drag of the twisting tide
And the doomed brig’s agony.

Now let him sleep.
Nothing to win; nothing to keep;
30
Nothing to want; nothing to fear—
Buried so soft and deep!

L.B.
                                                                                       1899, U.M.
 


  The Fiddler

Black as iron is the landwash
Under the wet fog;
And green sucks the tide.
Back of all lie barren and bog.            

Up here, amid granite and spruce-tuck,
5
Drift sounds as of fairies singing,
And lost souls sighing,
And far bells ringing,
And lovers laughing and crying; [Page 33]            
And out of the fog, like a ghost,
10
Steps simple Black Jarge Crew,
Playing his fiddle, poor fellow!—
Knowing naught else to do.
           
He sees granite and spruce-tuck,            
Juniper, pond and bog,
15
And down past the broken cliff
The green tide under the fog:
But he sees more beside,
Does simple Black Jarge Crew            
Stepping above the tide
20
And abroad in the barren places:
He sees flickery faces
Peeping out from the fern:
He knows where the Good People hide—            
The little, gay, soulless fairies—
25
And the Lost Gunner walks by his side.            

He hears a whisper of singing
From deep and deep underground
Of gnomes a-sweat at their anvils;            
And his fiddle mimics the sound.
30

He has no luck at the fishing:
He’s good for nothing: but when
These skiffs and stages are rotted
And dead are these fishermen,            
And skipper Flynn is forgotten
35
And naught of his store’s to be found,
This barren above the tides
Will still be “Fiddler’s Ground.”

*L.B.                             1926, Can. Mag. (As “Old Fiddlers Ground”)
[Page 34]
 
 

The Wreckers’ Prayer

In the old days before the building of the light houses, the poor “noddies” of many a Newfoundland outport prayed for wrecks—aye, and with easy consciences.  Only a few hundreds of them who took to deep-sea voyaging ever learned anything of the world and its peoples.  All the world, excepting their own desolate bays and “down Nort”, was “up-along” to them.  Montreal, Pernambuco, London, Oporto, Boston, Halifax—all were included in up-along to them; and up-along was a grand, rich place where all men were gentlemen wearing collars and coats, eating figgy-duff every day and smoking all they wanted to.  The folk of up-along had the easy end of life; so why shouldn’t they contribute something of their goods and gear to poor but honest noddies now and then, even if against their inclinations—aye, even if at the cost of their lives?

Give us a wrack or two, Good Lard,
For winter in Tops’il Tickle bes hard,
Wid grey frost creepin’ like mortal sin
And perishin’ lack of bread in the bin.                        

A grand, rich wrack, us do humbly pray,
5
Busted abroad at the break o’ day
An’ hove clear in ’crost Tops’il Reef,
Wid victuals an’ gear to beguile our grief.                        

God of reefs an’ tides an’ sky,                        
Heed Ye our need an’ hark to our cry!
10
Bread by the bag an’ beef by the cask.
Ease for sore bellies bes all we ask.                        

One grand wrack—or maybe two?—
Wid gear an’ victuals to see us through                        
’Til Spring starts up like the leap of day
15
An’ the fish strike back into Tops’il Bay.                        

One rich wrack—for Thy hand bes strong!
A barque or a brig from up-along
Bemused by Thy twisty tides, O Lard!                        
For winter in Tops’il Tickle bes hard. [Page 35]
20

Loud an’ long will us sing Yer praise,
Marciful Fadder, O ancient of Days,
Master of fog an’ tide an’ reef!
Heave us a wrack to beguile our grief.  Amen.

*L.B.                                                                                       1934, L.B.
 


Mother Carey’s Chickens

When the drift spins white, and the winds are high,
And the black clouds race in the sullen sky,
    The Mother Carey, down in the sea,
    Startles her chickens up from her knee.            
With shout and laughter she bids them fly.
5

“Oh, the white foam gleams, and the wave-heads sing,
So up my pretty ones, strong of wing.
There’s many a good ship out to-night,
Sheeted with spray and blind with fright:            
So follow them close, till the thing is done,
10
And bring me the dead hearts one by one.”            

For this is her way when the giant sea
Rages, stark mad, and the stunned ships flee;
    She sends her chickens, strong of flight,                 
     Out of the sea and into the night,
15
To guide dead mariners down to her knee.            

They say that her song has a magic ring
To sailormen, weary of journeying;
    That brave eyes close in a lotus sleep—                 
    All’s well! and never a watch to keep;
20
And the Joy of Life seems a little thing
When they follow the flash of the dipping wing.            

Their brisk sea voices will lift no more
When the anchor is catted for some strange shore. [Page 36]     Heart-ache is done and tears are past,
25
    And the red weeds cling to the broken mast,
And never a lean back springs to the oar.            

They say that these swift, brown birds, that flee
And skim in our wake, when the wind is free,            
Are the souls of mariners drowned in the sea—
30
That they guide dead comrades down, far down,
To the swaying streets of a coral town,
Where the mother sits in her tide-spun gown.

*Ind. (in pref to L.B.)                                                             1901, Ind.
 
 

The Mad Sailor


Mad, they call me.  Mad Dick Chant I be;
Struck so, folk say, by the crashing of reef and sea
That night I was hove ashore in Hermitage Bay
Along wid the timbers an’ spars of The Mary J.

Daft, they call me.  Daft Dick Chant be I,
5
Weeping when others be merry, laughing when others cry;
Running the frothy landwash when the night blows wild,
Or smoking a pipe by the red stove, contented and mild.

Strangers are warned I be queer; a touch on the forehead, so,
Some don’t look at me eye to eye, for fear I’d guess they know.
10
They give me tobacco and pity an’ leave me go my way—
Sole survivor—Mad Dick Chant—of The Mary J.

They give me bread and meat; a roof to shelter my head;
Tea for my smoky kettle and blankets enough to my bed.
They leave me sit, or step abroad, at my own wild whim.
15
“But for the Mercy of God,” they say, “we’d be like him.”

But for the mercy of God!  I have my laugh at that….
When the moon is round and the tide all shiny and flat [Page 37]
I steal away in the shadows of rocks, and wet rocks let me         through….
But for the Mercy of God, say I, I’d be the same as you!
20

Deep in Witchery Cave the tides and moon spin green,
Spinning a gleam the noddies ashore have never guessed nor         seen:
And old King Neptune’s daughters there are playing on harps of         shell:
They sing for me and laugh like bells at the sailor yarns I tell.

Skipper Nolan’s got a girl from Bully Bay for his bride.
25
I know a room by sea-lamps lit, down under the swelling tide—
A secret place; and a king’s daughter with breasts agleam like         pearl:
And poor Dick Chant is a prince down there in the arms of his         deep-sea girl.

When the blind gale blows black and loud I hear her call to me—
The silver voice, through the crashing surf, of my sweetheart
30
        under-sea:  
And so I run the spouting reef, splashing the wild night through,
Breasting the surf with my strong heart—for my mad dreams are         true.

And when the moon is white and round I wade into the tide
To sink among the oaring fish and glide where black eels glide;
And silky curtains of purple weed part and let me down
35
To where the love of my true heart waits in a tide-spun gown.

Mad, they call me.  Mad Dick Chant I be—
A poor, daft seafaring fool ashore but a lover under the sea.
Meat and bread they give me, and leave me go my way
Down to the arms of a king’s daughter under the shiny bay.      
40

Mad Dick Chant they call me.  Mad as the wind be I,
Running all night along the rocks to hear my dear love’s cry.
Pity and blankets they give me and a roof to shelter my head;
And little they guess of the truth of the place I make my bed!

Down in Witchery Cave the tides and moon spin green:
45
Green gowns for a sea-king’s daughters and for a king and queen,
        [Page 38]
And a princely robe for a laughing sailor, courting his gentle bride.
Poor Dick Chant I be ashore—but a lover under the tide!

L.B.
                                    *1931                              1932, Can. Mag.
 
 

Pernambuco in May


The harbour and city of Pernambuco are behind a reef.  The reef is topped by a brick wall built long ago, when the port was a possession of Holland, by workmen who knew their trade of raising barriers against the sea.  But the rollers of three hundred years have knocked a few holes in the good Dutch brickwork through which spray bursts upon the opaque green (and shark infested) waters of the harbour like the smoke of great guns and with a booming as of guns.
    I was there in May, which is not the best time to visit Pernambuco.


Not a leaf stirs in the rubbery looking trees.
The Skipper’s shirt is wilted and he’s dripping at the knees.
Whistle a breeze!                        

Brown girls move along on slithery dry feet,                        
Selling sticky sweets;
5
And brown men squat asleep in the hot street—
In all the hot streets—
With their shins in their hands and chins on their knees.
Whistle a breeze!                        

Narrow dark doors stand open here and there,
10
Inviting mates and masters in from the glare,
Through high dark stores to dusky cool bars,
Smelling of green limes and oily cigars,
Of bitters and pale rum and white anisette                        
And the slow blue smoke of a brown cigarette.
15
Whistle a drink!
“What will you have, Sir?  Just name your fancy!
“Gin and green coconut?—called a ‘Miss Nancy.’
“A long lime-squash, Sir, laced with white rum?—                        
“Known in these parts as a ‘Skippers’ Kingdom Come.’”
20
[Page 39]  

In Tucker’s dusky bar we give noon the slip:
But the more we cool our necks the more we drip-drip,
Dripping at the shoulders and wilting at the knees.
Whistle a breeze!                        
While I blow smoke of a fat green cigar,
25
The Skipper sings a ditty of a sailor and a star—
Of how a sailor’s sweetie a sailor’s star should be….
One more “Miss Nancy” will be enough for me!

L.B.
                                                   *(1901)                        1934, L.B.
 
 

Sailing North
off Pernambuco


North!  We are sailing North,
    The song at the windlass is done.
The slim, still palms, astern,
    Are black ‘gainst the orange sun.            

North!  She is heading North,
5
    And the shouldering trade is free,
And rail, and deck, and spar,
    Are sick of the purple sea!            

Weary of calm and squall;                 
     Weary of billow and spray;
10
Weary of blue and gold,
    And sick for the seas of gray.            

North!  We are sailing North,
    And the sudden darkness is white            
With the foam of the herding seas
15
    And the long wake’s silver light.            

The light of the galley door
    Gleams red on the slanting deck.
Windward the long seas leap                 
     Racing us neck and neck. [Page 40]
20

North!  We are sailing North,
    Lifting, and leaning over.
We are dreaming of inland fields
    And the little winds in the clover.            

Here is the tenth of May
25
    And the breeze at a nine-knot tune!
We’re reeling, a-sea, to-night—
    We’ll be laughing, ashore, in June.            

North!  We are heading North,                 
     And far in the dusk I see
30
A warm light, low on the Coast of Dream,
    Marking the course for me.

Ind.
                                         *1901                                      1901, Ind.
 
 

Fiddler’s Green


“At a place called Fiddler’s Green, there do all honest Mariners take their pleasure after death; and there are Admirals with their dear Ladies, and Captains of lost voyages with the Sweethearts of their youth, and tarry-handed Sailormen singing in cottage gardens.”

Never again shall we beat out to sea
In rain and mist and sleet like bitter tears,
And watch the harbour beacons fade a-lee,
And people all the sea-room with our fears.                        
Our toil is done.  No more, no more do we
5
Square the slow yards and stagger on the sea.                        

No more for us the white and windless day
Undimmed, unshadowed, where the weed drifts by
And leaden fish pass, rolling, at their play,                        
And changeless suns glide up a changeless sky,
10
Our watch is done; and never more shall we
Whistle a wind across a fest’ring sea, [Page 41]
                       
Cities we saw:  white wall and glinting dome,
And palm-fringed islands gleaming on the blue.                        
To us more fair the kindly sights of home—
15
The climbing streets and windows shining true.
Our voyage is done, and never more shall we
Reef bucking topsails on a tossing sea.                        

Wonders we knew and beauty in far ports;                        
Laughter and peril round the swinging deep;     
20
The wrath of God; the pomp of pagan courts…
The rocks sprang black! ... and we awoke from sleep!
Our task is done; and never more shall we
Square the slow yards and stagger on the sea.                        

Here are the hearts we love, the lips we know,
25
The hands of seafarers who came before.
The eyes that wept for us, a night ago,
Are laughing now that we shall part no more.
All care is past; and never more shall we                        
Make sail at daybreak for the grievous sea.
30

L.B.
                                        *1901                                      1903, Ind.
 
 

Night Wind of Barbados


Beyond the surf and the reef,
    Beyond the gloom and the gleam,
Beyond the purple veils
    Where lost sailors dream,            
The Wind of the Night awakes
5
    In fenceless pastures of din;
Seizing their manes of foam,
    She gallops her horses in. [Page 42]            

White is her face and fair;                 
     Her hands are like palest shells;
10
She sleeps where sea-fire burns
    And mermaids weave their spells.
All day she drifts and dreams,
    With a cheek in an idle hand,—            
But as soon as the stars flame out,
15
    She gallops the waves to land.            

Mad, at the urge of her hand
    They plunge and rear at the bit:
Arching their foaming necks                 
     And tossing their manes a-lit
20
They hurdle the frothy reef;
    To the cruel lash of her hand,
They stagger the marshalled rocks
    And trample the flinching sand.            

All night long, till dawn,
25
    The furious herds race in.
Back in the fields of cane
    The salty spray drifts thin.
She charges the sloshing reef,                 
     And black rocks heave and dip.
30
Under the eaves of our house
    Resounds the lash of her whip.            

Along the hills in the east
    A yellow flame upwaves;            
Behind the crested palms
35
    A tide of saffron laves;
Then, in rose and gold,
    The glad lights flare and flee,
And the Night Wind herds her horses                 
     To the pastures of the sea.
40

L.B.
                                                   1904, Y.C. (as “The Mad Rider”)
[Page 43]
 
 

Christmas in Alurio


A pink-walled house between the cane-fields and the surf was a good place in which to write verses.  The sea sang in one’s ears all day there, and all night, too.  The shimmer and flash of sunshine on breaking water filled the upper rooms all day; and all night they were filled with the wavering silver of reflected starshine.  The coral rocks in the surf were black with wind and sea; the sand was lilac; and the surf riding in from the blue and green was white as washed wool.


Pipe, bird, in the tamarind tree.
Pipe, wind, on the azure sea.
Here is the Season of Peace on Earth.
Pipe merrily.

Roar, surf, on the outer reef.
5
Sing, bird, on the plantain leaf.
Here is the Season of Joyous Living!
Have done with grief.

Whiter than snow, the surf rides in.
In the tamarind trees the songs begin.   
10
Out in the tumble of blue upstarts
A flashing fin.


Shout, surf; and pipe, wind;
Though seas are wide, the world is kind.
Joy has a nest in the tamarind tree
15
For Love to find.

Over the cane-fields breaks the day.
The boats are out in Martin’s Bay;
Sliding and plunging into the surf,
Seaward to safety they bear away.
20

The salty sails flap up and fill;
The men at the wet sheets whistle shrill;
The glad wind wrinkles the sea, and leaps
To the coconut trees on the crooked hill. [Page 44]

The planter’s windmill, heavy and slow,
25
Turns its arms in the azure glow,
Waves a hand to the sea, and sweeps
The trampled canes in the yard below.

The morning smoke-wreaths fade away
In the brighter blue of the sudden day;
30
And naked children play in the sun,
Racing the surf of Martin’s bay.

The palms, high-crested and straight and fine,
Swing and bend in line on line.
The tall canes rustle and clash and sigh
35
As the winter wind goes over and by.

Our shutters creak in the breath of the sea;
And blackbirds hop in the almond tree.
Across the surf at the outer reef,
With skill and valour beyond belief,      
40
The tiny fishing-boats plunge and strain,
Race and soar and top the surf,
And win to the lilac sands again.

The lithe brown children have gone to rest—
Shell-hunting over for one more day.    
45
Purple the east and purple the west,
And white stars over Martin’s Bay.

The boats, dismasted, gunwale to side,
Rest and forget the turmoil and spray;
A dreamless sleep, till to-morrow’s tide
50
Slips from the sands of Martin’s Bay.

The salt wind turns in the crested grove;
The shutters creak in the turning wind;
But the lamps are lit for hearts that rove,
And the path is bright for joy to find.    
55

L.B.
                                                       1904, Ind. (as “Winter Lyrics”)
[Page 45]  
 
 

Adieu


Fades the sodden wharf, and fades the spire.
    The anchored ships are lost.  The climbing town
Fades out.  The narrows close.  The cliffs retire.
    The green hill-pastures blur against the brown.

The free wind strains our pinions of gray sail.
5
    Low slips the sombre shore toward the blue.
The sun-shot lighthouse windows glint and fail.
    Our rounded topsails dip their long adieu.

Lipp. 
                                                                                   1906, Lipp.
 
 

Mermaids


I am strong for mermaids, though I must admit that some of them are mischievously inclined.  I believe in them: but there are dusty professors, with long noses stuck into books, who argue that the whole mermaid tradition is founded on nothing more or other than seals glimpsed suddenly and unexpectedly by drunken sailors and fishermen.  Seals!  I have seen seals—and maybe I’ve seen mermaids.  Nobody but a fool, and certainly not a sailor with three sheets in the wind, would mistake a seal for a mermaid.  Some people are always trying to take such joys as mermaids and fairies out of our difficult lives.  But here are some verses which prove that mermaids are not seals.


The bell is gone from the pitching buoy;
The warning voice is gone from the reef,
With its sudden clangour and shaking grief.
Stand wide! Stand clear! ’Ware rocks, Mariner. 
5
Death lurks here!

Wakeful, it hung in its iron cage—
Clatter and clang when seas smashed wild,
Boom and bang when tides span mild. Stand wide! Run clear!
10
’Ware reefs, Mariner.
Death lurks near. [Page 46]

Night and noon and dawn and eve,
It shook, from the tumult of green and white, Its boom of warning and clatter of fright—        
15
’Ware rocks! Stand clear!
Peril is near.

Silver mermaids found the bell.
Laughing sea-maids took it down
From the pitching buoy to their coral town,
20
And stilled its clangy voice to sleep,
Restful and deep.

The ships stands in; there is naught to hear—
No clang of bell, so nothing’s to fear.
All’s well. All’s clear.   
25
But death is here!

L.B.                                       
                1907, Ind. (as “The Lost Bell”)
 
 

Squaring the Yards


Drag the yards ‘round, lads, with a yo-ho!
Lug the beggars ‘round.
Mark the heads’ill pull, lads!  Sure, an’ they must know
We’re runnin’ for the little port between the hills of snow.

Tail along the brace, lads.  Yo-ho—Heave all—
5
Pull together!
Th’ Skipper’s on the poop, lads, hark’nin’ to the call,
With one eye on the compass an’ t’other on the squall.

Bend your backs as one, lads.  Yo-ho—Heave away—
Snatch her ‘round
!
10
Ahead, the eternal ocean is smokin’ white an’ gray,
And we’ll be sightin’ Signal Hill afore Saint Patrick’s Day.
[Page 47]


Pull the yards ’round, lads, with a yo-ho!
Lug the fors’il ’round. Let the scuppers slobber an’ let the tempest
15
        blow—  
Let the wrack to win’ward churn the sea below—
Lads, we’re home-bound!

Out.                                                         
                               1907, Out.
 
 

The Shark


A shadow deep in the wave astern,
     A quiver of green, a sliding fin
Shifting, but ever keeping the course—
     Silent and keen as sin.


Sometimes close in our wake he swam,
5
     And sometimes far, with a careless air—
But we knew that ever those evil eyes
     Were wide awake and aware.


Through the doldrums, across the Line
     We crawled; and on deck, at every turn,
10
The Skipper marked, with uneasy gaze,
     That voyaging fin astern.


All day, all night, day in, day out,
     It held to our course on that lazy sea.

“He be waitin’ for more nor the galley slops,”
15
     Said Boatswain Pat McGee.

The men aloft looked aft and saw,
     (Where the sinister dorsal tacked and slid),
An eye that stared at our rolling hull

     With never the blink of a lid.
20

At last we won to brisker seas,
     With spray abeam and porpoise ahead: [Page 48]
And the black fin sank in our bubbling wake…
     “Thank God!” the Skipper said.

*Hal. Herald (1932) (in pref. to L.B.)                                  1911, Ind.
 
 

The Blind Sailor


                      “Strike me blind!” we swore.
                      God! And I was stricken!
                      I have seen the morning fade
                      And noonday thicken.

                                        ●    ●    ●

Be merciful, O God, that I have named in vain.
5
I am blind in the eyes; but spare the gleam in my brain.
Though my footsteps falter, let my soul still sight
The things that were my life before you hid the light.


Little things were they, Lord, too small to be denied:
The green of roadstead waters where the tired ships ride,
10
Bark and brig and barkentine, blown from near and far,
Safe inside the spouting reef and the sobbing bar.


Leave to me my pictures, Lord, leave my memories bright:
The twisted palms are clashing, and the sand is white.
 The shore-boats crowd around us, the skipper’s gig is manned,
15
And nutmegs spice the little wind that baffles off the land.

The negro girls are singing in the fields of cane,
The lizards dart on that white path I’ll not walk again,
The opal blinds melt up at dawn, the crimson blinds flare down,
And white against the mountains flash the street-lamps of the
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        town.  

Leave to me my pictures, Lord, spare my mind to see
The shimmer of the water and shadow of the tree, [Page 49]
The cables roaring down, the gray sails swiftly furled,
A riding-light ablink in some far corner of the world.


Leave to me my pictures, Lord: the islands and the main,
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The little things a sailorman must out to see again;
The beggars in the market-place, the oxen in the streets,
The bitter, black tobacco and the women selling sweets.

I have fed my vision, Lord; now I pray to hold
The blue and gray and silver, the green and brown and gold.
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I have filled my heart, Lord; now I pray to keep
The laughter and the colour through this unlifting sleep.

                                        ●    ●    ●

                      “Strike me blind!” we swore.
                      God! And I am blind!
                      But leave me still, O Lord,
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                      The pictures in the mind!

*Can. Mag. (in pref. to L.B.)                                    1912, Can. Mag.
 
 

The Lost Shipmate


Somewhere he left me; somewhere he slipt away—
     Youth, in his ignorant faith and his bright array.
The tides go out, the tides come flooding in,
     And still the old years pass and the new begin—
But Youth—
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     Somewhere we lost each other, last year or yesterday.

Somewhere he failed me…. Down at the harbourside.
     I waited and watched for him where anchored argosies ride.
I thought he came!  ‘Twas the dawn-wind blowing free:
     I saw his shadow—and ‘twas the shadow of me.
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Somewhere my shipmate left me, between a tide and a tide. [Page 50]

It may be that I shall find him.  It may be he waits for me,
     Sipping those wines we knew in the draught of a breeze from             the sea.
The tides still serve; and I am out and away
     To search the spicy harbours of Yesterday,
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Where the lamps of the town shine yellow beyond the lamps of the            quay.

Somewhere he failed me, somewhere he turned away—
     Youth, of the careless heart and the bright array.
Was it in Bados? God, I would pay to know!
     Was it on Spanish Hill, where the roses blow?
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Shall I hear his laughter to-morrow in painted Olivio?

Somewhere I failed him; somewhere I let him depart—
     Youth, who would only sleep for the morn’s fresh start!
The tides still serve; the ships pass out and in;—
     Anchors a-weigh to the capstans’ clanking din!—
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But Youth?—
     Shall I find you south of the Gulf?—or are you dead in my heart?

L.B.                                                                
            1913, Can. Mag.
 
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