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The Oceanides, Edited by Judith Pascoe

 

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THE OUTWARD-BOUND SHIP

by Mrs. Fletcher

(Late Miss Jewsbury)

She is on her way, a goodly ship,
    With her tacklings loosed, her pilot gone;
Behind, beneath, around, the deep,
    And far the land where she beareth on:
Fading, fast fading, yonder lie
    The last of her home, the hills of Devon,
And the brightness and calm of a Sabbath sky
    Have made them shine like the gates of heaven.

To those who watch her from the strand,
    She is but a cloud 'mid sea and air!
And having gazed, perchance the band
    Move onward with a languid prayer.
Yet is she vast from deck to keel,
    A city moving on the waters,
Freighted with business, woe and weal,
    Freighted with England's sons and daughters.

The sea is round them: many a week
    They o'er that deep salt sea must roam,
And yet the sounds of land will break
    The spell, and send their spirits home;
The cry of prisoned household bird,
    Shrill mingling with the boatswain's call;
With surge and sail, the lowing herd,
    And hark—street music over all!

"Arouse thee," from the bugle's mouth,
    And with the merry viol's aid,
Tunes gathered from the north and south,
    For dance and dinner signals made:
Harsh music to the gifted ear,
    Teasing, perhaps, heard day by day,
Yet often precious, often dear,
    As waking dreams of—Far away.

Alas! the sea itself wakes more!
    With its briny smell and heaving breast,
With its length and breadth without a shore,
    With its circling line from east to west,
Telleth it not of home, of earth,
    With her rills, and flowers, and steadfastness,
Till sick thoughts in the soul have birth,
    And loath'd is the foaming wilderness?

No more, no more: we are on our way:
    The tropics are gained, and who would pine
For the pallid sun of an English day?
    For the glittering cold of its night's moonshine?
No more, no more—why pine for flowers,
    If DUTY our Indian amaranth be?
If we look to the land that shall soon be ours,
    A land where is "no more sea"!

  Off Madeira, Oct. 6, 1832.


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Published @ RC

November 2003

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