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The Oceanides, Edited by Judith Pascoe

 

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MY SEA-HERMITAGE.

Inscribed to Capt. C. Biden,
E.I.C.S. Commander of the Ship Victory.

by Mrs. Fletcher.

(Late Miss Jewsbury.)

Swinging in my cot at ease,
Yet a wanderer o'er the seas,
Seas that never lead may sound,—
Seas that have for man no ground;—
Depths whose wonders call for faith,
Never known till known in death,
Till, unto the drowner's eye
Knowledge blends with agony;
And too soon, too sadly, he
Fathometh the mystery,
One, one with Eternity!
O thou element, whose band
Is alone thy Maker's hand,
By thy fullness never spent,
But for Him, omnipotent!
By thy length and breadth of span,
By thy tides since Time began,
By thy heaving, and, oh! more,
By thy dread and solemn roar;
By thy depths that nought may stir,
Mighty, mighty sepulchre!—
By the ravage thou hast wrought,
By the sorrow thou hast brought
Unto human life and thought;—
Ay, by all thy power and pride,
When thou wast, and nought beside,
Save the heaven thou couldst not drown,
And the arm that kept thee down;—
Thee, I name, with spirit bent,
But for God, omnipotent!
Yet a wanderer o'er thy waves,
(Call them liquid land of graves)
Frail as feather in the breeze,
I am in my cot at ease!—
All thy dreaded storms forgot,
All thy strength as it were not,
Heaving with thee, as a child
With its mother's pulses mild,
Looking on thy billows' sway
As that child on lambs at play;
Not a shore from east to west,
Not a fear within my breast,
And my cabin full of all
That may lessen sense of thrall;
Books, read last amid green hills
 With their poetry of rills;—
Miniatures of friends afar,
Each a fond memorial star;—
Birds that singing in their cage
Make my ocean-hermitage
Have a sound and look of hours,
That once tread on moss and flowers:
Tranquil I, and happy they,
Though the salt and booming spray
Is around us—night and day.
Yes, but better things than these
Make me have a heart at ease;
Better even than the knowing
That our ship is swiftly going,
With her frame and tackling good,
To the haven where we would:—
Better even than the knowing,
That her ruler's heart is glowing
With each brave and kindly thought
Tempered as a sailor's ought.
Yes 'tis something more than these
Maketh home upon the seas;—
Name it, ye who know the worth
Of the nearest friend on earth;
Name it; ye who know the love
Of the nearer friend above!

Off Teneriffe, Oct.9, 1832


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Published @ RC

November 2003