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  • 1897
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The Devil he blew an outward breath, for his heart was free from care: — “Ye have scarce the soul of a louse,” he said, “but the roots of sin are there,
And for that sin should ye come in were I the lord alone. But sinful pride has rule inside — and mightier than my own. Honour and Wit, fore-damned they sit, to each his priest and whore: Nay, scarce I dare myself go there, and you they’d torture sore. Ye are neither spirit nor spirk,” he said; “ye are neither book nor brute — Go, get ye back to the flesh again for the sake of Man’s repute. I’m all o’er-sib to Adam’s breed that I should mock your pain, But look that ye win to worthier sin ere ye come back again. Get hence, the hearse is at your door — the grim black stallions wait — They bear your clay to place to-day. Speed, lest ye come too late! Go back to Earth with a lip unsealed — go back with an open eye, And carry my word to the Sons of Men or ever ye come to die: That the sin they do by two and two they must pay for one by one — And. . .the God that you took from a printed book be with you, Tomlinson!”


My new-cut ashlar takes the light
Where crimson-blank the windows flare; By my own work, before the night,
Great Overseer I make my prayer.

If there be good in that I wrought, Thy hand compelled it, Master, Thine;
Where I have failed to meet Thy thought I know, through Thee, the blame is mine.
One instant’s toil to Thee denied
Stands all Eternity’s offence,
Of that I did with Thee to guide
To Thee, through Thee, be excellence.
Who, lest all thought of Eden fade, Bring’st Eden to the craftsman’s brain, Godlike to muse o’er his own trade
And Manlike stand with God again.

The depth and dream of my desire,
The bitter paths wherein I stray,
Thou knowest Who hast made the Fire, Thou knowest Who hast made the Clay!

One stone the more swings to her place In that dread Temple of Thy Worth —
It is enough that through Thy grace I saw naught common on Thy earth.

Take not that vision from my ken;
Oh whatsoe’er may spoil or speed,
Help me to need no aid from men
That I may help such men as need!


There’s a whisper down the field where the year has shot her yield, And the ricks stand gray to the sun,
Singing: — “Over then, come over, for the bee has quit the clover, And your English summer’s done.”
You have heard the beat of the off-shore wind, And the thresh of the deep-sea rain;
You have heard the song — how long! how long? Pull out on the trail again!

Ha’ done with the Tents of Shem, dear lass, We’ve seen the seasons through,
And it’s time to turn on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail, Pull out, pull out, on the Long Trail — the trail that is always new.
It’s North you may run to the rime-ringed sun, Or South to the blind Horn’s hate;
Or East all the way into Mississippi Bay, Or West to the Golden Gate;
Where the blindest bluffs hold good, dear lass, And the wildest tales are true,
And the men bulk big on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail, And life runs large on the Long Trail — the trail that is always new.
The days are sick and cold, and the skies are gray and old, And the twice-breathed airs blow damp;
And I’d sell my tired soul for the bucking beam-sea roll Of a black Bilbao tramp;
With her load-line over her hatch, dear lass, And a drunken Dago crew,
And her nose held down on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail From Cadiz Bar on the Long Trail — the trail that is always new.
There be triple ways to take, of the eagle or the snake, Or the way of a man with a maid;
But the fairest way to me is a ship’s upon the sea In the heel of the North-East Trade.
Can you hear the crash on her bows, dear lass, And the drum of the racing screw,
As she ships it green on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail, As she lifts and ‘scends on the Long Trail — the trail that is always new?

See the shaking funnels roar, with the Peter at the fore, And the fenders grind and heave,
And the derricks clack and grate, as the tackle hooks the crate, And the fall-rope whines through the sheave; It’s “Gang-plank up and in,” dear lass, It’s “Hawsers warp her through!”
And it’s “All clear aft” on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail, We’re backing down on the Long Trail — the trail that is always new.
O the mutter overside, when the port-fog holds us tied, And the sirens hoot their dread!
When foot by foot we creep o’er the hueless viewless deep To the sob of the questing lead!
It’s down by the Lower Hope, dear lass, With the Gunfleet Sands in view,
Till the Mouse swings green on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail,
And the Gull Light lifts on the Long Trail — the trail that is always new.

O the blazing tropic night, when the wake’s a welt of light That holds the hot sky tame,
And the steady fore-foot snores through the planet-powdered floors Where the scared whale flukes in flame! Her plates are scarred by the sun, dear lass, And her ropes are taut with the dew,
For we’re booming down on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail, We’re sagging south on the Long Trail — the trail that is always new.
Then home, get her home, where the drunken rollers comb, And the shouting seas drive by,
And the engines stamp and ring, and the wet bows reel and swing, And the Southern Cross rides high!
Yes, the old lost stars wheel back, dear lass, That blaze in the velvet blue.
They’re all old friends on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail, They’re God’s own guides on the Long Trail — the trail that is always new.

Fly forward, O my heart, from the Foreland to the Start — We’re steaming all-too slow,
And it’s twenty thousand mile to our little lazy isle Where the trumpet-orchids blow!
You have heard the call of the off-shore wind, And the voice of the deep-sea rain;
You have heard the song — how long! how long? Pull out on the trail again!

The Lord knows what we may find, dear lass, And The Deuce knows what we may do —
But we’re back once more on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail, We’re down, hull down on the Long Trail — the trail that is always new.




To the City of Bombay

The Cities are full of pride,
Challenging each to each —
This from her mountain-side,
That from her burthened beach.

They count their ships full tale — Their corn and oil and wine,
Derrick and loom and bale,
And rampart’s gun-flecked line;
City by City they hail:
“Hast aught to match with mine?”
And the men that breed from them They traffic up and down,
But cling to their cities’ hem
As a child to their mother’s gown.
When they talk with the stranger bands, Dazed and newly alone;
When they walk in the stranger lands, By roaring streets unknown;
Blessing her where she stands
For strength above their own.

(On high to hold her fame
That stands all fame beyond,
By oath to back the same,
Most faithful-foolish-fond;
Making her mere-breathed name
Their bond upon their bond.)

So thank I God my birth
Fell not in isles aside —
Waste headlands of the earth,
Or warring tribes untried —
But that she lent me worth
And gave me right to pride.

Surely in toil or fray
Under an alien sky,
Comfort it is to say:
“Of no mean city am I!”

(Neither by service nor fee
Come I to mine estate —
Mother of Cities to me,
For I was born in her gate,
Between the palms and the sea,
Where the world-end steamers wait.)
Now for this debt I owe,
And for her far-borne cheer
Must I make haste and go
With tribute to her pier.

And she shall touch and remit
After the use of kings
(Orderly, ancient, fit)
My deep-sea plunderings,
And purchase in all lands.
And this we do for a sign
Her power is over mine,
And mine I hold at her hands!



Fair is our lot — O goodly is our heritage! (Humble ye, my people, and be fearful in your mirth!) For the Lord our God Most High
He hath made the deep as dry,
He hath smote for us a pathway to the ends of all the Earth!
Yea, though we sinned — and our rulers went from righteousness — Deep in all dishonour though we stained our garments’ hem. Oh be ye not dismayed,
Though we stumbled and we strayed, We were led by evil counsellors — the Lord shall deal with them!
Hold ye the Faith — the Faith our Fathers seal]\ed us; Whoring not with visions — overwise and overstale. Except ye pay the Lord
Single heart and single sword,
Of your children in their bondage shall He ask them treble-tale!
Keep ye the Law — be swift in all obedience — Clear the land of evil, drive the road and bridge the ford. Make ye sure to each his own
That he reap where he hath sown; By the peace among Our peoples let men know we serve the Lord!
. . . . .

Hear now a song — a song of broken interludes — A song of little cunning; of a singer nothing worth. Through the naked words and mean
May ye see the truth between
As the singer knew and touched it in the ends of all the Earth!

The Coastwise Lights

Our brows are bound with spindrift and the weed is on our knees; Our loins are battered ‘neath us by the swinging, smoking seas. From reef and rock and skerry — over headland, ness, and voe — The Coastwise Lights of England watch the ships of England go!
Through the endless summer evenings, on the lineless, level floors; Through the yelling Channel tempest when the siren hoots and roars — By day the dipping house-flag and by night the rocket’s trail — As the sheep that graze behind us so we know them where they hail.
We bridge across the dark and bid the helmsman have a care, The flash that wheeling inland wakes his sleeping wife to prayer; From our vexed eyries, head to gale, we bind in burning chains The lover from the sea-rim drawn — his love in English lanes.
We greet the clippers wing-and-wing that race the Southern wool; We warn the crawling cargo-tanks of Bremen, Leith, and Hull; To each and all our equal lamp at peril of the sea — The white wall-sided war-ships or the whalers of Dundee!
Come up, come in from Eastward, from the guardports of the Morn! Beat up, beat in from Southerly, O gipsies of the Horn! Swift shuttles of an Empire’s loom that weave us, main to main, The Coastwise Lights of England give you welcome back again!
Go, get you gone up-Channel with the sea-crust on your plates; Go, get you into London with the burden of your freights! Haste, for they talk of Empire there, and say, if any seek, The Lights of England sent you and by silence shall ye speak!

The Song of the Dead

Hear now the Song of the Dead — in the North by the torn berg-edges — They that look still to the Pole, asleep by their hide-stripped sledges. Song of the Dead in the South — in the sun by their skeleton horses, Where the warrigal whimpers and bays through the dust of the sear river-courses.

Song of the Dead in the East — in the heat-rotted jungle hollows, Where the dog-ape barks in the kloof — in the brake of the buffalo-wallows. Song of the Dead in the West —
in the Barrens, the waste that betrayed them, Where the wolverene tumbles their packs from the camp and the grave-mound they made them; Hear now the Song of the Dead!


We were dreamers, dreaming greatly, in the man-stifled town; We yearned beyond the sky-line where the strange roads go down. Came the Whisper, came the Vision, came the Power with the Need, Till the Soul that is not man’s soul was lent us to lead. As the deer breaks — as the steer breaks — from the herd where they graze, In the faith of little children we went on our ways. Then the wood failed — then the food failed — then the last water dried — In the faith of little children we lay down and died. On the sand-drift — on the veldt-side — in the fern-scrub we lay, That our sons might follow after by the bones on the way. Follow after — follow after! We have watered the root, And the bud has come to blossom that ripens for fruit! Follow after — we are waiting, by the trails that we lost, For the sounds of many footsteps, for the tread of a host. Follow after — follow after — for the harvest is sown: By the bones about the wayside ye shall come to your own!
When Drake went down to the Horn And England was crowned thereby,
‘Twixt seas unsailed and shores unhailed Our Lodge — our Lodge was born
(And England was crowned thereby!)
Which never shall close again
By day nor yet by night,
While man shall take his life to stake At risk of shoal or main
(By day nor yet by night).

But standeth even so
As now we witness here,
While men depart, of joyful heart, Adventure for to know
(As now bear witness here!)


We have fed our sea for a thousand years And she calls us, still unfed,
Though there’s never a wave of all her waves But marks our English dead:
We have strawed our best to the weed’s unrest, To the shark and the sheering gull.
If blood be the price of admiralty, Lord God, we ha’ paid in full!

There’s never a flood goes shoreward now But lifts a keel we manned;
There’s never an ebb goes seaward now But drops our dead on the sand —
But slinks our dead on the sands forlore, From the Ducies to the Swin.
If blood be the price of admiralty, If blood be the price of admiralty,
Lord God, we ha’ paid it in!

We must feed our sea for a thousand years, For that is our doom and pride,
As it was when they sailed with the ~Golden Hind~, Or the wreck that struck last tide —
Or the wreck that lies on the spouting reef Where the ghastly blue-lights flare.
If blood be the price of admiralty, If blood be the price of admiralty,
If blood be the price of admiralty, Lord God, we ha’ bought it fair!

The Deep-Sea Cables

The wrecks dissolve above us; their dust drops down from afar — Down to the dark, to the utter dark, where the blind white sea-snakes are. There is no sound, no echo of sound, in the deserts of the deep, Or the great gray level plains of ooze where the shell-burred cables creep.
Here in the womb of the world — here on the tie-ribs of earth Words, and the words of men, flicker and flutter and beat — Warning, sorrow and gain, salutation and mirth — For a Power troubles the Still that has neither voice nor feet.
They have wakened the timeless Things; they have killed their father Time; Joining hands in the gloom, a league from the last of the sun. Hush! Men talk to-day o’er the waste of the ultimate slime, And a new Word runs between: whispering, “Let us be one!”

The Song of the Sons

One from the ends of the earth — gifts at an open door — Treason has much, but we, Mother, thy sons have more! From the whine of a dying man, from the snarl of a wolf-pack freed, Turn, and the world is thine. Mother, be proud of thy seed! Count, are we feeble or few? Hear, is our speech so rude? Look, are we poor in the land? Judge, are we men of The Blood?
Those that have stayed at thy knees, Mother, go call them in — We that were bred overseas wait and would speak with our kin. Not in the dark do we fight — haggle and flout and gibe; Selling our love for a price, loaning our hearts for a bribe. Gifts have we only to-day — Love without promise or fee — Hear, for thy children speak, from the uttermost parts of the sea!

The Song of the Cities


Royal and Dower-royal, I the Queen
Fronting thy richest sea with richer hands — A thousand mills roar through me where I glean All races from all lands.


Me the Sea-captain loved, the River built, Wealth sought and Kings adventured life to hold. Hail, England! I am Asia — Power on silt, Death in my hands, but Gold!


Clive kissed me on the mouth and eyes and brow, Wonderful kisses, so that I became
Crowned above Queens — a withered beldame now, Brooding on ancient fame.


Hail, Mother! Do they call me rich in trade? Little care I, but hear the shorn priest drone, And watch my silk-clad lovers, man by maid, Laugh ‘neath my Shwe Dagon.


Hail, Mother! East and West must seek my aid Ere the spent gear may dare the ports afar. The second doorway of the wide world’s trade Is mine to loose or bar.


Hail, Mother! Hold me fast; my Praya sleeps Under innumerable keels to-day.
Yet guard (and landward), or to-morrow sweeps Thy war-ships down the bay!


Into the mist my guardian prows put forth, Behind the mist my virgin ramparts lie, The Warden of the Honour of the North,
Sleepless and veiled am I!


Peace is our portion. Yet a whisper rose, Foolish and causeless, half in jest, half hate. Now wake we and remember mighty blows,
And, fearing no man, wait!


From East to West the circling word has passed, Till West is East beside our land-locked blue; From East to West the tested chain holds fast, The well-forged link rings true!


Hail! Snatched and bartered oft from hand to hand, I dream my dream, by rock and heath and pine, Of Empire to the northward. Ay, one land From Lion’s Head to Line!


Greeting! Nor fear nor favour won us place, Got between greed of gold and dread of drouth, Loud-voiced and reckless as the wild tide-race That whips our harbour-mouth!


Greeting! My birth-stain have I turned to good; Forcing strong wills perverse to steadfastness: The first flush of the tropics in my blood, And at my feet Success!


The northern stirp beneath the southern skies — I build a Nation for an Empire’s need,
Suffer a little, and my land shall rise, Queen over lands indeed!


Man’s love first found me; man’s hate made me Hell; For my babes’ sake I cleansed those infamies. Earnest for leave to live and labour well, God flung me peace and ease.


Last, loneliest, loveliest, exquisite, apart — On us, on us the unswerving season smiles, Who wonder ‘mid our fern why men depart
To seek the Happy Isles!

England’s Answer

Truly ye come of The Blood; slower to bless than to ban; Little used to lie down at the bidding of any man. Flesh of the flesh that I bred, bone of the bone that I bare; Stark as your sons shall be — stern as your fathers were. Deeper than speech our love, stronger than life our tether, But we do not fall on the neck nor kiss when we come together. My arm is nothing weak, my strength is not gone by; Sons, I have borne many sons, but my dugs are not dry. Look, I have made ye a place and opened wide the doors, That ye may talk together, your Barons and Councillors — Wards of the Outer March, Lords of the Lower Seas, Ay, talk to your gray mother that bore you on her knees! — That ye may talk together, brother to brother’s face — Thus for the good of your peoples — thus for the Pride of the Race. Also, we will make promise. So long as The Blood endures, I shall know that your good is mine: ye shall feel that my strength is yours: In the day of Armageddon, at the last great fight of all, That Our House stand together and the pillars do not fall. Draw now the threefold knot firm on the ninefold bands, And the Law that ye make shall be law after the rule of your lands. This for the waxen Heath, and that for the Wattle-bloom, This for the Maple-leaf, and that for the southern Broom. The Law that ye make shall be law and I do not press my will, Because ye are Sons of The Blood and call me Mother still. Now must ye speak to your kinsmen and they must speak to you, After the use of the English, in straight-flung words and few. Go to your work and be strong, halting not in your ways, Balking the end half-won for an instant dole of praise. Stand to your work and be wise — certain of sword and pen, Who are neither children nor Gods, but men in a world of men!


Mine was the woman to me, darkling I found her; Haling her dumb from the camp, took her and bound her. Hot rose her tribe on our track ere I had proved her; Hearing her laugh in the gloom, greatly I loved her.
Swift through the forest we ran; none stood to guard us, Few were my people and far; then the flood barred us — Him we call Son of the Sea, sullen and swollen. Panting we waited the death, stealer and stolen.
Yet ere they came to my lance laid for the slaughter, Lightly she leaped to a log lapped in the water; Holding on high and apart skins that arrayed her, Called she the God of the Wind that He should aid her.
Life had the tree at that word (Praise we the Giver!) Otter-like left he the bank for the full river. Far fell their axes behind, flashing and ringing, Wonder was on me and fear — yet she was singing!
Low lay the land we had left. Now the blue bound us, Even the Floor of the Gods level around us. Whisper there was not, nor word, shadow nor showing, Till the light stirred on the deep, glowing and growing.
Then did He leap to His place flaring from under, He the Compeller, the Sun, bared to our wonder. Nay, not a league from our eyes blinded with gazing, Cleared He the gate of the world, huge and amazing!
This we beheld (and we live) — the Pit of the Burning! Then the God spoke to the tree for our returning; Back to the beach of our flight, fearless and slowly, Back to our slayers went he: but we were holy.
Men that were hot in that hunt, women that followed, Babes that were promised our bones, trembled and wallowed: Over the necks of the Tribe crouching and fawning — Prophet and priestess we came back from the dawning!


“~And there was no more sea.~”

Thus said The Lord in the Vault above the Cherubim Calling to the Angels and the Souls in their degree: “Lo! Earth has passed away
On the smoke of Judgment Day.
That Our word may be established shall We gather up the sea?”
Loud sang the souls of the jolly, jolly mariners: “Plague upon the hurricane that made us furl and flee! But the war is done between us,
In the deep the Lord hath seen us — Our bones we’ll leave the barracout’, and God may sink the sea!”
Then said the soul of Judas that betray]\ed Him: “Lord, hast Thou forgotten Thy covenant with me? How once a year I go
To cool me on the floe?
And Ye take my day of mercy if Ye take away the sea!”
Then said the soul of the Angel of the Off-shore Wind: (He that bits the thunder when the bull-mouthed breakers flee): “I have watch and ward to keep
O’er Thy wonders on the deep,
And Ye take mine honour from me if Ye take away the sea!”
Loud sang the souls of the jolly, jolly mariners: “Nay, but we were angry, and a hasty folk are we! If we worked the ship together
Till she foundered in foul weather, Are we babes that we should clamour for a vengeance on the sea?”
Then said the souls of the slaves that men threw overboard: “Kennelled in the picaroon a weary band were we; But Thy arm was strong to save,
And it touched us on the wave,
And we drowsed the long tides idle till Thy Trumpets tore the sea.”
Then cried the soul of the stout Apostle Paul to God: “Once we frapped a ship, and she laboured woundily. There were fourteen score of these,
And they blessed Thee on their knees, When they learned Thy Grace and Glory under Malta by the sea!”
Loud sang the souls of the jolly, jolly mariners, Plucking at their harps, and they plucked unhandily: “Our thumbs are rough and tarred,
And the tune is something hard —
May we lift a Deep-sea Chantey such as seamen use at sea?”
Then said the souls of the gentlemen-adventurers — Fettered wrist to bar all for red iniquity: “Ho, we revel in our chains
O’er the sorrow that was Spain’s;
Heave or sink it, leave or drink it, we were masters of the sea!”
Up spake the soul of a gray Gothavn ‘speckshioner — (He that led the flinching in the fleets of fair Dundee): “Oh, the ice-blink white and near,
And the bowhead breaching clear!
Will Ye whelm them all for wantonness that wallow in the sea?”
Loud sang the souls of the jolly, jolly mariners, Crying: “Under Heaven, here is neither lead nor lee! Must we sing for evermore
On the windless, glassy floor?
Take back your golden fiddles and we’ll beat to open sea!”
Then stooped the Lord, and He called the good sea up to Him, And ‘stablished his borders unto all eternity, That such as have no pleasure
For to praise the Lord by measure, They may enter into galleons and serve Him on the sea.
Sun, wind, and cloud shall fail not from the face of it, Stinging, ringing spindrift, nor the fulmar flying free; And the ships shall go abroad
To the Glory of the Lord
Who heard the silly sailor-folk and gave them back their sea!


King Solomon drew merchantmen,
Because of his desire
For peacocks, apes, and ivory,
From Tarshish unto Tyre:
With cedars out of Lebanon
Which Hiram rafted down,
But we be only sailormen
That use in London Town.

Coastwise — cross-seas — round the world and back again — Where the flaw shall head us or the full Trade suits — Plain-sail — storm-sail — lay your board and tack again — And that’s the way we’ll pay Paddy Doyle for his boots!
We bring no store of ingots,
Of spice or precious stones,
But that we have we gathered
With sweat and aching bones:
In flame beneath the tropics,
In frost upon the floe,
And jeopardy of every wind
That does between them go.

And some we got by purchase,
And some we had by trade,
And some we found by courtesy
Of pike and carronade —
At midnight, ‘mid-sea meetings,
For charity to keep,
And light the rolling homeward-bound That rode a foot too deep.

By sport of bitter weather
We’re walty, strained, and scarred From the kentledge on the kelson
To the slings upon the yard.
Six oceans had their will of us
To carry all away —
Our galley’s in the Baltic,
And our boom’s in Mossel Bay!

We’ve floundered off the Texel,
Awash with sodden deals,
We’ve slipped from Valparaiso
With the Norther at our heels:
We’ve ratched beyond the Crossets
That tusk the Southern Pole,
And dipped our gunnels under
To the dread Agulhas roll.

Beyond all outer charting
We sailed where none have sailed,
And saw the land-lights burning
On islands none have hailed;
Our hair stood up for wonder,
But, when the night was done,
There danced the deep to windward
Blue-empty ‘neath the sun!

Strange consorts rode beside us
And brought us evil luck;
The witch-fire climbed our channels, And flared on vane and truck:
Till, through the red tornado,
That lashed us nigh to blind,
We saw The Dutchman plunging,
Full canvas, head to wind!

We’ve heard the Midnight Leadsman
That calls the black deep down —
Ay, thrice we’ve heard The Swimmer, The Thing that may not drown.
On frozen bunt and gasket
The sleet-cloud drave her hosts,
When, manned by more than signed with us, We passed the Isle o’ Ghosts!

And north, amid the hummocks,
A biscuit-toss below,
We met the silent shallop
That frighted whalers know;
For, down a cruel ice-lane,
That opened as he sped,
We saw dead Henry Hudson
Steer, North by West, his dead.

So dealt God’s waters with us
Beneath the roaring skies,
So walked His signs and marvels
All naked to our eyes:
But we were heading homeward
With trade to lose or make —
Good Lord, they slipped behind us
In the tailing of our wake!

Let go, let go the anchors;
Now shamed at heart are we
To bring so poor a cargo home
That had for gift the sea!
Let go the great bow-anchors —
Ah, fools were we and blind —
The worst we stored with utter toil, The best we left behind!

Coastwise — cross-seas — round the world and back again, Whither flaw shall fail us or the Trades drive down: Plain-sail — storm-sail — lay your board and tack again — And all to bring a cargo up to London Town!


Lord, Thou hast made this world below the shadow of a dream, An’, taught by time, I tak’ it so — exceptin’ always Steam. From coupler-flange to spindle-guide I see Thy Hand, O God — Predestination in the stride o’ yon connectin’-rod. John Calvin might ha’ forged the same — enorrmous, certain, slow — Ay, wrought it in the furnace-flame — ~my~ “Institutio”. I cannot get my sleep to-night; old bones are hard to please; I’ll stand the middle watch up here — alone wi’ God an’ these My engines, after ninety days o’ race an’ rack an’ strain Through all the seas of all Thy world, slam-bangin’ home again. Slam-bang too much — they knock a wee — the crosshead-gibs are loose; But thirty thousand mile o’ sea has gied them fair excuse. . . . Fine, clear an’ dark — a full-draught breeze, wi’ Ushant out o’ sight, An’ Ferguson relievin’ Hay. Old girl, ye’ll walk to-night! His wife’s at Plymouth. . . . Seventy — One — Two — Three since he began —
Three turns for Mistress Ferguson. . .and who’s to blame the man? There’s none at any port for me, by drivin’ fast or slow, Since Elsie Campbell went to Thee, Lord, thirty years ago. (The year the ~Sarah Sands~ was burned. Oh roads we used to tread, Fra’ Maryhill to Pollokshaws — fra’ Govan to Parkhead!) Not but they’re ceevil on the Board. Ye’ll hear Sir Kenneth say: “Good-morrn, M’Andrew! Back again? An’ how’s your bilge to-day?” Miscallin’ technicalities but handin’ me my chair To drink Madeira wi’ three Earls — the auld Fleet Engineer, That started as a boiler-whelp — when steam and he were low. I mind the time we used to serve a broken pipe wi’ tow. Ten pound was all the pressure then — Eh! Eh! — a man wad drive; An’ here, our workin’ gauges give one hunder fifty-five! We’re creepin’ on wi’ each new rig — less weight an’ larger power: There’ll be the loco-boiler next an’ thirty knots an hour! Thirty an’ more. What I ha’ seen since ocean-steam began Leaves me no doot for the machine: but what about the man? The man that counts, wi’ all his runs, one million mile o’ sea: Four time the span from earth to moon. . . . How far, O Lord, from Thee? That wast beside him night an’ day. Ye mind my first typhoon? It scoughed the skipper on his way to jock wi’ the saloon. Three feet were on the stokehold-floor — just slappin’ to an’ fro — An’ cast me on a furnace-door. I have the marks to show. Marks! I ha’ marks o’ more than burns — deep in my soul an’ black, An’ times like this, when things go smooth, my wickudness comes back. The sins o’ four and forty years, all up an’ down the seas, Clack an’ repeat like valves half-fed. . . . Forgie’s our trespasses. Nights when I’d come on deck to mark, wi’ envy in my gaze, The couples kittlin’ in the dark between the funnel stays; Years when I raked the ports wi’ pride to fill my cup o’ wrong — Judge not, O Lord, my steps aside at Gay Street in Hong-Kong! Blot out the wastrel hours of mine in sin when I abode — Jane Harrigan’s an’ Number Nine, The Reddick an’ Grant Road! An’ waur than all — my crownin’ sin — rank blasphemy an’ wild. I was not four and twenty then — Ye wadna judge a child? I’d seen the Tropics first that run — new fruit, new smells, new air — How could I tell — blind-fou wi’ sun — the Deil was lurkin’ there? By day like playhouse-scenes the shore slid past our sleepy eyes; By night those soft, lasceevious stars leered from those velvet skies, In port (we used no cargo-steam) I’d daunder down the streets — An ijjit grinnin’ in a dream — for shells an’ parrakeets, An’ walkin’-sticks o’ carved bamboo an’ blowfish stuffed an’ dried — Fillin’ my bunk wi’ rubbishry the Chief put overside. Till, off Sambawa Head, Ye mind, I heard a land-breeze ca’, Milk-warm wi’ breath o’ spice an’ bloom: “M’Andrew, come awa’!” Firm, clear an’ low — no haste, no hate — the ghostly whisper went, Just statin’ eevidential facts beyon’ all argument: “Your mither’s God’s a graspin’ deil, the shadow o’ yoursel’, Got out o’ books by meenisters clean daft on Heaven an’ Hell. They mak’ Him in the Broomielaw, o’ Glasgie cold an’ dirt, A jealous, pridefu’ fetich, lad, that’s only strong to hurt, Ye’ll not go back to Him again an’ kiss His red-hot rod, But come wi’ Us” (Now, who were ~They~?) “an’ know the Leevin’ God, That does not kipper souls for sport or break a life in jest, But swells the ripenin’ cocoanuts an’ ripes the woman’s breast.” An’ there it stopped: cut off: no more; that quiet, certain voice — For me, six months o’ twenty-four, to leave or take at choice. ‘Twas on me like a thunderclap — it racked me through an’ through — Temptation past the show o’ speech, unnameable an’ new — The Sin against the Holy Ghost? . . . An’ under all, our screw. That storm blew by but left behind her anchor-shiftin’ swell, Thou knowest all my heart an’ mind, Thou knowest, Lord, I fell. Third on the ~Mary Gloster~ then, and first that night in Hell! Yet was Thy hand beneath my head, about my feet Thy care — Fra’ Deli clear to Torres Strait, the trial o’ despair, But when we touched the Barrier Reef Thy answer to my prayer! We dared not run that sea by night but lay an’ held our fire, An’ I was drowsin’ on the hatch — sick — sick wi’ doubt an’ tire: “~Better the sight of eyes that see than wanderin’ o’ desire!~” Ye mind that word? Clear as our gongs — again, an’ once again, When rippin’ down through coral-trash ran out our moorin’-chain; An’ by Thy Grace I had the Light to see my duty plain. Light on the engine-room — no more — bright as our carbons burn. I’ve lost it since a thousand times, but never past return.
. . . . .

Obsairve. Per annum we’ll have here two thousand souls aboard — Think not I dare to justify myself before the Lord, But — average fifteen hunder souls safe-borne fra’ port to port — I ~am~ o’ service to my kind. Ye wadna blame the thought? Maybe they steam from grace to wrath — to sin by folly led, — It isna mine to judge their path — their lives are on my head. Mine at the last — when all is done it all comes back to me, The fault that leaves six thousand ton a log upon the sea. We’ll tak’ one stretch — three weeks an’ odd by any road ye steer — Fra’ Cape Town east to Wellington — ye need an engineer. Fail there — ye’ve time to weld your shaft — ay, eat it, ere ye’re spoke; Or make Kerguelen under sail — three jiggers burned wi’ smoke! An’ home again, the Rio run: it’s no child’s play to go Steamin’ to bell for fourteen days o’ snow an’ floe an’ blow — The bergs like kelpies overside that girn an’ turn an’ shift Whaur, grindin’ like the Mills o’ God, goes by the big South drift. (Hail, snow an’ ice that praise the Lord: I’ve met them at their work, An’ wished we had anither route or they anither kirk.) Yon’s strain, hard strain, o’ head an’ hand, for though Thy Power brings All skill to naught, Ye’ll understand a man must think o’ things. Then, at the last, we’ll get to port an’ hoist their baggage clear — The passengers, wi’ gloves an’ canes — an’ this is what I’ll hear: “Well, thank ye for a pleasant voyage. The tender’s comin’ now.” While I go testin’ follower-bolts an’ watch the skipper bow. They’ve words for every one but me — shake hands wi’ half the crew, Except the dour Scots engineer, the man they never knew. An’ yet I like the wark for all we’ve dam’ few pickin’s here — No pension, an’ the most we earn’s four hunder pound a year. Better myself abroad? Maybe. ~I’d~ sooner starve than sail Wi’ such as call a snifter-rod ~ross~. . .French for nightingale. Commeesion on my stores? Some do; but I can not afford To lie like stewards wi’ patty-pans –. I’m older than the Board. A bonus on the coal I save? Ou ay, the Scots are close, But when I grudge the strength Ye gave I’ll grudge their food to ~those~. (There’s bricks that I might recommend — an’ clink the fire-bars cruel. No! Welsh — Wangarti at the worst — an’ damn all patent fuel!) Inventions? Ye must stay in port to mak’ a patent pay. My Deeferential Valve-Gear taught me how that business lay, I blame no chaps wi’ clearer head for aught they make or sell. ~I~ found that I could not invent an’ look to these — as well. So, wrestled wi’ Apollyon — Nah! — fretted like a bairn — But burned the workin’-plans last run wi’ all I hoped to earn. Ye know how hard an Idol dies, an’ what that meant to me — E’en tak’ it for a sacrifice acceptable to Thee. . . . ~Below there! Oiler! What’s your wark? Ye find it runnin’ hard? Ye needn’t swill the cap wi’ oil — this isn’t the Cunard! Ye thought? Ye are not paid to think. Go, sweat that off again!~ Tck! Tck! It’s deeficult to sweer nor tak’ The Name in vain! Men, ay an’ women, call me stern. Wi’ these to oversee Ye’ll note I’ve little time to burn on social repartee. The bairns see what their elders miss; they’ll hunt me to an’ fro, Till for the sake of — well, a kiss — I tak’ ’em down below. That minds me of our Viscount loon — Sir Kenneth’s kin — the chap Wi’ Russia leather tennis-shoon an’ spar-decked yachtin’-cap. I showed him round last week, o’er all — an’ at the last says he: “Mister M’Andrew, don’t you think steam spoils romance at sea?” Damned ijjit! I’d been doon that morn to see what ailed the throws, Manholin’, on my back — the cranks three inches off my nose. Romance! Those first-class passengers they like it very well, Printed an’ bound in little books; but why don’t poets tell? I’m sick of all their quirks an’ turns — the loves an’ doves they dream — Lord, send a man like Robbie Burns to sing the Song o’ Steam! To match wi’ Scotia’s noblest speech yon orchestra sublime Whaurto — uplifted like the Just — the tail-rods mark the time. The crank-throws give the double-bass, the feed-pump sobs an’ heaves, An’ now the main eccentrics start their quarrel on the sheaves: Her time, her own appointed time, the rocking link-head bides, Till — hear that note? — the rod’s return whings glimmerin’ through the guides.
They’re all awa’! True beat, full power, the clangin’ chorus goes Clear to the tunnel where they sit, my purrin’ dynamos. Interdependence absolute, foreseen, ordained, decreed, To work, Ye’ll note, at any tilt an’ every rate o’ speed. Fra’ skylight-lift to furnace-bars, backed, bolted, braced an’ stayed, An’ singin’ like the Mornin’ Stars for joy that they are made; While, out o’ touch o’ vanity, the sweatin’ thrust-block says: “Not unto us the praise, or man — not unto us the praise!” Now, a’ together, hear them lift their lesson — theirs an’ mine: “Law, Orrder, Duty an’ Restraint, Obedience, Discipline!” Mill, forge an’ try-pit taught them that when roarin’ they arose, An’ whiles I wonder if a soul was gied them wi’ the blows. Oh for a man to weld it then, in one trip-hammer strain, Till even first-class passengers could tell the meanin’ plain! But no one cares except mysel’ that serve an’ understand My seven thousand horse-power here.
Eh, Lord! They’re grand — they’re grand! Uplift am I? When first in store the new-made beasties stood, Were Ye cast down that breathed the Word declarin’ all things good? Not so! O’ that warld-liftin’ joy no after-fall could vex, Ye’ve left a glimmer still to cheer the Man — the Arrtifex! ~That~ holds, in spite o’ knock and scale, o’ friction, waste an’ slip, An’ by that light — now, mark my word — we’ll build the Perfect Ship. I’ll never last to judge her lines or take her curve — not I. But I ha’ lived an’ I ha’ worked. ‘Be thanks to Thee, Most High! An’ I ha’ done what I ha’ done — judge Thou if ill or well — Always Thy Grace preventin’ me. . . .
Losh! Yon’s the “Stand by” bell. Pilot so soon? His flare it is. The mornin’-watch is set. Well, God be thanked, as I was sayin’, I’m no Pelagian yet. Now I’ll tak’ on. . . .
~’Morrn, Ferguson. Man, have ye ever thought What your good leddy costs in coal? . . . I’ll burn ’em down to port.~


I sent a message to my dear —
A thousand leagues and more to Her — The dumb sea-levels thrilled to hear,
And Lost Atlantis bore to Her.

Behind my message hard I came,
And nigh had found a grave for me; But that I launched of steel and flame
Did war against the wave for me.

Uprose the deep, by gale on gale,
To bid me change my mind again —
He broke his teeth along my rail,
And, roaring, swung behind again.

I stayed the sun at noon to tell
My way across the waste of it;
I read the storm before it fell
And made the better haste of it.

Afar, I hailed the land at night — The towers I built had heard of me —
And, ere my rocket reached its height, Had flashed my Love the word of me.

Earth sold her chosen men of strength (They lived and strove and died for me) To drive my road a nation’s length,
And toss the miles aside for me.

I snatched their toil to serve my needs — Too slow their fleetest flew for me —
I tired twenty smoking steeds,
And bade them bait a new for me.

I sent the lightnings forth to see
Where hour by hour She waited me.
Among ten million one was She,
And surely all men hated me!

Dawn ran to meet me at my goal —
Ah, day no tongue shall tell again! And little folk of little soul
Rose up to buy and sell again!


We’ve drunk to the Queen — God bless her! — We’ve drunk to our mothers’ land;
We’ve drunk to our English brother (But he does not understand);
We’ve drunk to the wide creation, And the Cross swings low for the morn; Last toast, and of obligation,
A health to the Native-born!

They change their skies above them, But not their hearts that roam!
We learned from our wistful mothers To call old England “home”;
We read of the English skylark,
Of the spring in the English lanes, But we screamed with the painted lories As we rode on the dusty plains!

They passed with their old-world legends — Their tales of wrong and dearth —
Our fathers held by purchase,
But we by the right of birth;
Our heart’s where they rocked our cradle, Our love where we spent our toil,
And our faith and our hope and our honour We pledge to our native soil!

I charge you charge your glasses — I charge you drink with me
To the men of the Four New Nations, And the Islands of the Sea —
To the last least lump of coral
That none may stand outside,
And our own good pride shall teach us To praise our comrade’s pride!

To the hush of the breathless morning On the thin, tin, crackling roofs,
To the haze of the burned back-ranges And the dust of the shoeless hoofs —
To the risk of a death by drowning, To the risk of a death by drouth —
To the men of a million acres,
To the Sons of the Golden South!

To the Sons of the Golden South (Stand up!), And the life we live and know,
Let a fellow sing o’ the little things he cares about, If a fellow fights for the little things he cares about With the weight of a single blow!

To the smoke of a hundred coasters, To the sheep on a thousand hills,
To the sun that never blisters,
To the rain that never chills —
To the land of the waiting spring-time, To our five-meal, meat-fed men,
To the tall, deep-bosomed women,
And the children nine and ten!

And the children nine and ten (Stand up!), And the life we live and know,
Let a fellow sing o’ the little things he cares about, If a fellow fights for the little things he cares about With the weight of a two-fold blow!

To the far-flung fenceless prairie
Where the quick cloud-shadows trail, To our neighbour’s barn in the offing
And the line of the new-cut rail;
To the plough in her league-long furrow With the gray Lake gulls behind —
To the weight of a half-year’s winter And the warm wet western wind!

To the home of the floods and thunder, To her pale dry healing blue —
To the lift of the great Cape combers, And the smell of the baked Karroo.
To the growl of the sluicing stamp-head — To the reef and the water-gold,
To the last and the largest Empire, To the map that is half unrolled!

To our dear dark foster-mothers,
To the heathen songs they sung —
To the heathen speech we babbled
Ere we came to the white man’s tongue. To the cool of our deep verandas —
To the blaze of our jewelled main, To the night, to the palms in the moonlight, And the fire-fly in the cane!

To the hearth of our people’s people — To her well-ploughed windy sea,
To the hush of our dread high-altar Where The Abbey makes us We;
To the grist of the slow-ground ages, To the gain that is yours and mine —
To the Bank of the Open Credit,
To the Power-house of the Line!

We’ve drunk to the Queen — God bless her! — We’ve drunk to our mothers’ land;
We’ve drunk to our English brother
(And we hope he’ll understand).
We’ve drunk as much as we’re able,
And the Cross swings low for the morn; Last toast — and your foot on the table! — A health to the Native-born!

A health to the Native-born (Stand up!), We’re six white men arow,
All bound to sing o’ the little things we care about, All bound to fight for the little things we care about With the weight of a six-fold blow!
By the might of our cable-tow (Take hands!), From the Orkneys to the Horn,
All round the world (and a little loop to pull it by), All round the world (and a little strap to buckle it), A health to the Native-born!


“Farewell, Romance!” the Cave-men said; “With bone well carved he went away,
Flint arms the ignoble arrowhead,
And jasper tips the spear to-day.
Changed are the Gods of Hunt and Dance, And he with these. Farewell, Romance!”

“Farewell, Romance!” the Lake-folk sighed; “We lift the weight of flatling years;
The caverns of the mountain-side
Hold him who scorns our hutted piers. Lost hills whereby we dare not dwell,
Guard ye his rest. Romance, farewell!”
“Farewell, Romance!” the Soldier spoke; “By sleight of sword we may not win,
But scuffle ‘mid uncleanly smoke
Of arquebus and culverin.
Honour is lost, and none may tell
Who paid good blows. Romance, farewell!”
“Farewell, Romance!” the Traders cried; Our keels ha’ lain with every sea;
The dull-returning wind and tide
Heave up the wharf where we would be; The known and noted breezes swell
Our trudging sail. Romance, farewell!”
“Good-bye, Romance!” the Skipper said; “He vanished with the coal we burn;
Our dial marks full steam ahead,
Our speed is timed to half a turn. Sure as the ferried barge we ply
‘Twixt port and port. Romance, good-bye!”
“Romance!” the season-tickets mourn, “~He~ never ran to catch his train,
But passed with coach and guard and horn — And left the local — late again!”
Confound Romance! . . . And all unseen Romance brought up the nine-fifteen.

His hand was on the lever laid,
His oil-can soothed the worrying cranks, His whistle waked the snowbound grade,
His fog-horn cut the reeking Banks; By dock and deep and mine and mill
The Boy-god reckless laboured still!
Robed, crowned and throned, he wove his spell, Where heart-blood beat or hearth-smoke curled, With unconsidered miracle,
Hedged in a backward-gazing world; Then taught his chosen bard to say:
“Our King was with us — yesterday!”


Away by the lands of the Japanee Where the paper lanterns glow
And the crews of all the shipping drink In the house of Blood Street Joe,
At twilight, when the landward breeze Brings up the harbour noise,
And ebb of Yokohama Bay
Swigs chattering through the buoys, In Cisco’s Dewdrop Dining-Rooms
They tell the tale anew
Of a hidden sea and a hidden fight, When the ~Baltic~ ran from the ~Northern Light~ And the ~Stralsund~ fought the two.

Now this is the Law of the Muscovite, that he proves with shot and steel, When ye come by his isles in the Smoky Sea ye must not take the seal, Where the gray sea goes nakedly between the weed-hung shelves, And the little blue fox he is bred for his skin and the seal they breed for themselves; For when the ~matkas~ seek the shore to drop their pups aland, The great man-seal haul out of the sea, a-roaring, band by band; And when the first September gales have slaked their rutting-wrath, The great man-seal haul back to the sea and no man knows their path. Then dark they lie and stark they lie — rookery, dune, and floe, And the Northern Lights come down o’ nights to dance with the houseless snow; And God Who clears the grounding berg and steers the grinding floe, He hears the cry of the little kit-fox and the wind along the snow. But since our women must walk gay and money buys their gear, The sealing-boats they filch that way at hazard year by year. English they be and Japanee that hang on the Brown Bear’s flank, And some be Scot, but the worst of the lot, and the boldest thieves, be Yank!
It was the sealer ~Northern Light~, to the Smoky Seas she bore, With a stovepipe stuck from a starboard port and the Russian flag at her fore. (~Baltic~, ~Stralsund~, and ~Northern Light~ — oh! they were birds of a feather —
Slipping away to the Smoky Seas, three seal-thieves together!) And at last she came to a sandy cove and the Baltic lay therein, But her men were up with the herding seal to drive and club and skin. There were fifteen hundred skins abeach, cool pelt and proper fur, When the ~Northern Light~ drove into the bight and the sea-mist drove with her.
The ~Baltic~ called her men and weighed — she could not choose but run — For a stovepipe seen through the closing mist, it shows like a four-inch gun. (And loss it is that is sad as death to lose both trip and ship And lie for a rotting contraband on Vladivostock slip.) She turned and dived in the sea-smother as a rabbit dives in the whins, And the ~Northern Light~ sent up her boats to steal the stolen skins. They had not brought a load to side or slid their hatches clear, When they were aware of a sloop-of-war, ghost-white and very near. Her flag she showed, and her guns she showed — three of them, black, abeam, And a funnel white with the crusted salt, but never a show of steam.
There was no time to man the brakes, they knocked the shackle free, And the ~Northern Light~ stood out again, goose-winged to open sea. (For life it is that is worse than death, by force of Russian law To work in the mines of mercury that loose the teeth in your jaw.) They had not run a mile from shore — they heard no shots behind — When the skipper smote his hand on his thigh and threw her up in the wind: “Bluffed — raised out on a bluff,” said he, “for if my name’s Tom Hall, You must set a thief to catch a thief — and a thief has caught us all! By every butt in Oregon and every spar in Maine, The hand that spilled the wind from her sail was the hand of Reuben Paine! He has rigged and trigged her with paint and spar, and, faith, he has faked her well —
But I’d know the ~Stralsund~’s deckhouse yet from here to the booms o’ Hell. Oh, once we ha’ met at Baltimore, and twice on Boston pier, But the sickest day for you, Reuben Paine, was the day that you came here — The day that you came here, my lad, to scare us from our seal With your funnel made o’ your painted cloth, and your guns o’ rotten deal! Ring and blow for the ~Baltic~ now, and head her back to the bay, And we’ll come into the game again — with a double deck to play!”
They rang and blew the sealers’ call — the poaching cry of the sea — And they raised the ~Baltic~ out of the mist, and an angry ship was she: And blind they groped through the whirling white and blind to the bay again, Till they heard the creak of the ~Stralsund~’s boom and the clank of her mooring chain.
They laid them down by bitt and boat, their pistols in their belts, And: “Will you fight for it, Reuben Paine, or will you share the pelts?”
A dog-toothed laugh laughed Reuben Paine, and bared his flenching-knife. “Yea, skin for skin, and all that he hath a man will give for his life; But I’ve six thousand skins below, and Yeddo Port to see, And there’s never a law of God or man runs north of Fifty-Three: So go in peace to the naked seas with empty holds to fill, And I’ll be good to your seal this catch, as many as I shall kill!”
Answered the snap of a closing lock and the jar of a gun-butt slid, But the tender fog shut fold on fold to hide the wrong they did. The weeping fog rolled fold on fold the wrath of man to cloak, And the flame-spurts pale ran down the rail as the sealing-rifles spoke. The bullets bit on bend and butt, the splinter slivered free (Little they trust to sparrow-dust that stop the seal in his sea!), The thick smoke hung and would not shift, leaden it lay and blue, But three were down on the ~Baltic~’s deck and two of the ~Stralsund~’s crew. An arm’s-length out and overside the banked fog held them bound, But, as they heard or groan or word, they fired at the sound. For one cried out on the Name of God, and one to have him cease, And the questing volley found them both and bade them hold their peace; And one called out on a heathen joss and one on the Virgin’s Name, And the schooling bullet leaped across and showed them whence they came. And in the waiting silences the rudder whined beneath, And each man drew his watchful breath slow taken ‘tween the teeth — Trigger and ear and eye acock, knit brow and hard-drawn lips — Bracing his feet by chock and cleat for the rolling of the ships. Till they heard the cough of a wounded man that fought in the fog for breath, Till they heard the torment of Reuben Paine that wailed upon his death:
“The tides they’ll go through Fundy Race but I’ll go nevermore And see the hogs from ebb-tide mark turn scampering back to shore. No more I’ll see the trawlers drift below the Bass Rock ground, Or watch the tall Fall steamer lights tear blazing up the Sound. Sorrow is me, in a lonely sea and a sinful fight I fall, But if there’s law o’ God or man you’ll swing for it yet, Tom Hall!” Tom Hall stood up by the quarter-rail. “Your words in your teeth,” said he. “There’s never a law of God or man runs north of Fifty-Three. So go in grace with Him to face, and an ill-spent life behind, And I’ll be good to your widows, Rube, as many as I shall find.”
A ~Stralsund~ man shot blind and large, and a war-lock Finn was he, And he hit Tom Hall with a bursting ball a hand’s-breadth over the knee. Tom Hall caught hold by the topping-lift, and sat him down with an oath, “You’ll wait a little, Rube,” he said, “the Devil has called for both. The Devil is driving both this tide, and the killing-grounds are close, And we’ll go up to the Wrath of God as the holluschickie goes. O men, put back your guns again and lay your rifles by, We’ve fought our fight, and the best are down. Let up and let us die! Quit firing, by the bow there — quit! Call off the ~Baltic~’s crew! You’re sure of Hell as me or Rube — but wait till we get through.” There went no word between the ships, but thick and quick and loud The life-blood drummed on the dripping decks, with the fog-dew from the shroud,
The sea-pull drew them side by side, gunnel to gunnel laid, And they felt the sheerstrakes pound and clear, but never a word was said.
Then Reuben Paine cried out again before his spirit passed: “Have I followed the sea for thirty years to die in the dark at last? Curse on her work that has nipped me here with a shifty trick unkind — I have gotten my death where I got my bread, but I dare not face it blind. Curse on the fog! Is there never a wind of all the winds I knew To clear the smother from off my chest, and let me look at the blue?” The good fog heard — like a splitten sail, to left and right she tore, And they saw the sun-dogs in the haze and the seal upon the shore. Silver and gray ran spit and bay to meet the steel-backed tide, And pinched and white in the clearing light the crews stared overside. O rainbow-gay the red pools lay that swilled and spilled and spread, And gold, raw gold, the spent shell rolled between the careless dead — The dead that rocked so drunkenwise to weather and to lee, And they saw the work their hands had done as God had bade them see.
And a little breeze blew over the rail that made the headsails lift, But no man stood by wheel or sheet, and they let the schooners drift. And the rattle rose in Reuben’s throat and he cast his soul with a cry, And “Gone already?” Tom Hall he said. “Then it’s time for me to die.” His eyes were heavy with great sleep and yearning for the land, And he spoke as a man that talks in dreams, his wound beneath his hand. “Oh, there comes no good o’ the westering wind that backs against the sun; Wash down the decks — they’re all too red — and share the skins and run, ~Baltic~, ~Stralsund~, and ~Northern Light~ — clean share and share for all, You’ll find the fleets off Tolstoi Mees, but you will not find Tom Hall. Evil he did in shoal-water and blacker sin on the deep, But now he’s sick of watch and trick and now he’ll turn and sleep. He’ll have no more of the crawling sea that made him suffer so, But he’ll lie down on the killing-grounds where the holluschickie go. And west you’ll sail and south again, beyond the sea-fog’s rim, And tell the Yoshiwara girls to burn a stick for him. And you’ll not weight him by the heels and dump him overside, But carry him up to the sand-hollows to die as Bering died, And make a place for Reuben Paine that knows the fight was fair, And leave the two that did the wrong to talk it over there!”
Half-steam ahead by guess and lead, for the sun is mostly veiled — Through fog to fog, by luck and log, sail ye as Bering sailed; And if the light shall lift aright to give your landfall plain, North and by west, from Zapne Crest, ye raise the Crosses Twain. Fair marks are they to the inner bay, the reckless poacher knows What time the scarred see-catchie lead their sleek seraglios. Ever they hear the floe-pack clear, and the blast of the old bull-whale, And the deep seal-roar that beats off-shore above the loudest gale. Ever they wait the winter’s hate as the thundering ~boorga~ calls, Where northward look they to St. George, and westward to St. Paul’s. Ever they greet the hunted fleet — lone keels off headlands drear — When the sealing-schooners flit that way at hazard year by year. Ever in Yokohama port men tell the tale anew Of a hidden sea and a hidden fight,
When the ~Baltic~ ran from the ~Northern Light~ And the ~Stralsund~ fought the two.


~And reports the derelict ~Mary Pollock~ still at sea.~ SHIPPING NEWS.

I was the staunchest of our fleet Till the sea rose beneath our feet
Unheralded, in hatred past all measure. Into his pits he stamped my crew,
Buffeted, blinded, bound and threw, Bidding me eyeless wait upon his pleasure.
Man made me, and my will
Is to my maker still,
Whom now the currents con, the rollers steer — Lifting forlorn to spy
Trailed smoke along the sky,
Falling afraid lest any keel come near!
Wrenched as the lips of thirst,
Wried, dried, and split and burst, Bone-bleached my decks, wind-scoured to the graining; And jarred at every roll
The gear that was my soul
Answers the anguish of my beams’ complaining.
For life that crammed me full,
Gangs of the prying gull
That shriek and scrabble on the riven hatches! For roar that dumbed the gale,
My hawse-pipes guttering wail,
Sobbing my heart out through the uncounted watches!
Blind in the hot blue ring
Through all my points I swing —
Swing and return to shift the sun anew. Blind in my well-known sky
I hear the stars go by,
Mocking the prow that cannot hold one true!
White on my wasted path
Wave after wave in wrath
Frets ‘gainst his fellow, warring where to send me. Flung forward, heaved aside,
Witless and dazed I bide
The mercy of the comber that shall end me.
North where the bergs careen,
The spray of seas unseen
Smokes round my head and freezes in the falling; South where the corals breed,
The footless, floating weed
Folds me and fouls me, strake on strake upcrawling.
I that was clean to run
My race against the sun —
Strength on the deep, am bawd to all disaster — Whipped forth by night to meet
My sister’s careless feet,
And with a kiss betray her to my master!
Man made me, and my will
Is to my maker still —
To him and his, our peoples at their pier: Lifting in hope to spy
Trailed smoke along the sky,
Falling afraid lest any keel come near!


A Rose, in tatters on the garden path, Cried out to God and murmured ‘gainst His Wrath, Because a sudden wind at twilight’s hush Had snapped her stem alone of all the bush. And God, Who hears both sun-dried dust and sun, Had pity, whispering to that luckless one, “Sister, in that thou sayest We did not well — What voices heardst thou when thy petals fell?” And the Rose answered, “In that evil hour A voice said, `Father, wherefore falls the flower? For lo, the very gossamers are still.’
And a voice answered, `Son, by Allah’s will!'”
Then softly as a rain-mist on the sward, Came to the Rose the Answer of the Lord: “Sister, before We smote the dark in twain, Ere yet the stars saw one another plain, Time, Tide, and Space, We bound unto the task That thou shouldst fall, and such an one should ask.” Whereat the withered flower, all content, Died as they die whose days are innocent; While he who questioned why the flower fell Caught hold of God and saved his soul from Hell.


You couldn’t pack a Broadwood half a mile — You mustn’t leave a fiddle in the damp — You couldn’t raft an organ up the Nile,
And play it in an Equatorial swamp. ~I~ travel with the cooking-pots and pails — ~I’m~ sandwiched ‘tween the coffee and the pork — And when the dusty column checks and tails, You should hear me spur the rear-guard to a walk! With my “~Pilly-willy-winky-winky popp!~” [Oh, it’s any tune that comes into my head!] So I keep ’em moving forward till they drop; So I play ’em up to water and to bed.
In the silence of the camp before the fight, When it’s good to make your will and say your prayer, You can hear my ~strumpty-tumpty~ overnight Explaining ten to one was always fair.
I’m the Prophet of the Utterly Absurd, Of the Patently Impossible and Vain —
And when the Thing that Couldn’t has occurred, Give me time to change my leg and go again. With my “~Tumpa-tumpa-tumpa-tum-pa tump!~” In the desert where the dung-fed camp-smoke curled There was never voice before us till I led our lonely chorus, I — the war-drum of the White Man round the world!
By the bitter road the Younger Son must tread, Ere he win to hearth and saddle of his own, — ‘Mid the riot of the shearers at the shed, In the silence of the herder’s hut alone — In the twilight, on a bucket upside down, Hear me babble what the weakest won’t confess — I am Memory and Torment — I am Town!
I am all that ever went with evening dress! With my “~Tunk-a tunka-tunka-tunka-tunk!~” [So the lights — the London Lights — grow near and plain!] So I rowel ’em afresh towards the Devil and the Flesh, Till I bring my broken rankers home again.
In desire of many marvels over sea, Where the new-raised tropic city sweats and roars, I have sailed with Young Ulysses from the quay Till the anchor rumbled down on stranger shores. He is blooded to the open and the sky,
He is taken in a snare that shall not fail, He shall hear me singing strongly, till he die, Like the shouting of a backstay in a gale. With my “~Hya! Heeya! Heeya! Hullah! Haul!~” [O the green that thunders aft along the deck!] Are you sick o’ towns and men? You must sign and sail again, For it’s “Johnny Bowlegs, pack your kit and trek!”
Through the gorge that gives the stars at noon-day clear — Up the pass that packs the scud beneath our wheel — Round the bluff that sinks her thousand fathom sheer — Down the valley with our guttering brakes asqueal: Where the trestle groans and quivers in the snow, Where the many-shedded levels loop and twine, So I lead my reckless children from below Till we sing the Song of Roland to the pine. With my “~Tinka-tinka-tinka-tinka-tink!~” [And the axe has cleared the mountain, croup and crest!] So we ride the iron stallions down to drink, Through the ca]~nons to the waters of the West!
And the tunes that mean so much to you alone — Common tunes that make you choke and blow your nose, Vulgar tunes that bring the laugh that brings the groan — I can rip your very heartstrings out with those; With the feasting, and the folly, and the fun — And the lying, and the lusting, and the drink, And the merry play that drops you, when you’re done, To the thoughts that burn like irons if you think. With my “~Plunka-lunka-lunka-lunka-lunk!~” Here’s a trifle on account of pleasure past, Ere the wit that made you win gives you eyes to see your sin And the heavier repentance at the last!
Let the organ moan her sorrow to the roof — I have told the naked stars the Grief of Man! Let the trumpets snare the foeman to the proof — I have known Defeat, and mocked it as we ran! My bray ye may not alter nor mistake
When I stand to jeer the fatted Soul of Things, But the Song of Lost Endeavour that I make, Is it hidden in the twanging of the strings? With my “~Ta-ra-rara-rara-ra-ra-rrrp!~” [Is it naught to you that hear and pass me by?] But the word — the word is mine, when the order moves the line And the lean, locked ranks go roaring down to die.
Of the driven dust of speech I make a flame And a scourge of broken withes that men let fall: For the words that had no honour till I came — Lo! I raise them into honour over all!
By the wisdom of the centuries I speak — To the tune of yestermorn I set the truth — I, the joy of life unquestioned — I, the Greek — I, the everlasting Wonder Song of Youth! With my “~Tinka-tinka-tinka-tinka-tink!~” [What d’ye lack, my noble masters? What d’ye lack?] So I draw the world together link by link: Yea, from Delos up to Limerick and back!


The Liner she’s a lady, an’ she never looks nor ‘eeds — The Man-o’-War’s ‘er ‘usband, an’ ‘e gives ‘er all she needs; But, oh, the little cargo-boats, that sail the wet seas roun’, They’re just the same as you an’ me a-plyin’ up an’ down!
Plyin’ up an’ down, Jenny, ‘angin’ round the Yard, All the way by Fratton tram down to Portsmouth ‘Ard; Anythin’ for business, an’ we’re growin’ old — Plyin’ up an’ down, Jenny, waitin’ in the cold!
The Liner she’s a lady by the paint upon ‘er face, An’ if she meets an accident they count it sore disgrace: The Man-o’-War’s ‘er ‘usband, and ‘e’s always ‘andy by, But, oh, the little cargo-boats! they’ve got to load or die.
The Liner she’s a lady, and ‘er route is cut an’ dried; The Man-o’-War’s ‘er ‘usband, an’ ‘e always keeps beside; But, oh, the little cargo-boats that ‘aven’t any man, They’ve got to do their business first, and make the most they can!
The Liner she’s a lady, and if a war should come, The Man-o’-War’s ‘er ‘usband, and ‘e’d bid ‘er stay at home; But, oh, the little cargo-boats that fill with every tide! ‘E’d ‘ave to up an’ fight for them, for they are England’s pride.
The Liner she’s a lady, but if she wasn’t made, There still would be the cargo-boats for ‘ome an’ foreign trade. The Man-o’-War’s ‘er ‘usband, but if we wasn’t ‘ere, ‘E wouldn’t have to fight at all for ‘ome an’ friends so dear.
‘Ome an’ friends so dear, Jenny, ‘angin’ round the Yard, All the way by Fratton tram down to Portsmouth ‘Ard; Anythin’ for business, an’ we’re growin’ old — ‘Ome an’ friends so dear, Jenny, waitin’ in the cold!


The fear was on the cattle, for the gale was on the sea, An’ the pens broke up on the lower deck an’ let the creatures free — An’ the lights went out on the lower deck, an’ no one near but me.
I had been singin’ to them to keep ’em quiet there, For the lower deck is the dangerousest, requirin’ constant care, An’ give to me as the strongest man, though used to drink and swear.
I see my chance was certain of bein’ horned or trod, For the lower deck was packed with steers thicker’n peas in a pod, An’ more pens broke at every roll — so I made a Contract with God.
An’ by the terms of the Contract, as I have read the same, If He got me to port alive I would exalt His Name, An’ praise His Holy Majesty till further orders came.
He saved me from the cattle an’ He saved me from the sea, For they found me ‘tween two drownded ones where the roll had landed me — An’ a four-inch crack on top of my head, as crazy as could be.
But that were done by a stanchion, an’ not by a bullock at all, An’ I lay still for seven weeks convalessing of the fall, An’ readin’ the shiny Scripture texts in the Seaman’s Hospital.
An’ I spoke to God of our Contract, an’ He says to my prayer: “I never puts on My ministers no more than they can bear. So back you go to the cattle-boats an’ preach My Gospel there.
“For human life is chancy at any kind of trade, But most of all, as well you know, when the steers are mad-afraid; So you go back to the cattle-boats an’ preach ’em as I’ve said.
“They must quit drinkin’ an’ swearin’, they mustn’t knife on a blow, They must quit gamblin’ their wages, and you must preach it so; For now those boats are more like Hell than anything else I know.”
I didn’t want to do it, for I knew what I should get, An’ I wanted to preach Religion, handsome an’ out of the wet, But the Word of the Lord were lain on me, an’ I done what I was set.
I have been smit an’ bruis]\ed, as warned would be the case, An’ turned my cheek to the smiter exactly as Scripture says; But following that, I knocked him down an’ led him up to Grace.
An’ we have preaching on Sundays whenever the sea is calm, An’ I use no knife or pistol an’ I never take no harm, For the Lord abideth back of me to guide my fighting arm.
An’ I sign for four-pound-ten a month and save the money clear, An’ I am in charge of the lower deck, an’ I never lose a steer; An’ I believe in Almighty God an’ preach His Gospel here.
The skippers say I’m crazy, but I can prove ’em wrong, For I am in charge of the lower deck with all that doth belong — ~Which they would not give to a lunatic, and the competition so strong!~


Heh! Walk her round. Heave, ah heave her short again! Over, snatch her over, there, and hold her on the pawl. Loose all sail, and brace your yards back and full — Ready jib to pay her off and heave short all! Well, ah fare you well; we can stay no more with you, my love — Down, set down your liquor and your girl from off your knee; For the wind has come to say:
“You must take me while you may, If you’d go to Mother Carey
(Walk her down to Mother Carey!), Oh, we’re bound to Mother Carey where she feeds her chicks at sea!”
Heh! Walk her round. Break, ah break it out o’ that! Break our starboard-bower out, apeak, awash, and clear. Port — port she casts, with the harbour-mud beneath her foot, And that’s the last o’ bottom we shall see this year! Well, ah fare you well, for we’ve got to take her out again — Take her out in ballast, riding light and cargo-free. And it’s time to clear and quit
When the hawser grips the bitt,
So we’ll pay you with the foresheet and a promise from the sea!
Heh! Tally on. Aft and walk away with her! Handsome to the cathead, now; O tally on the fall! Stop, seize and fish, and easy on the davit-guy. Up, well up the fluke of her, and inboard haul! Well, ah fare you well, for the Channel wind’s took hold of us, Choking down our voices as we snatch the gaskets free. And it’s blowing up for night,
And she’s dropping Light on Light, And she’s snorting under bonnets for a breath of open sea,
Wheel, full and by; but she’ll smell her road alone to-night. Sick she is and harbour-sick — O sick to clear the land! Roll down to Brest with the old Red Ensign over us — Carry on and thrash her out with all she’ll stand! Well, ah fare you well, and it’s Ushant slams the door on us, Whirling like a windmill through the dirty scud to lee: Till the last, last flicker goes
From the tumbling water-rows,
And we’re off to Mother Carey
(Walk her down to Mother Carey!), Oh, we’re bound for Mother Carey where she feeds her chicks at sea!


There’s a Legion that never was ‘listed, That carries no colours or crest,
But, split in a thousand detachments, Is breaking the road for the rest.
Our fathers they left us their blessing — They taught us, and groomed us, and crammed; But we’ve shaken the Clubs and the Messes To go and find out and be damned
(Dear boys!),
To go and get shot and be damned.

So some of us chivy the slaver,
And some of us cherish the black,
And some of us hunt on the Oil Coast, And some on — the Wallaby track:
And some of us drift to Sarawak,
And some of us drift up The Fly,
And some share our tucker with tigers, And some with the gentle Masai
(Dear boys!),
Take tea with the giddy Masai.

We’ve painted The Islands vermilion, We’ve pearled on half-shares in the Bay, We’ve shouted on seven-ounce nuggets,
We’ve starved on a Seedeeboy’s pay; We’ve laughed at the world as we found it — Its women and cities and men —
From Sayyid Burgash in a tantrum
To the smoke-reddened eyes of Loben (Dear boys!),
We’ve a little account with Loben.
The ends o’ the Earth were our portion, The ocean at large was our share.
There was never a skirmish to windward But the Leaderless Legion was there:
Yes, somehow and somewhere and always We were first when the trouble began,
From a lottery-row in Manila,
To an I.D.B. race on the Pan
(Dear boys!),
With the Mounted Police on the Pan.
We preach in advance of the Army,
We skirmish ahead of the Church,
With never a gunboat to help us
When we’re scuppered and left in the lurch. But we know as the cartridges finish,
And we’re filed on our last little shelves, That the Legion that never was ‘listed
Will send us as good as ourselves
(Good men!),
Five hundred as good as ourselves.
Then a health (we must drink it in whispers) To our wholly unauthorised horde —
To the line of our dusty foreloopers, The Gentlemen Rovers abroad —
Yes, a health to ourselves ere we scatter, For the steamer won’t wait for the train, And the Legion that never was ‘listed
Goes back into quarters again!
Goes back under canvas again.
The swag and the billy again.
Here’s how!
The trail and the packhorse again. Salue!
The trek and the laager again.


There dwells a wife by the Northern Gate, And a wealthy wife is she;
She breeds a breed o’ rovin’ men
And casts them over sea.

And some are drowned in deep water, And some in sight o’ shore,
And word goes back to the weary wife And ever she sends more.

For since that wife had gate or gear, Or hearth or garth or bield,
She willed her sons to the white harvest, And that is a bitter yield.

She wills her sons to the wet ploughing, To ride the horse of tree,
And syne her sons come back again
Far-spent from out the sea.

The good wife’s sons come home again With little into their hands,
But the lore of men that ha’ dealt with men In the new and naked lands;

But the faith of men that ha’ brothered men