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“ Take her, O bridegroom, old and gray,
How beautiful she is! How fair
Sail forth into the sea of life,
Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State !
THE BUILDING OF THE SHIP.
And not a rent made by the gale !
I wish to anticipate a criticism on this passage by stating, that sometimes, though not usually, vessels are launched fully rigged and sparred. I have availed myself of the exception, as better suited to my purposes than the general rule ; but the reader will see that it is neither a blunder nor a poetic license. On this subject a friend in Portland, Maine, writes me thus :
“ In this state, and also, I am told, in New York, ships are sometimes rigged upon the stocks, in order to save time, or to make a show. There was a fine, large ship launched last summer at Ellsworth, fully rigged and sparred. Some years ago a ship was launched here, with her rigging, spars, sails, and cargo aboard. She sailed the next day and — was never heard of again! I hope this will not be the fate of your poem!”
THE EVENING STAR.
Just above yon sandy bar,
As the day grows fainter and dimmer, Lonely and lovely, a single star
Lights the air with a dusky glimmer.
Into the ocean faint and far
Falls the trail of its golden splendor, And the gleam of that single star
Is ever refulgent, soft, and tender.
('hrysaor rising out of the sea,
Showed thus glorious and thus emulous, Leaving the arms of Callirrhoe,
For ever tender, soft, and tremulous.
Thus o'er the oceau faint and far
Trailed the gleam of his falchion brightly; Is it a God, or is it a star
That, entranced, I gaze on nightly!
THE SECRET OF THE SEA.
Ah! what pleasant visions haunt me
As I gaze upon the sea ! All the old romantic legends,
All my dreams, come back to me.
Sails of silk and ropes of sendal,
Such as gleam in ancient lore ; And the singing of the sailors,
And the answer from the shore !
Most of all, the Spanish ballad
Haunts me oft, and tarries long, Of the noble Count Arnaldos
And the sailor's mystic song.
Like the long waves on a sea-beach,
Where the sand as silver shines, With a soft, monotonous cadence,
Flow its unrhymed lyric lines ;
Telling how the Count Arnaldos,
With his hawk upon his hand, Saw a fair and stately galley,
Steering onward to the land ;
How he heard the ancient helmsman
Chant a song so wild and clear, That the sailing sea-bird slowly
Poised upon the mast to hear,
Till his soul was full of longing,
And he cried, with impulse strong,– “ Helmsman ! for the love of heaven,
Teach me, too, that wondrous song !”
“Wouldst thou,”—so the helmsman answered,
“Learn the secret of the sea ? Only those who brave its dangers
Comprehend its mystery !”
In each sail that skims the horizon,
In each landward-blowing breeze, I behold that stately galley,
Hear those mournful melodies ;
Till my soul is full of longing
For the secret of the sea,
Sends a thrilling pulse through me.