Cape Cod Ballads and Other Verse by Joseph C. Lincoln

Cape Cod Ballads and Other Verse by Joseph C. Lincoln

CAPE COD BALLADS

THE COD-FISHER

  Where leap the long Atlantic swells
    In foam-streaked stretch of hill and dale,
  Where shrill the north-wind demon yells,
    And flings the spindrift down the gale;
  Where, beaten 'gainst the bending mast,
    The frozen raindrop clings and cleaves,
  With steadfast front for calm or blast
    His battered schooner rocks and heaves.

  To same the gain, to some the loss,
    To each the chance, the risk, the fight:
  For men must die that men may live—
    Lord, may we steer our course aright..

  The dripping deck beneath him reels,
    The flooded scuppers spout the brine;
  He heeds them not, he only feels
    The tugging of a tightened line.

  The grim white sea-fog o'er him throws
    Its clammy curtain, damp and cold;
  He minds it not—his work he knows,
    'T is but to fill an empty hold.

  Oft, driven through the night's blind wrack,
    He feels the dread berg's ghastly breath,
  Or hears draw nigh through walls of black
    A throbbing engine chanting death;
  But with a calm, unwrinkled brow
    He fronts them, grim and undismayed,
  For storm and ice and liner's bow—
    These are but chances of the trade.

  Yet well he knows—where'er it be,
    On low Cape Cod or bluff Cape Ann—
  With straining eyes that search the sea
    A watching woman waits her man:
  He knows it, and his love is deep,
    But work is work, and bread is bread,
  And though men drown and women weep
    The hungry thousands must be fed.

  To some the gain, to some the loss,
    To each his chance, the game with Fate:
  For men must die that men may liveDear Lord, be kind to those who wait.


THE SONG OF THE SEA

    Oh, the song of the Sea—
    The wonderful song of the Sea!
  Like the far-off hum of a throbbing drum
    It steals through the night to me:
    And my fancy wanders free
    To a little seaport town,
  And a spot I knew, where the roses grew
    By a cottage small and brown;
    And a child strayed up and down
    O'er hillock and beach and lea,
  And crept at dark to his bed, to hark
    To the wonderful song of the Sea.

    Oh, the song of the Sea—
    The mystical song of the Sea!
  What strains of joy to a dreaming boy
    That music was wont to be!
    And the night-wind through the tree
    Was a perfumed breath that told
  Of the spicy gales that filled the sails
    Where the tropic billows rolled
    And the rovers hid their gold
    By the lone palm on the key,—
  But the whispering wave their secret gave
    In the mystical song of the Sea.

    Oh, the song of the Sea—
    The beautiful song of the Sea!
  The mighty note from the ocean's throat,
    The laugh of the wind in glee!
    And swift as the ripples flee
    With the surges down the shore,
  It bears me back, o'er life's long track,
    To home and its love once more.
    I stand at the open door,
    Dear mother, again with thee,
  And hear afar on the booming bar
    The beautiful song of the Sea.


THE WIND’S SONG

    Oh, the wild November wind,
      How it blew!
  How the dead leaves rasped and rustled,
  Soared and sank and buzzed and bustled
      As they flew;
  While above the empty square,
  Seeming skeletons in air,
  Battered branches, brown and bare,
      Gauntly grinned;
  And the frightened dust-clouds, flying.
  Heard the calling and the crying
      Of the wind,—
    The wild November wind.

    Oh, the wild November wind,
      How it screamed!
  How it moaned and mocked and muttered
  At the cottage window, shuttered,
      Whence there streamed
  Fitful flecks of firelight mild:
  And within, a mother smiled,
  Singing softly to her child
      As there dinned
  Round the gabled roof and rafter
  Long and loud the shout and laughter
      Of the wind,—
    The wild November wind.

    Oh, the wild November wind,
      How it rang
  Through the rigging of a vessel
  Rocking where the great waves wrestle!
      And it sang,
  Light and low, that mother's song;
  And the master, staunch and strong,
  Heard the sweet strain drift along—
      Softened, thinned,—
  Heard the tightened cordage ringing
  Till it seemed a loved voice singing
      In the wind,—
    The wild November wind.


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Categories: English Literature

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