Ballads of Lost Haven
A Book of the Sea
By BLISS CARMAN
Author of Low Tide on Grand Pre, Behind the Arras, Songs from Vagabondia, &c.
Lamson, Wolffe and Company Boston, New York and London
by Lamson, Wolffe and Company
All rights reserved
J. S. Cushing & Co.—Berwick & Smith
Norwood Mass. U.S.A.
PAGE A SON OF THE SEA 7 THE GRAVEDIGGER 8 THE YULE GUEST 12 THE MARRING OF MALYN 26 THE NANCY'S PRIDE 43 ARNOLD, MASTER OF THE SCUD 48 THE SHIPS OF ST. JOHN 55 THE KING OF YS 59 THE KELPIE RIDERS 68 NOONS OF POPPY 93 LEGENDS OF LOST HAVEN 95 THE SHADOW BOATSWAIN 98 THE MASTER OF THE ISLES 104 THE LAST WATCH 110 OUTBOUND 116
A SON OF THE SEA
I was born for deep-sea faring; I was bred to put to sea; Stories of my father's daring Filled me at my mother's knee.
I was sired among the surges; I was cubbed beside the foam; All my heart is in its verges, And the sea wind is my home.
All my boyhood, from far vernal Bourns of being, came to me Dream-like, plangent, and eternal Memories of the plunging sea.
Oh, the shambling sea is a sexton old, And well his work is done. With an equal grave for lord and knave, He buries them every one.
Then hoy and rip, with a rolling hip, He makes for the nearest shore; And God, who sent him a thousand ship, Will send him a thousand more; But some he'll save for a bleaching grave, And shoulder them in to shore,— Shoulder them in, shoulder them in, Shoulder them in to shore.
Oh, the ships of Greece and the ships of Tyre Went out, and where are they? In the port they made, they are delayed With the ships of yesterday.
He followed the ships of England far, As the ships of long ago; And the ships of France they led him a dance, But he laid them all arow.
Oh, a loafing, idle lubber to him Is the sexton of the town; For sure and swift, with a guiding lift, He shovels the dead men down.
But though he delves so fierce and grim, His honest graves are wide, As well they know who sleep below The dredge of the deepest tide.
Oh, he works with a rollicking stave at lip, And loud is the chorus skirled; With the burly rote of his rumbling throat He batters it down the world.
He learned it once in his father's house, Where the ballads of eld were sung; And merry enough is the burden rough, But no man knows the tongue.
Oh, fair, they say, was his bride to see, And wilful she must have been, That she could bide at his gruesome side When the first red dawn came in.
And sweet, they say, is her kiss to those She greets to his border home; And softer than sleep her hand's first sweep That beckons, and they come.
Oh, crooked is he, but strong enough To handle the tallest mast; From the royal barque to the slaver dark, He buries them all at last.
Then hoy and rip, with a rolling hip, He makes for the nearest shore; And God, who sent him a thousand ship, Will send him a thousand more; But some he'll save for a bleaching grave, And shoulder them in to shore,— Shoulder them in, shoulder them in, Shoulder them in to shore.
THE YULE GUEST
And Yanna by the yule log Sat in the empty hall, And watched the goblin firelight Caper upon the wall:
The goblins of the hearthstone, Who teach the wind to sing, Who dance the frozen yule away And usher back the spring;
The goblins of the Northland, Who teach the gulls to scream, Who dance the autumn into dust, The ages into dream.
Like the tall corn was Yanna, Bending and smooth and fair,— His Yanna of the sea-gray eyes And harvest-yellow hair.
Child of the low-voiced people Who dwell among the hills, She had the lonely calm and poise Of life that waits and wills.
Only to-night a little With grave regard she smiled, Remembering the morn she woke And ceased to be a child.
Outside, the ghostly rampikes, Those armies of the moon, Stood while the ranks of stars drew on To that more spacious noon,—
While over them in silence Waved on the dusk afar The gold flags of the Northern light Streaming with ancient war.
And when below the headland The riders of the foam Up from the misty border rode The wild gray horses home,
And woke the wintry mountains With thunder on the shore, Out of the night there came a weird And cried at Yanna's door.
"O Yanna, Adrianna, They buried me away In the blue fathoms of the deep, Beyond the outer bay.
"But in the yule, O Yanna, Up from the round dim sea And reeling dungeons of the fog, I am come back to thee!"
The wind slept in the forest, The moon was white and high, Only the shifting snow awoke To hear the yule guest cry.
"O Yanna, Yanna, Yanna, Be quick and let me in! For bitter is the trackless way And far that I have been!"
Then Yanna by the yule log Starts from her dream to hear A voice that bids her brooding heart Shudder with joy and fear.
The wind is up a moment And whistles at the eaves, And in his troubled iron dream The ocean moans and heaves.
She trembles at the door-lock That he is come again, And frees the wooden bolt for one No barrier could detain.
"O Garvin, bonny Garvin, So late, so late you come!" The yule log crumbles down and throws Strange figures on the gloom;
But in the moonlight pouring Through the half-open door Stands the gray guest of yule and casts No shadow on the floor.
The change that is upon him She knows not in her haste; About him her strong arms with glad Impetuous tears are laced.
She's led him to the fireside, And set the wide oak chair, And with her warm hands brushed away The sea-rime from his hair.
"O Garvin, I have waited,— Have watched the red sun sink, And clouds of sail come flocking in Over the world's gray brink,
"With stories of encounter On plank and mast and spar; But never the brave barque I launched And waved across the bar.
"How come you so unsignalled, When I have watched so well? Where rides the Adrianna With my name on boat and bell?"
"O Yanna, golden Yanna, The Adrianna lies With the sea dredging through her ports, The white sand through her eyes.
"And strange unearthly creatures Make marvel of her hull, Where far below the gulfs of storm There is eternal lull.
"O Yanna, Adrianna, This midnight I am here, Because one night of all my life At yule tide of the year,
"With the stars white in heaven, And peace upon the sea, With all my world in your white arms You gave yourself to me.
"For that one night, my Yanna, Within the dying year, Was it not well to love, and now Can it be well to fear?"
"O Garvin, there is heartache In tales that are half told; But ah, thy cheek is pale to-night, And thy poor hands are cold!
"Tell me the course, the voyage, The ports, and the new stars; Did the long rollers make green surf On the white reefs and bars?"
"O Yanna, Adrianna, Though easily I found The set of those uncharted tides In seas no line could sound,
"And made without a pilot The port without a light, No log keeps tally of the knots That I have sailed to-night.
"It fell about mid-April; The Trades were holding free; We drove her till the scuppers hissed And buried in the lee.
* * * * *
"O Yanna, Adrianna, Loose hands and let me go! The night grows red along the East, And in the shifting snow
"I hear my shipmates calling, Sent out to search for me In the pale lands beneath the moon Along the troubling sea."
"O Garvin, bonny Garvin, What is the booming sound Of canvas, and the piping shrill, As when a ship comes round?"
"It is the shadow boatswain Piping his hands to bend The looming sails on giant yards Aboard the Nomansfriend.
"She sails for Sunken Harbor And ports of yester year; The tern are shrilling in the lift, The low wind-gates are clear.
"O Yanna, Adrianna, The little while is done. Thou wilt behold the brightening sea Freshen before the sun,
"And many a morning redden The dark hill slopes of pine; But I must sail hull-down to-night Below the gray sea-line.
"I shall not hear the snowbirds Their morning litany, For when the dawn comes over dale I must put out to sea."
"O Garvin, bonny Garvin, To have thee as I will, I would that never more on earth The dawn came over hill."
* * * * *
Then on the snowy pillow, Her hair about her face, He laid her in the quiet room, And wiped away all trace
Of tears from the poor eyelids That were so sad for him, And soothed her into sleep at last As the great stars grew dim.
Tender as April twilight He sang, and the song grew Vague as the dreams which roam about This world of dust and dew:
"O Yanna, Adrianna, Dear Love, look forth to sea And all year long until the yule, Dear Heart, keep watch for me!
"O Yanna, Adrianna, I hear the calling sea, And the folk telling tales among The hills where I would be.
"O Yanna, Adrianna, Over the hills of sea The wind calls and the morning comes, And I must forth from thee.
"But Yanna, Adrianna, Keep watch above the sea; And when the weary time is o'er, Dear Life, come back to me!"
"O Garvin, bonny Garvin—" She murmurs in her dream, And smiles a moment in her sleep To hear the white gulls scream.
Then with the storm foreboding Far in the dim gray South, He kissed her not upon the cheek Nor on the burning mouth,
But once above the forehead Before he turned away; And ere the morning light stole in, That golden lock was gray.
"O Yanna, Adrianna—" The wind moans to the sea; And down the sluices of the dawn A shadow drifts alee.
THE MARRING OF MALYN
Among the wintry mountains beside the Northern sea There is a merrymaking, as old as old can be.
Over the river reaches, over the wastes of snow, Halting at every doorway, the white drifts come and go.
They scour upon the open, and mass along the wood, The burliest invaders that ever man withstood.
With swoop and whirl and scurry, these riders of the drift Will mount and wheel and column, and pass into the lift.
All night upon the marshes you hear their tread go by, And all night long the streamers are dancing on the sky.
Their light in Malyn's chamber is pale upon the floor, And Malyn of the mountains is theirs for evermore.
She fancies them a people in saffron and in green, Dancing for her. For Malyn is only seventeen.
Out there beyond her window, from frosty deep to deep, Her heart is dancing with them until she falls asleep.
Then all night long through heaven, with stately to and fro, To music of no measure, the gorgeous dancers go.
The stars are great and splendid, beryl and gold and blue, And there are dreams for Malyn that never will come true.
Yet for one golden Yule-tide their royal guest is she, Among the wintry mountains beside the Northern sea.
A SAILOR'S WEDDING
There is a Norland laddie who sails the round sea-rim, And Malyn of the mountains is all the world to him. The Master of the Snowflake, bound upward from the line, He smothers her with canvas along the crumbling brine. He crowds her till she buries and shudders from his hand, For in the angry sunset the watch has sighted land; And he will brook no gainsay who goes to meet his bride. But their will is the wind's will who traffic on the tide. Make home, my bonny schooner! The sun goes down to light The gusty crimson wind-halls against the wedding night.
She gathers up the distance, and grows and veers and swings, Like any homing swallow with nightfall in her wings. The wind's white sources glimmer with shining gusts of rain; And in the Ardise country the spring comes back again. It is the brooding April, haunted and sad and dear, When vanished things return not with the returning year. Only, when evening purples the light in Malyn's dale, With sound of brooks and robins, by many a hidden trail, With stir of lulling rivers along the forest floor, The dream-folk of the gloaming come back to Malyn's door. The dusk is long and gracious, and far up in the sky You hear the chimney-swallows twitter and scurry by. The hyacinths are lonesome and white in Malyn's room; And out at sea the Snowflake is driving through the gloom. The whitecaps froth and freshen; in squadrons of white surge They thunder on to ruin, and smoke along the verge. The lift is black above them, the sea is mirk below, And down the world's wide border they perish as they go. They comb and seethe and founder, they mount and glimmer and flee, Amid the awful sobbing and quailing of the sea. They sheet the flying schooner in foam from stem to stern, Till every yard of canvas is drenched from clew to ear'n'. And where they move uneasy, chill is the light and pale; They are the Skipper's daughters, who dance before the gale. They revel with the Snowflake, and down the close of day Among the boisterous dancers she holds her dancing way; And then the dark has kindled the harbor light alee, With stars and wind and sea-room upon the gurly sea. The storm gets up to windward to heave and clang and brawl; The dancers of the open begin to moan and call. A lure is in their dancing, a weird is in their song; The snow-white Skipper's daughters are stronger than the strong. They love the Norland sailor who dares the rough sea play; Their arms are white and splendid to beckon him away. They promise him, for kisses a moment at their lips, To make before the morning the port of missing ships, Where men put in for shelter, and dreams put forth again, And the great sea-winds follow the journey of the rain. A bridal with no morrow, no welling of old tears, For him, and no more tidings of the departed years! For there of old were fashioned the chambers cool and dim, In the eternal silence below the twilight's rim. The borders of that country are slumberous and wide; And they are well who marry the fondlers of the tide. Within their arms immortal, no mortal fear can be; But Malyn of the mountains is fairer than the sea. And so the scudding Snowflake flies with the wind astern, And through the boding twilight are blown the shrilling tern. The light is on the headland, the harbor gate is wide; But rolling in with ruin the fog is on the tide. Fate like a muffled steersman sails with that Norland gloom; The Snowflake in the offing is neck and neck with doom. Ha, ha, my saucy cruiser, crowd up your helm and run! There'll be a merrymaking to-morrow in the sun. A cloud of straining canvas, a roar of breaking foam, The Snowflake and the sea-drift are racing in for home. Her heart is dancing shoreward, but silently and pale The swift relentless phantom is hungering on her trail. They scour and fly together, until across the roar He signals for a pilot—and Death puts out from shore. A moment Malyn's window is gleaming in the lee, And then—the ghost of wreckage upon the iron sea.
Ah, Malyn, lay your forehead upon your folded arm, And hear the grim marauder shake out the reefs of storm! Loud laughs the surly Skipper to feel the fog drive in, Because a blue-eyed sailor shall wed his kith and kin, And the red dawn discover a rover spent for breath Among the merrymakers who fondle him to death. And all the snowy sisters are dancing wild and grand, For him whose broken beauty shall slacken to their hand. They wanton in their triumph, and skirl at Malyn's plight; Lift up their hands in chorus, and thunder to the night. The gulls are driven inland; but on the dancing tide The master of the Snowflake is taken to his bride.
And there when daybreak yellows along the far sea-plain, The fresh and buoyant morning comes down the wind again. The world is glad of April, the gulls are wild with glee, And Malyn on the headland alone looks out to sea. Once more that gray Shipmaster smiles, for the night is done, And all his snow-white daughters are dancing in the sun.
THE LIGHT ON THE MARSH
The year grows on to harvest, the tawny lilies burn Along the marsh, and hillward the roads are sweet with fern. All day the windless heaven pavilions the sea-blue, Then twilight comes and drenches the sultry dells with dew. The lone white star of evening comes out among the hills, And in the darkling forest begin the whip-poor-wills. The fireflies that wander, the hawks that flit and scream, And all the wilding vagrants of summer dusk and dream, Have all their will, and reck not of any after thing, Inheriting no sorrow and no foreshadowing. The wind forgets to whisper, the pines forget to moan, And Malyn of the mountains is there among her own. Malyn, whom grief nor wonder can trouble nevermore, Since that spring night the Snowflake was wrecked beside her door, And strange her cry went seaward once, and her soul thereon With the vast lonely sea-winds, a wanderer, was gone. But she, that patient beauty which is her body fair, Endures on earth still lovely, untenanted of care. The folk down at the harbor pity from day to day; With a "God save you, Malyn!" they bid her on her way. She smiles, poor feckless Malyn, the knowing smile of those Whom the too sudden vision God sometimes may disclose Of his wild, lurid world-wreck, has blinded with its sheen. Then, with a fond insistence, pathetic and serene, They pass among their fellows for lost minds none can save, Bent on their single business, and marvel why men rave. Now far away a sighing comes from the buried reef, As though the sea were mourning above an ancient grief. For once the restless Mother of all the weary lands Went down to him in beauty, with trouble in her hands, And gave to him forever all memory to keep, But to her wayward children oblivion and sleep, That no immortal burden might plague one living thing, But death should sweetly visit us vagabonds of spring. And so his heart forever goes inland with the tide, Searching with many voices among the marshes wide. Under the quiet starlight, up through the stirring reeds, With whispering and lamenting it rises and recedes. All night the lapsing rivers croon to their shingly bars The wizardries that mingle the sea-wind and the stars. And all night long wherever the moving waters gleam, The little hills hearken, hearken, the great hills hear and dream. And Malyn keeps the marshes all the sweet summer night, Alone, foot-free, to follow a wandering wisp-light. For every day at sundown, at the first beacon's gleam, She calls the gulls her brothers and keeps a tryst with them. "O gulls, white gulls, what see you beyond the sloping blue? And where away's the Snowflake, she's so long overdue?" Then, as the gloaming settles, the hilltop stars emerge And watch that plaintive figure patrol the dark sea verge. She follows the marsh fire; her heart laughs and is glad; She knows that light to seaward is her own sailor lad! What are these tales they tell her of wreckage on the shore? Delay but makes his coming the nearer than before! Surely her eyes have sighted his schooner in the lift! But the great tide he homes on sets with an outward drift. So will-o'-the-wisp deludes her till dawn, and she turns home In unperturbed assurance, "To-morrow he will come." This is the tale of Malyn, whom sudden grief so marred. And still each lovely summer resumes that sweet regard,— The old unvexed eternal indifference to pain; The sea sings in the marshes, and June comes back again. All night the lapsing rivers lisp in the long dike grass, And many memories whisper the sea-winds as they pass; The tides disturb the silence; but not a hindrance bars The wash of time, where founder even the galleon stars. And all night long wherever the moving waters gleam, The little hills hearken, hearken, the great hills hear and dream.
THE NANCY'S PRIDE
On the long slow heave of a lazy sea, To the flap of an idle sail, The Nancy's Pride went out on the tide; And the skipper stood by the rail.
All down, all down by the sleepy town, With the hollyhocks a-row In the little poppy gardens, The sea had her in tow.
They let her slip by the breathing rip, Where the bell is never still, And over the sounding harbor bar, And under the harbor hill.
She melted into the dreaming noon, Out of the drowsy land, In sight of a flag of goldy hair, To the kiss of a girlish hand.
For the lass who hailed the lad who sailed, Was—who but his April bride? And of all the fleet of Grand Latite, Her pride was the Nancy's Pride.
So the little vessel faded down With her creaking boom a-swing, Till a wind from the deep came up with a creep, And caught her wing and wing.
She made for the lost horizon line, Where the clouds a-castled lay, While the boil and seethe of the open sea Hung on her frothing way.
She lifted her hull like a breasting gull Where the rolling valleys be, And dipped where the shining porpoises Put ploughshares through the sea.
A fading sail on the far sea-line, About the turn of the tide, As she made for the Banks on her maiden cruise, Was the last of the Nancy's Pride.
To-day a boy with goldy hair, In a garden of Grand Latite, From his mother's knee looks out to sea For the coming of the fleet.
They all may home on a sleepy tide, To the flap of the idle sail; But it's never again the Nancy's Pride That answers a human hail.
They all may home on a sleepy tide To the sag of an idle sheet; But it's never again the Nancy's Pride That draws men down the street.
On the Banks to-night a fearsome sight The fishermen behold, Keeping the ghost watch in the moon When the small hours are cold.
When the light wind veers, and the white fog clears, They see by the after rail An unknown schooner creeping up With mildewed spar and sail.
Her crew lean forth by the rotting shrouds, With the Judgment in their face; And to their mates' "God save you!" Have never a word of grace.
Then into the gray they sheer away, On the awful polar tide; And the sailors know they have seen the wraith Of the missing Nancy's Pride.
ARNOLD, MASTER OF THE SCUD
There's a schooner out from Kingsport, Through the morning's dazzle-gleam, Snoring down the Bay of Fundy With a norther on her beam.
How the tough wind springs to wrestle, When the tide is on the flood! And between them stands young daring— Arnold, master of the Scud.
He is only "Martin's youngster," To the Minas coasting fleet, "Twelve year old, and full of Satan As a nut is full of meat."
With a wake of froth behind him, And the gold green waste before, Just as though the sea this morning Were his boat pond by the door,
Legs a-straddle, grips the tiller This young waif of the old sea; When the wind comes harder, only Laughs "Hurrah!" and holds her free.
Little wonder, as you watch him With the dash in his blue eye, Long ago his father called him "Arnold, Master," on the sly,
While his mother's heart foreboded Reckless father makes rash son. So to-day the schooner carries Just these two whose will is one.
Now the wind grows moody, shifting Point by point into the east. Wing and wing the Scud is flying With her scuppers full of yeast.
And the father's older wisdom On the sea-line has descried, Like a stealthy cloud-bank making Up to windward with the tide,
Those tall navies of disaster, The pale squadrons of the fog, That maraud this gray world border Without pilot, chart, or log,
Ranging wanton as marooners From Minudie to Manan. "Heave to, and we'll reef, my master!" Cries he; when no will of man
Spills the foresail, but a clumsy Wind-flaw with a hand like stone Hurls the boom round. In an instant Arnold, Master, there alone
Sees a crushed corpse shot to seaward, With the gray doom in its face; And the climbing foam receives it To its everlasting place.
What does Arnold, Master, think you? Whimper like a child for dread? That's not Arnold. Foulest weather Strongest sailors ever bred.
And this slip of taut sea-faring Grows a man who throttles fear. Let the storm and dark in spite now Do their worst with valor here!
Not a reef and not a shiver, While the wind jeers in her shrouds, And the flauts of foam and sea-fog Swarm upon her deck in crowds,
Flies the Scud like a mad racer; And with iron in his frown, Holding hard by wrath and dreadnought, Arnold, Master, rides her down.
Let the taffrail shriek through foam-heads! Let the licking seas go glut Elsewhere their old hunger, baffled! Arnold's making for the Gut.
Cleft sheer down, the sea-wall mountains Give that one port on the coast; Made, the Basin lies in sunshine! Missed, the little Scud is lost!
Come now, fog-horn, let your warning Rip the wind to starboard there! Suddenly that burly-throated Welcome ploughs the cumbered air.
The young master hauls a little, Crowds her up and sheets her home, Heading for the narrow entry Whence the safety signals come.
Then the wind lulls, and an eddy Tells of ledges, where away; Veers the Scud, sheet free, sun breaking, Through the rifts, and—there's the bay!
Like a bird in from the storm-beat, As the summer sun goes down, Slows the schooner to her moorings By the wharf at Digby town.
All the world next morning wondered. Largest letters, there it stood, "Storm in Fundy. A Boy's Daring. Arnold, Master of the Scud."
THE SHIPS OF ST. JOHN
Smile, you inland hills and rivers! Flush, you mountains in the dawn! But my roving heart is seaward With the ships of gray St. John.
Fair the land lies, full of August, Meadow island, shingly bar, Open barns and breezy twilight, Peace and the mild evening star.
Gently now this gentlest country The old habitude takes on, But my wintry heart is outbound With the great ships of St. John.
Once in your wide arms you held me, Till the man-child was a man, Canada, great nurse and mother Of the young sea-roving clan.
Always your bright face above me Through the dreams of boyhood shone; Now far alien countries call me With the ships of gray St. John.
Swing, you tides, up out of Fundy! Blow, you white fogs, in from sea! I was born to be your fellow; You were bred to pilot me.
At the touch of your strong fingers, Doubt, the derelict, is gone; Sane and glad I clear the headland With the white ships of St. John.
Loyalists, my fathers, builded This gray port of the gray sea, When the duty to ideals Could not let well-being be.
When the breadth of scarlet bunting Puts the wreath of maple on, I must cheer too,—slip my moorings With the ships of gray St. John.
Peerless-hearted port of heroes, Be a word to lift the world, Till the many see the signal Of the few once more unfurled.
Past the lighthouse, past the nunbuoy, Past the crimson rising sun, There are dreams go down the harbor With the tall ships of St. John.
In the morning I am with them As they clear the island bar,— Fade, till speck by speck the midday Has forgotten where they are.
But I sight a vaster sea-line, Wider lee-way, longer run, Whose discoverers return not With the ships of gray St. John.
THE KING OF YS
Wild across the Breton country, Fabled centuries ago, Riding from the black sea border, Came the squadrons of the snow.
Piping dread at every latch-hole, Moaning death at every sill, The white Yule came down in vengeance Upon Ys, and had its will.
Walled and dreamy stood the city, Wide and dazzling shone the sea, When the gods set hand to smother Ys, the pride of Brittany.
Morning drenched her towers in purple; Light of heart were king and fool; Fair forebode the merrymaking Of the seven days of Yule.
Laughed the king, "Once more, my mistress, Time and place and joy are one!" Bade the balconies with banners Match the splendor of the sun;
Eyes of urchins shine with silver, And with gold the pavement ring; Bade the war-horns sound their bravest In The Mistress of the King.
Mountebanks and ballad-mongers And all strolling traffickers Should block up the market corners With none other name than hers.
Laughed the fool, "To-day, my Folly, Thou shalt be the king of Ys!" O wise fool! How long must wisdom Under motley hold her peace?
Then the storm came down. The valleys Wailed and ciphered to the dune Like huge organ pipes; a midnight Stalked those gala streets at noon;
And the sea rose, rocked and tilted Like a beaker in the hand, Till the moon-hung tide broke tether And stampeded in for land.
All day long with doom portentous, Shreds of pennons shrieked and flew Over Ys; and black fear shuddered On the hearthstone all night through.
Fear, which freezes up the marrow Of the heart, from door to door Like a plague went through the city, And filled up the devil's score;
Filled her tally of the craven, To the sea-wind's dismal note; While a panic superstition Took the people by the throat.
As with morning still the sea rose With vast wreckage on the tide, And their pasture rills, grown rivers, Thundered in the mountain side,
"Vengeance, vengeance, gods to vengeance!" Rose a storm of muttering; And the human flood came pouring To the palace of the king.
"Save, O king, before we perish In the whirlpools of the sea, Ys thy city, us thy people!" Growled the king then, "What would ye?"
But his wolf's eyes talked defiance, And his bearded mouth meant scorn. "O our king, the gods are angry; And no longer to be borne
"Is the shameless face that greets us From thy windows, at thy side, Smiling infamy. And therefore Thou shall take her up, and ride
"Down with her into the sea's mouth, And there leave her; else we die, And thy name goes down to story A new word for cruelty."
Ah, but she was fair, this woman! Warm and flaxen waved her hair; Her blue Breton eyes made summer In that bleak December air.
There she stood whose burning beauty Made the world's high roof tree ring, A white poppy tall and wind-blown In the garden of the king.
Her throat shook, but not with terror; Her eyes swam, but not with fear; While her two hands caught and clung to The one man they had found dear.
"Lord and lover,"—thus she smiled him Her last word,—"it shall be so, Only the sea's arms shall hold me, When from out thine arms I go."
Swore he, "By the gods, my mistress, Thou shall have queen's burial. Pearls and amber shall thy tomb be; Shot with gold and green thy pall.
"And a million-throated chorus Shall take up thy dirge to-night; Where thy slumber's starry watch-fires Shall a thousand years be bright."
Then they brought the coal-black stallion, Chafing on the bit. Astride Sprang the young king; shouted, "Way there!" Caught the girl up to his side;
And a path through that scared rabble Rode in pageant to the sea. And the coal-black mane was mingled With gold hair against his knee.
Sure as the wild gulls make seaward, From the west gate to the beach Rode these two for whom now freedom Landward lay beyond their reach.
And the great horse, scenting peril, Snorted at the flying spume, Flicked with courage, as how often, When the tides were racing doom,
Ridden, he had plunged to rescue From that seething icy hell Some poor sailor wrecked a-fishing On the coast. What fears should quell
That high spirit? Knee to shoulder, King and stallion reared and sprang Clear above the long white combers And that turmoil's iron clang.
What a launching! For a moment, While the tempest held its breath And a thousand eyes looked wonder, Swimming in that trough of death,
Steering seaward through the welter, Ere they settled out of sight, Waved above them one gold streamer. Valor, bid the world good-night!...
Not a trace, while the long summers Warm the heart of Brittany, Save one stone of Ys, as remnant, For a white mark in the sea.
THE KELPIE RIDERS
Buried alive in calm Rochelle, Six in a row by a crystal well,
All Summer long on Bareau Fen Slumber and sleep the Kelpie men;
By the side of each to cheer his ghost, A flagon of foam with a crumpet of frost.
Hear me, friends, for the years are fleet; Soon I leave the noise and the street
For the silent uncompanioned way Where the inn is cold and the night is gray.
But noon is warm and the world is still Where the Kelpie riders have their will.
For never a wind dare stir or stray Over those marshes salt and gray;
No bit of shade as big as your hand To traverse or trammel the sleeping land,
Save where a dozen poplars fleck The long gray grass and the well's blue beck.
Yet you mark their leaves are blanched and sear, Whispering daft at a nameless fear.
While round the hole of one is a rune, Black in the wash of the bleaching noon.
"Ride, for the wind is awake and away. Sleep, for the harvest grain is gray."
No word more. And many a mile, A ghostly bivouac rank and file,
They sleep to-day on the marshes wide; Some far night they will wake and ride.
Once they were riders hot with speed, "Kelpie, Kelpie, gallop at need!"
With hills of the barren sea to roam, Housing their horses on the foam.
But earth is cool and the hush is long Beneath the lull of the slumber song
The crickets falter and strive to tell To the dragon-fly of the crystal well;
And love is a forgotten jest, Where the Kelpie riders take their rest,
And blossoming grasses hour by hour Burn in the bud and freeze in the flower.
But never again shall their roving be On the shifting hills of the tumbling sea,
With the salt, and the rain, and the glad desire Strong as the wind and pure as fire.
One doomful night in the April tide With riot of brooks on the mountain side,
The goblin maidens of the hills Went forth to the revel-call of the rills.
Many as leaves of the falling year, To the swing of a ballad wild and clear
They held the plain and the uplands high; And the merry-dancers held the sky.
The Kelpie riders abroad on the sea Caught sound of that call of eerie glee,
Over their prairie waste and wan; And the goblin maidens tolled them on.
The yellow eyes and the raven hair And the tawny arms blown fresh and bare,
Were more than a mortal might behold And live with the saints for a crown of gold.
The Kelpie riders were stricken sore; They wavered, and wheeled, and rode for the shore.
"Kelpie, Kelpie, treble your stride! Never again on the sea we ride.
"Kelpie, Kelpie, out of the storm; On, for the fields of earth are warm!"
Knee to knee they are riding in: "Brother, brother,—the goblin kin!"
The meadows rocked as they clomb the scaur; The pines re-echo for evermore
The sound of the host of Kelpie men; But the windflowers died on Bareau Fen.
Over the marshes all night long The stars went round to a riding song:
"Kelpie, Kelpie, carry us through!" And the goblin maidens danced thereto.
Till dawn,—and the revel died with a shout, For the ocean riders were wearied out.
They looked, and the grass was warm and soft; The dreamy clouds went over aloft;
A gloom of pines on the weather verge Had the lulling sound of their own white surge;
A whip-poor-will, far from their din, Was saying his litanies therein.
Then voices neither loud nor deep: "Tired, so tired; sleep! ah, sleep!
"The stars are calm, and the earth is warm, But the sea for an earldom is given to storm.
"Come now, inherit the houses of doom; Your fields of the sun shall be harried of gloom."
They laid them down; but over long They rest,—for the goblin maids are strong.
The sun goes round; and Bareau Fen Is a door of earth on the Kelpie men,—
Buried at dawn, asleep, unslain, With not a mound on the sunny plain,
Hard by the walls of calm Rochelle, Row on row by the crystal well.
And never again they are free to ride Through all the years on the tossing tide,
Barred from the breast of the barren foam, Where the heart within them is yearning home,—
For one long drench of the surf to quell The cursing doom of the goblin spell.
Only, when bugling snows alight To smother the marshes stark and white,
Or a low red moon peers over the rim Of a winter twilight crisp and dim,
With a sound of drift on the buried lands, The goblin maidens loose their hands;
A wind comes down from the sheer blue North; And the Kelpie riders get them forth.
Twice have I been on Bareau Fen, But the son of my son is a man since then.
Once as a lad I used to bear St. Louis' cross through the chapel square,
Leading the choristers' surpliced file Slow up the dusk Cathedral aisle.
I was the boy of all Rochelle The pure old father trusted well.
But one clear night in the winter's heart, I wandered out to that place apart.
The shafts of smoke went up to the stars, Straight as the Northern Streamer spars,
From the town's white roofs, so still it was. The night in her dream let no word pass,
Nor ever a breath that one could feel; Only the snow shrieked under my heel.
Yet it seemed when I reached the poplar hole, The ghost of a voice was crying, "Skoal!
"Rouse thee and drink, for the well is sweet, And the crystal snow is good to eat!"
I heeded little, but stooped on my knee, And ate of a handful dreamily.
'Twas cool to the mouth and slaking at first, But the lure of it was ill for thirst.
The voice cried, "Soul of the mortal span, Art thou not of the Kelpie clan?"
"What are you doing there in the ground, Kelpie rider, and never a sound
"To roam the night but the ghost of a cry?" Ringing and swift there came reply,
"He is asleep where thou art afraid, In the tawny arms of a goblin maid!"
Then I knew the voice was the voice of a girl, And I marvelled much (while a little swirl
Of snow leaped up far off on the plain Of sparkling dust and died again),
For what do the cloisters know, think ye, Of women's ways? They be hard to see.
Again the voice cried, "Kin of my kin, The child of the Sun shall win, shall win!"
'Twas an evil weird that so befell; Yet I leaned and drank of the bubbling well.
I looked for my face in the crystal spring, But the face that flickered there was a thing
To make the nape of your neck grow chill, And every vein surge back and thrill
With a passion for something not their own— In a life their life has never known.
For raven hair and eyes like the sun Are merry but dour to look upon.
She smiled through her lashes under the wave, And my soul went forth her bartered slave.
I swore, "By St. Louis, I'll come to thee, Though I ride to my doom in the gulfs of the sea!
"Thy Kelpie rider shall wake and rue His ruined life in the loss of you."
Then I fled in the start of a terror of joy, O'er leagues where a legion might deploy;
For the acres of snow were level and hard, Every flake like a crystal shard.
I was the runner of all Rochelle, Could run with the hounds on Haric Fell;
And something stark as a gust of the sea Had a grip of the whimsy boy in me.
I ran like the drift on the ice low curled When the winds of Yule are abroad on the world.
Sudden, the beat of a throbbing sound Lost in the core of the blue profound:
"Kelpie, Kelpie, Kelpie, come!" Was it my heart?—But my heart was numb.
"Kelpie, Kelpie!" Was it the sea? Far on, at the verge of Bareau lea,
I saw like an army, shield and casque, The breakers roll in the Roads of Basque.
"Kelpie, Kelpie!" Was it the wolves? In the dusk of pines where night dissolves
To streamers and stars through the mountain gorge, I heard the blast of a giant forge.
Then I knew the wind was awake from the North, And the ocean riders were freed and forth.
Time, there is time (now gallop, my heart!) Ere the black riders disperse and depart.
The dawn is late, but the dawn comes round, And Fleetfoot Jean has the wind of a hound.
The hue and cry of the Kelpie horde Was growing and grim on that white seaboard.
It rolled and gathered and died and grew Far off to the rear; a smile thereto
I turned; a fathom behind my ear A rider rode with a shadowy leer.
I sickened and sped. He laughed aloud, "Wind for a mourner, snow for a shroud!"
On and on, half blown, half blind, Shadow and self, and the wind behind!
I slackened, he slackened; I fled, he flew; In a swirl of snow-drift all night through
I scoured along the gusty fen, A quarry for hunting Kelpie men.
But only one could hold at my side: "Brother, brother, I love thy stride.
"Wilt thou follow thy whim to win My merry maid of the goblin kin?"
I swerved from my trail, for he haunted my ear With his moaning jibe and his shadowy leer.
So by good hap as we sped it fell, I fetched a circuit back for the well.
Like a spilth of spume on the crest of the bore When the combing tides make in for shore,
That runner ran whose love was a wraith; But the rider rode with revenge in his teeth.
Another league, and I touch the goal,— The mystic rune on the poplar bole,—
When the dusky eyes and the raven hair And the lithe brown arms shall greet me there.
I ran like a harrier on the trace In the leash of that ghoul, and the wind gave chase.
A furlong now; I caught the gleam Of the bubbling well with its tiny stream;
An arrowy burst; I cleared the beck; And—the Kelpie rider bestrode my neck.
* * * * *
Dawn, the still red winter dawn; I awoke on the plain; the wind was gone;—
All gracious and good as when God made The living creatures, and none was afraid.
I stooped to drink of the wholesome spring Under the poplars whispering:
Face to my face in that water clear— The Kelpie rider's jabbering leer!
Ah, God! not me: I was never so! Sainted Louis, who can know
The lords of life from the slaves of death? What help avail the speeding breath
Of the spirit that knows not self's abode,— When the soul is lost that knows not God?
I turned me home by St. Louis' Hall, Where the red sun burns on the windows tall.
And I thought the world was strange and wild, And God with his altar only a child.
Again one year in the prime of June, I came to the well in the heated noon,
Leaving Rochelle with its red roof tiles By the Pottery Gate before St. Giles,—
There where the flower market is, Where every morning up from Duprisse
The flower girls come by the long white lane That skirts the edge of Bareau plain;—
To the North, the city wall in the sun, To the left, the fen where the eye may run
And have its will of the blazing blue. The while I loitered the market through,
Halting a moment to converse With old Babette who had been my nurse,
There passed through the stalls a woman, bright With a kirtle of cinnabar and white
Among the kerseys blue; and I said, "Who is it, Babette, with lifted head,
"And the startled look, possessed and strange, Under the paint—secure from change?"
"Ah, 'Sieur Jean, do ye not ken Of the eerie folk of Bareau Fen?"
I blenched, and she knew too well I wist The fearsome fate of the goblin tryst.
"The street is a cruel home, 'Sieur Jean, But a weird uncanny drives her on.
"'Tis a bitter tale for Christian folk, How once she dreamed, and how she woke."
"Ay, ay!" I passed and reached the spring Where the poplars kept their whispering,
Hid for an hour in the shade, In the rank marsh grass of a tiny glade.
There crossed the moor from the town afar, In kirtle of white and cinnabar,
A wanderer on that plain of tears, Bowed with a burden not of the years,
As one that goeth sorrowing For many an unforgotten thing.
To the crystal well as the sun drew low There came that harridan of woe.
She stooped to drink; I heard her cry: "Ah, God, how tired out am I!
"I called him by the dearest name A girl may call; I have my shame.
"'Yet death is crueller than life,' Once they said, 'for all the strife.'
"And so I lived; but the wild will, Broken and bitter, drives to ill.
"And now I know, what no one saith, That love is crueller than death.
"How I did love him! Is love too high, My God, for such lost folk as I?"
Her tears went down to the grass by the well, In that passion of grief, and where they fell
Windflowers trembled pale and white. A craven I crept away from the sight;
And turned me home to St. Louis' Hall, Where the sunflowers burn by the eastern wall.
The vesper frankincense that day Rose to the rafters and melted away,
And was no more than a cloud that stirs Among the spires of Norway firs.
And I said, "The holy solitude Of the hoary crypt and the wild green wood
"Are one to the God I have never known, Whose kingdom has neither bourn nor throne."
Now I am old, and the years delay; But I know, I know, there will come a day,—
When April is over the Norland town. And the loosened brooks from the hills go down,
When tears have quenched the sorrow of time,— Wherein the earth shall rebuild her prime,
And the houses of dark be overthrown; When the goblin maids shall love their own,—
Their arms forever unlaced from their hold Of the earls of the sea on that alien wold,—
And the feckless light of their golden eyes Shall forget the desire that made them wise;
When the hands of the foam shall beckon and flee. And the Kelpie riders ride for the sea;
And the whip-poor-will the whole night long Repeat his litanies of song,
Till morning whiten the world again, And the flowers revive on Bareau Fen,
Over the acres of calm Rochelle Fresh by the stream of the crystal well.
NOONS OF POPPY
Noons of poppy, noons of poppy, Scarlet leagues along the sea; Flaxen hair afloat in sunlight, Love, come down the world to me!
There's a Captain I must ship with, (Heart, that day be far from now!) Wears his dark command in silence With the sea-frost on his brow.
Noons of poppy, noons of poppy, Purple shadows by the sea; How should love take thought to wonder What the destined port may be?
Nay, if love have joy for shipmate For a night-watch or a year, Dawn will light o'er Lonely Haven, Heart to happy heart, as here.
Noons of poppy, noons of poppy, Scarlet acres by the sea Burning to the blue above them; Love, the world is full for me.
LEGENDS OF LOST HAVEN
There are legends of Lost Haven, Come, I know not whence, to me, When the wind is in the clover, When the sun is on the sea.
There are rumors in the pine-tops, There are whispers in the grass; And the flocking crows at nightfall Bring home hints of things that pass
Out upon the broad dike yonder, All day long beneath the sun, Where the tall ships cloud and settle Down the sea-curve, one by one.
And the crickets in fine chorus— Every slim and tiny reed— Strive to chord the broken rhythmus Of the world, and half succeed.
There are myriad traditions Treasured by the talking rain; And with memories the moonlight Walks the cold and silent plain.
Where the river tells his hill-tales To the lone complaining bar, Where the midgets thread their dances To the yellow twilight star,
Where the blossom bends to hearken To the bee with velvet bands, There are chronicles enciphered Of the yet uncharted lands.
All the musical marauders Of the berry and the bloom Sing the lure of soul's illusion Out of darkness, out of doom.
But the sure and great evangel Comes when half alone I hear, At the rosy door of silence, Love, the lord of speech, draw near.
Then for once across the threshold, Darkling spirit, thou art free,— As thy hope is every ship makes Some lost haven of the sea.
THE SHADOW BOATSWAIN
Don't you know the sailing orders? It is time to put to sea, And the stranger in the harbor Sends a boat ashore for me.
With the thunder of her canvas Coming on the wind again, I can hear the Shadow Boatswain Piping to his shadow men.
Is it firelight or morning, That red flicker on the floor? Your good-by was braver, sweetheart, When I sailed away before.
Think of this last lovely summer! Love, what ails the wind to-night? What's he saying in the chimney Turns your berry cheek so white?
What a morning! How the sunlight Sparkles on the outer bay, Where the brig lies waiting for me To trip anchor and away!
That's the Doomkeel. You may know her By her clean run aft; and, then, Don't you hear the Shadow Boatswain Piping to his shadow men?
Off the freshening sea to windward, Is it a white tern I hear Shrilling in the gusty weather Where the far sea-line is clear?
What a morning for departure! How your blue eyes melt and shine! Will you watch us from the headland Till we sink below the line?
I can see the wind already Steer the scurf marks of the tide, As we slip the wake of being Down the sloping world and wide.
I can feel the vasty mountains Heave and settle under me, And the Doomkeel veer and shudder, Crumbling on the hollow sea.
There's a call, as when a white gull Cries and beats across the blue; That must be the Shadow Boatswain Piping to his shadow crew.
There's a boding sound, like winter When the pines begin to quail; That must be the gray wind moaning In the belly of the sail.
I can feel the icy fingers Creeping in upon my bones; There must be a berg to windward Somewhere in these border zones.
Stir the fire.... I love the sunlight,— Always loved my shipmate sun. How the sunflowers beckon to me From the dooryard one by one!
How the royal lady roses Strew this summer world of ours! There'll be none in Lonely Haven; It is too far north for flowers.
There, sweetheart! And I must leave you. What should touch my wife with tears? There's no danger with the Master; He has sailed the sea for years.
With the sea-wolves on her quarter, And a white bone in her teeth, He will steer the shadow cruiser, Dark before and doom beneath,
Down the last expanse, till morning Flares above the broken sea, And the midnight storm is over, And the Isles are close alee.
So some twilight, when your roses Are all blown and it is June, You will turn your blue eyes seaward Through the white dusk of the moon,
Wondering, as that far sea-cry Comes upon the wind again, And you hear the Shadow Boatswain Piping to his shadow men.
THE MASTER OF THE ISLES
There is rumor in Dark Harbor, And the folk are all astir; For a stranger in the offing Draws them down to gaze at her,
In the gray of early morning, Black against the orange streak, Making in below the ledges, With no colors at her peak.
Something makes their hearts uneasy As they watch the long black hull, For she brings the storm behind her While before her there is lull.
With no pilot and unspoken, Where the dancing breakers are, Presently she veers and races In across the roaring bar,—
Rounds and luffs and comes to anchor, While the wharf begins to throng. Silence falls upon the women. And misgiving stirs the strong.
Then with some obscure foreboding, As a gray-haired watcher smiles, They perceive the fearless captain Is the Master of the Isles.
They recall the bleak December Many streaming years ago, When the stranger had been sighted Driving shoreward with the snow;
When the Master came among them With his calm and courtly pride, And had sailed away at sundown With pale Dora for his bride;
How again he came one summer When the herring schools were late, And had cleared before the morning With old Alec's son for mate.
There was glamour with the Master; He had tales of far-off seas; But his habit and demeanor Were of other lands than these.
He had never made the Harbor But there sailed away with him Wife or child or friend or lover, Leaving eyes to strain and swim,—
Strain and wait for their returning; Yet they never had come back; For the pale wake of the Master Is a wandering, fading track.
Just beyond our utmost fathom Is the anchorage we crave, But the Master knows the soundings By the reach of every wave.
Just beyond the last horizon, Vague upon the weather-gleam, Loom the Faroff Isles forever, The tradition of a dream.
There a white and brooding summer Haunts upon the gray sea-plain, Where the gray sea-winds are quiet At the sources of the rain.
There where all world-weary dreamers Get them forth to their release, Lie the colonies of the kindred, In the provinces of peace.
Thither in the stormy sunset Will the Master sail to-night; And the village will be silent When he drops below the light.
Not a soul on all the hillside But will watch her when she clears, Dreaming of the Port o' Strangers In the roadstead of the years.
"Port o' Strangers, Port o' Strangers!" "Where away?" "On the weather bow." "Drive her down the closing distance!"... That's to-morrow, but not now.
What imperial adventure Some wide morning it will be, Sweeping in to Lonely Haven From the chartless round of sea!
How imposing a departure, While this little harbor smiles, Steering for the outer sea-rim With the Master of the Isles!
THE LAST WATCH
Comrades, comrades, have me buried Like a warrior of the sea, With a flag across my breast And my sword upon my knee.
Steering out from vanished headlands For a harbor on no chart, With the winter in the rigging, With the ice-wind in my heart,
Down the bournless slopes of sea-room, With the long gray wake behind, I have sailed my cruiser steady With no pilot but the wind.
Battling with relentless pirates From the lower seas of Doom, I have kept the colors flying Through the roar of drift and gloom.
Scudding where the shadow foemen Hang about us grim and stark, Broken spars and shredded canvas, We are racing for the dark.
Sped and blown abaft the sunset Like a shriek the storm has caught; But the helm is lashed to windward, And the sails are sheeted taut.
Comrades, comrades, have me buried Like a warrior of the night. I can hear the bell-buoy calling Down below the harbor light
Steer in shoreward, loose the signal, The last watch has been cut short; Speak me kindly to the islesmen, When we make the foreign port.
We shall make it ere the morning Rolls the fog from strait and bluff; Where the offing crimsons eastward There is anchorage enough.
How I wander in my dreaming! Are we northing nearer home, Or outbound for fresh adventure On the reeling plains of foam?
North I think it is, my comrades, Where one heart-beat counts for ten, Where the loving hand is loyal, And the women's sons are men;
Where the red auroras tremble When the polar night is still, Lighting home the worn seafarers To their haven in the hill.
Comrades, comrades, have me buried Like a warrior of the North. Lower me the long-boat, stay me In your arms, and bear me forth;
Lay me in the sheets and row me, With the tiller in my hand, Row me in below the beacon Where my sea-dogs used to land.
Has your captain lost his cunning After leading you so far? Row me your last league, my sea-kings; It is safe within the bar.
Shoulder me and house me hillward, Where the field-lark makes his bed, So the gulls can wheel above me, All day long when I am dead;
Where the keening wind can find me With the April rain for guide, And come crooning her old stories Of the kingdoms of the tide.
Comrades, comrades, have me buried Like a warrior of the sun; I have carried my sealed orders Till the last command is done.
Kiss me on the cheek for courage, (There is none to greet me home,) Then farewell to your old lover Of the thunder of the foam;
For the grass is full of slumber In the twilight world for me, And my tired hands are slackened From their toiling on the sea.
A lonely sail in the vast sea-room, I have put out for the port of gloom.
The voyage is far on the trackless tide, The watch is long, and the seas are wide.
The headlands blue in the sinking day Kiss me a hand on the outward way.
The fading gulls, as they dip and veer, Lift me a voice that is good to hear.
The great winds come, and the heaving sea, The restless mother, is calling me.
The cry of her heart is lone and wild, Searching the night for her wandered child.
Beautiful, weariless mother of mine, In the drift of doom I am here, I am thine.
Beyond the fathom of hope or fear, From bourn to bourn of the dusk I steer,
Swept on in the wake of the stars, in the stream Of a roving tide, from dream to dream.