Ballads of Lost Haven A Book of the Sea

Poetry/
#Poetry #Canadian
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Excerpt 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. THE GRAVEDIGGER 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....
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