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THE LAST DAY.
That day of wrath, that dreadful day,
How many thousand of my poorest subjects
Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee,
THE WRECK OF THE HESPERUS.
It was the schooner Hesperus
That sail'd the wintry sea ; And the skipper had taken his little daughter
To bear him company.
Blue were her eyes as the fairy-flax,
Her cheeks like the dawn of day, And her bosom white as the hawthorn buds
That ope in the month of May.
The skipper be stood beside the belm;
His pipe was in his mouth ; And he watched how the veering flaw did blow
The smoke now west, now south.
Then up and spake an old sailor,
Had saild the Spanish main, “I pray thee put into yonder port,
For I fear a hurricane.
Last night the moon had a golden ring,
And to-night no moon we see !”
And a scornful laugh laugh'd he.
Colder and louder blew the wind,
A gale from the north-east;
And the billows froth'd like yeast.
Down came the storm, and smote amain
The vessel in its strength;
Then leap'd her cable's length.
“Come hither !—come hither ! my little daughter,
And do not tremble so;
That ever wind did blow.”
He wrapp'd her warm in his seaman's coat,
Against the stinging blast :
And bound her to the mast.
“O father! I hear the church-bells ring ;
O say, what may it be?” “'Tis a fog-bell on a rock-bound coast !"
And he steer'd for the open sea.
“O father! I hear the sound of guns ;
O say, what may it be ?” “Some ship in disti'ess, that cannot live
In such an angry sea !”
“O father! I see a gleaming light,
O say, what it may be ?”
A frozen corpse was he !
Lash'd to the helm, all stiff and stark,
With his face turn'd to the skies ; The lantern gleam'd through the gleaming snow
On his fix'd and glassy eyes.
Then the maiden clasp'd her hands, and pray'd
That savéd she might be ; And she thought of Christ, who still’d the waves
On the Lake of Galilee.
And fast through the midnight dark and drear,
Through the whistling sleet and snow, Like a sheeted ghost the vessel swept
Towards the reef of Norman's Woe.
And ever the fitful gusts between
A sound came from the land ;
On the rocks and the hard sea-sand.
The breakers were right beneath her bows;
She drifted a dreary wreck ;
Like icicles, from her deck.