The Shipwreck

Men stood like dolls about the seething wreck;
White as the foam their faces shone, whose fleck
Tongued far up the long slope, where, in the sky,
Other men huddled but to watch men die.…

In vain they sent the line…no boat could ride
Upon the back of that tremendous tide;
The fire they lit, the great wind blew it out;
When men would whisper they must stand and shout
Cupped hand to ear…the people waited there
Lashed by the sand as if whips filled the air.…

The ship was borne asunder by no shock
Riven, and dangling piecemeal on a rock,—
It was no reef it struck on, utterly breaking
Asunder into jutting beams, and taking
The foamy coil and wash of lifted seas;
Its seamen knew a moment of false ease
As on the long, low, hidden bar it ground
Shaking froMend to end, yet every timber sound…

But then the seas, the trampling seas began
As in one grey, concerted giants' plan,
And over and over and over and over they bore
While help irked, helpless, scarce a league from shore…

And when with dusk the great wind ceased to blow,
Men caught them where the long surf bore them in;
Men drew them up beyond the coil and din;
Men battled for them with the undertow;
Men laid them out like stiff dolls, in a row.
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