Danger

Danger awaits us in each time and place,

On sea, on shore, in darkness, and in day;

And unconfin'd to us the human race,

O'er every thing that breathes extends its sway.

As the fierce eagle hovers o'er its prey

Denouncing Death it hovers o'er each head,

And even where I write this humble lay,

Reclining by the streamlet's winding bed,

'Tis scarce more safe then where the flag of war is spread.

Yes, there is danger where the warrior bleeds,

Where o'er the plain sanguineous currents run;

For danger still attends on martial deeds,

And on the brave by whom those deeds are done.

Yet even there, before the yawning gun,

That danger, does a smiling aspect wear,

For woman's heart is oft by valor won,

And cowards merit not her love to share,

On this the soldier thinks, and banishes each care.

That danger wears the most horrific form

Which meets the sailor on the ocean wide,

When the wild sea is troubled by the storm,

And nought but foaming waters is descried;

When rolls the shiv'ring bark upon its side,

Depress'd by furious wind and rolling surge,

Until the pennant sweeps the angry tide:

Or launching from the billows dang'rous verge,

Far in the briny deep the trembling crew immerge.

For who amidst that elemental strife,

Far from his home, and far from ev'ry friend,

And, with a kiss to soothe departing life,

Where no lov'd partner o'er his bed can bend; —

Who in that fearful moment can descend

With calmness to the watery grave profound,

Where monsters prowl exulting in his end,

And deaf'ning thunder-peals his death-knell sound,

Nor crave a calmer death upon his native ground?

Distress may come, and may again depart,

And mis'ry may not sadden all our days;

Age may arrive, — and in the aged heart

The frown of beauty can no tumult raise:

But when distress is past and love decays,

In happiness and grief, still danger reigns;

Reigns o'er the child that by the streamlet plays,

Reigns o'er the aged whom the crutch sustains.

Nor e'er resigns its sway as long as life remains.

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