The Seaman's Home

Wide let the venturous sea-bird roam
A speck on ocean's bosom cast,
Touch with white breast the whiter foam,
And shriek before the rising blast.

But give her, when her wing is weary,
A home beyond the cliff's bare verge,
That, resting in her rocky eyry,
Her eye may scan the rolling surge.

Beyond, where bravest sea-bird dares,
The seaman's eager prow has driven;
And far beyond the line that bears
The mingled blue of sea and heaven:

His ship has drifted to the gale,
Where, many a night, the full round moon
Saw but herself and that white sail
O'er all the central ocean strewn;

Where, many a night, each cold, pale star
Look'd kindly on his lonely watch,
Telling of cottage homes afar,
And lattice lights beneath the thatch.

He brought the gold of other lands,
He braved the battle's stormy rage;
Give him a home, where kindly hands
Shall rock the cradle of his age.

No grey-hair'd wife may soothe his grief,
No child may guide his tottering limb,
The honey on the wither'd leaf,
The charms of life are not for him.

But give him on his own loved shore,
A quiet haven, where the brawl
Of the chafed sea shall vex no more,
Or only come at memory's call;

And let some gentle pastoral tone
Speak to his soul of pardon'd sin,
Till mercy melt the heart of stone,
And hope, with sorrow, enter in;

Till, as of old, when out at sea
His country far behind him faded,
Some brighter isle before would be,
With golden vales by palm-trees shaded.

So, as his life fades slow and calm,
And all of earth in distance dies,
The land that bears the heavenly palm
Shall break on faith's fast-closing eyes.
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