George Pope Morris (1802-1864 / USA)
The Main-Truck; Or, A Leap For Life
Old Ironsides at anchor lay,
In the harbor of Mahon;
A dead calm rested on the bay--
The waves to sleep had gone;
When little Jack, the captain's son,
With gallant hardihood,
Climbed shroud and spar--and then upon
The main-truck rose and stood!
A shudder ran through every vein--
All eyes were turned on high!
There stood the boy, with dizzy brain,
Between the sea and sky!
No hold had he above--below,
Alone he stood in air!
At that far height none dared to go--
No aid could reach him there.
We gazed--but not a man could speak!--
With horror all aghast
In groups, with pallid brow and cheek,
We watched the quivering mast.
The atmosphere grew thick and hot,
And of a lurid hue,
As, riveted unto the spot,
Stood officers and crew.
The father came on deck--He gasped,
'O, God, Thy will be done!'
Then suddenly a rifle grasped,
And aimed it at his son!
'Jump far out, boy! into the wave!
Jump, or I fire!' he said:
'That only chance your life can save!
Jump--jump, boy!'--He obeyed.
He sank--he rose--he lived--he moved--
He for the ship struck out!
On board we hailed the lad beloved
With many a manly shout.
His father drew, in silent joy,
Those wet arms round his neck,
Then folded to his heart the boy
And fainted on the deck!
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