Barry Cornwall

(21 November 1787 – 5 October 1874 / Leeds, England)

The Stormy Petrel


A THOUSAND miles from land are we,
Tossing about on the roaring sea;
From billow to bounding billow cast,
Like fleecy snow on the stormy blast:
The sails are scatter’d abroad, like weeds,
The strong masts shake like quivering reeds,
The mighty cables, and iron chains,
The hull, which all earthly strength disdains,
They strain and they crack, and hearts like stone
Their natural hard, proud strength disown.

Up and down! Up and down!
From the base of the wave to the billow’s crown,
And midst the flashing and feathery foam
The Stormy Petrel finds a home,—
A home, if such a place may be,
For her who lives on the wide, wide sea,
On the craggy ice, in the frozen air,
And only seeketh her rocky lair
To warm her young, and to teach them spring
At once o’er the waves on their stormy wing.

O’er the Deep! O’er the Deep!
Where the whale, and the shark, and the sword-fish sleep,
Outflying the blast and the driving rain,
The Petrel telleth her tale—in vain;
For the mariner curseth the warning bird
Who bringeth him news of the storms unheard!
Ah! thus does the prophet, of good or ill,
Meet hate from the creatures he serveth still:
Yet he ne’er falters:—So, Petrel! spring
Once more o’er the waves on thy stormy wing!

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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