In slumbers of midnight the sailor-boy lay;
His hammock swung loose at the sport of the wind;
But watch-worn and weary, his cares flew away,
And visions of happiness danced o'er his mind.
He dreamed of his home, of his dear native bowers,
And pleasures that waited on life's merry morn;
While Memory stood sideways, half covered with flowers,
And restored every rose, but secreted its thorn.
Then Fancy her magical pinions spread wide,
And bade the young dreamer in ecstasy rise;
Now far, far behind him the green waters glide,
And the cot of his forefathers blesses his eyes.
The jessamine clambers in flowers o'er the thatch,
And the swallow sings sweet from her nest in the wall;
All trembling with transport he raises the latch,
And the voices of loved ones reply to his call.
A father bends o'er him with looks of delight;
His cheek is impearled with a mother's warm tear;
And the lips of the boy in a love-kiss unite
With the lips of the maid whom his bosom holds dear.
The heart of the sleeper beats high in his breast;
Joy quickens his pulses, his hardships seem o'er;
And a murmur of happiness steals through his rest, -
'O God! thou hast blessed me, - I ask for no more.'
Ah! whence is that flame which now bursts on his eye?
Ah! what is that sound which now larums his ear?
'Tis the lightning's red glare, painting hell on the sky!
'Tis the crash of the thunder, the groan of the sphere!
He springs from his hammock, he flies to the deck;
Amazement confronts him with images dire;
Wild winds and mad waves drive the vessel a wreck;
The masts fly in splinters; the shrouds are on fire.
Like mountains the billows tremendously swell;
In vain the lost wretch calls on mercy to save;
Unseen hands of spirits are ringing his knell,
And the death-angel flaps his broad wing o'er the wave!
O sailor-boy, woe to thy dream of delight!
In darkness dissolves the gay frost-work of bliss.
Where now is the picture that Fancy touched bright, -
Thy parents' fond pressure, and love's honeyed kiss?
O sailor-boy! sailor-boy! never again
Shall home, love, or kindred thy wishes repay;
Unblessed and unhonored, down deep in the main,
Full many a fathom, thy frame shall decay.
No tomb shall e'er plead to remembrance for thee,
Or redeem form or fame from the merciless surge;
But the white foam of waves shall thy winding-sheet be,
And winds, in the midnight of winter, thy dirge!
On a bed of green sea-flowers thy limbs shall be laid, -
Around thy white bones the red coral shall grow;
Of thy fair yellow locks threads of amber be made,
And every part suit to thy mansion below.
Days, months, years, and ages shall circle away,
And still the vast waters above thee shall roll;
Earth loses thy pattern forever and aye, -
O sailor-boy! sailor-boy! peace to thy soul!